Two Cents from the Soap Box

You may be familiar with the popular statement, “The Earth without art is just ‘Eh’.” It’s one of my favorite sayings.    

A few things have influenced my decision to bring this topic back around for discussion: One, it’s almost constantly swimming around in my head. Two, going to the open discussion last Thursday in the gallery got the gears grinding even more than usual. Three, the phase of the project I’ve started in my theatrical design class  relates directly to this idea. The fourth and final thing that cemented my decision to talk about this was something that Guilford College posted earlier today on Twitter:

who knew - everyone

Just click the picture to go to the article. It’s short, so go ahead and skim it…done? Okay. The title of the article is “Who Knew? Arts Education Fuels the Economy”…I hope you can sense how sassily exasperated I am at that statement. Who knew? Artists, that’s who. Art teachers. Art students. We might not have known the statistics, and we’re immensely grateful that someone finally pointed them out, but if anyone were to say to us that arts education was useless to the economy, it’d be like telling a whale he failed swimming class (both of which garner the response, “Wrong!”)

In theatrical design, we were asked to read Romeo and Juliet and find a few images and a piece of music that represent it the best to us. I recognized the beautiful misery of Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy, and what images better represent that idea to me than paintings by Vincent van Gogh? His paintings may be beautiful, but he was a tragic person. The way I approached this  was to find adjectives actually used in the text and then research van Gogh to find works that showcased that adjective for me personally. For a quick example, one adjective I found was ‘lamentable,’ for which I chose two images: Vincent van Gogh’s “Shoes” from 1888 and his “Mourning Old Man” from 1890. While viewing the images, allow John Williams’ beautiful but mournful theme from Schindler’s List to further influence your perceptions of the paintings and what you know about Romeo and Juliet:


I won’t go any further for my sake and yours, because I think that would throw me into a tangent that may last for several pages. The point, in this context, is that in this theatre class, we’re using visual art to represent a design prospect with the aid of music. If that isn’t a meeting of the artistic minds, I don’t know what is. You just experienced multiple “arts” at once, entangled together. Awesome, wasn’t it?

In this way, we can see how intertwined and irreplaceable the arts are for each other, and not just how they’re important everywhere else, which is how I’m usually armed and ready to approach my soap box. Here, we not only see how important the arts are to everything else – it also becomes clear how everything else has an immense effect on art. Art, theatre, design, music, and dance can all be influenced by each other or by anything from the weather to pop culture to politics and more. That’s why the open discussion in the gallery with Adele Wayman and Carol Stoneburner was one of the sparks to writing about this – they spoke in depth about women’s studies’ influence on Adele’s art. It got me thinking about influence in general, and how all things play a part in how our world’s art shows the cultures and ideas we live in or get inspiration from.

The arts aren’t just showcases for the talented, they’re also what allow us to thrive and preserve our history, and, indeed, they stimulate our economy. So I apologize for this slightly off-beat, kind of feisty post, but I hope it gets you pondering just as hard as I’ve pondered the subject. If I did that, the soap box was well worth it, and I pass it on to you: If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to leave them for us in the comments section below.


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