Art as a servant


Perhaps we have thought of art in a less impacting way than it is capable of in educating our children and in all areas of life?

Historically art has been “another subject” to add to the curriculum in education…”oh yeah, we need to give the kids some art too”.  And a class is created and an art teacher is hired to lead the “art classes”.

This kind of a thinking has opened the door to pitting “art” against “math” and “english” and “history” subjects…seeing it as a lesser subject when it comes to budgets.  I wonder if our thinking about art would benefit everyone more if it was re shaped a bit.

I believe art was always meant to be a servant to other things….instead of just being an end in itself.  Because art is creative and expressive and memorable as a visual language understood by all, I wonder if we have really tapped into it’s power to help other important areas of education….even life.

Imagine art helping kids to learn history…or write creatively…or grasp math concepts…or remembering properties in chemistry….

Have we really given art it’s best chance at serving other areas and by so doing enriched the learning experience to it’s fullest height?

Why art?

We are a visual people…we were wired by God that way…everyone!

Everyone dreams at night…everyone has a pictorial imagination that works in our conscious hours to help us problem solve and process life….everyone lives in nature, a living picture that speaks to us all the time in a visual language we have the capacity to understand.  And who would disagree that every child starting out in education begins with drawing paper and crayons…and LOVES making pictures with raw abandonment.

To me, these are evidences that we are all very visual people.  Not all can paint or draw, but we all judge art as if we were experts.  Right?  We are wired for visual communication.

Art could serve everyone’s purposes in education….it is one of the most powerful tools we have been given by God.  Even the physically blind have an active imagination that still enables them to see and process life.  Why can’t we experiment more with using art to serve in creative, visual ways in the learning process or meeting needs in business or other life areas that we have not considered in the past?

Actually, when anyone creates art, there are three very simple things that happen….

1) We learn to SEE (the eyes and imagination)….looking at what is really there

2) We learn to THINK (the brain)…solve visual problems and make decisions

3) We learn to DO (the eye and hand coordination)…develop the actual skill

Most people consider step #3 as “doing art”…and it gets most of the attention.  But in reality, steps 1 and 2 are hugely important in order for step 3 to be successful.  And step 1 and 2 can be as enjoyable as step 3!

When I am trying to help people experiment with the visual language of art, I break all of my activities down into one of these three categories and try to design creative activities that help make their learning experience fun and set them up to succeed in order to continue to gain confidence. Everyone likes to grow and see progress in what they do, and activities like this will keep them coming back to play in the visual swimming pool more and more.  When desire and enjoyment are stirred into the learning process, then you see people’s best coming out all over the place.  And their excitement generates more excitement in those around them without even trying.

I feel our most valuable asset as art instructors is to “set others up” in a simple way to have fun in the learning and in so doing, experience enjoyment in the process.

To help others go past their fear of trying because they feel they will fail.  This kind of thinking is based soley on step 3…without ever dabbling into the really fun parts of step 1 and 2.  Because of this,  as a facilitator, I am always looking for creative, fun ways to teach new things.  And I love to see people leave from those activities excited and talking about other ideas that came to them while they were creating art.  This kind of experience is extremely influencial opens people up to want to “create”…and because they enjoyed in one area, it gives a good kind of confidence to take it into other areas of learning and life.  I see this as the powerful potential of “art as a servant”.

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One Response to “Art as a servant”

  1. sandsmertz Says:

    Thank you for this post, and for sharing some of your art in it!

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