You can tell a lot about a person through their preferred art across the spectrum. Whether we are the ones to create it or not, aspects of our personality and thought processes influence the music, images, stories, and more we find ourselves drawn to throughout our lives.
I think we lose a lot when we remove artistic education from our curricula and skimp in areas where our children could explore the arts. Of course, there are arguments insisting different art forms can boost and bolster academic performance, but even looking beyond that, art and art education has much to offer kids and adolescents.
I have gotten a pointed reminder of late that normal teenage mental development induces a type of identity crisis. This is the age where individuals begin to look past their family and their family's expectations of them to search for who they really are and what they want out of life. As uncomfortable as this time can be, this is a crucial process to their later happiness and well being.
Artistic endeavors and their products help shape us and our cultures, and the cultures we come from and our thoughts, hopes, and fears shape art in return. The internet has given us a wider access to music, literature, cinema, and other various art forms, but it can also be all to easy to get stuck in an echo chamber of sorts. Algorithms designed to feed us new media based on what we have looked at before can amplify this. So while this wider access may make it seem as if art education is obsolete, sometimes we need someone to encourage us outside our comfort zone.
This can be just as true for teens as it is for us older folks as we go through continued development and changes and crisis of identity ourselves. It can be easy to get locked into the familiar, never looking out toward anything beyond our old favorite artists and genres. How sad is the thought of missing out on potential favorites that could put your current ones to shame because you simply had no idea they existed?
Is there any shame in having your favorites and clinging to them? No. Art is meant to be enjoyed, and if an old favorite holds meaning for you, that is an amazing thing to be cherished. Yet, being open to new discoveries can be a blessing too.
For as much as the art we gravitate toward can "give us away," it can also give us the opportunity to see through another's eyes. Art communicates across cultures, across centuries. It provides a bridge, across which we can learn about the world, our fellow man, and ourselves.
So, stay open. Keep creating, and keep learning.
A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and the home-schooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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