Saturday, May 5, 2012

Art Is Within Everyone

In the current western culture, we tend to think of art and beauty as decoration, a nice to have luxury.  Our schools, when faced with a choice between math and art (or music or dance or theater), drop art and focus on tangible, measurable skills.  Since only a few students will become "artists," why waste precious resources that do not produce doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, the backbone of growth and productivity?  

It's the cement-mixer school of thought:  pour a bunch of math, science, language and computer skills into an empty drum, revolve it for 12 years and pour out the building mix of progress.

What's missing from this logical looking formula?  The soul, the creativity that exists within each of us, the new ideas that will pull energy out of tides, teach the body to harness its own healing power, enable us to find ways to live with creeping climate change.

Art, creativity, beauty ... this is the light contained in each of us ... but it needs to flow out into the world, to be seen, touched, tasted, smelled, heard.  Bottled up, it creates despair, anger, cancer, (figuratively and sometimes literally); encouraged, supported and set free, it creates joy, ideas, solutions to old problems and inspiration for new worlds.

The video that launched this train of thought on this glorious morning on the central coast features Ricky Lee Gordon, award-winning South African street artist and art activist. He states: 
Color creates energy, energy creates inspiration and inspiration creates change. It is our responsibility to inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire the change. Art is the remedy for this.  ... Removing the grayness from the soul of the city is the job of artists, poets, and musicians.
His motto is:  Inspiration and love through art to make a difference in South Africa.  Use art to change perceptions.

I highly recommend this video and hope you'll take time to sit down, watch the video, and then actively let your own creative light flow free.  Perhaps you can find a way to use your art (whether it's cooking, painting, gardening, dancing, sewing, writing, teaching, sculpting ... however you express your self) to change the perceptions of the people who make decisions about our schools, our communities and our country.


  1. I did take the time -- and the video is amazing. he is inspiring, the faces and story in his video beautiful and your post is 'right on!'

    "I'd rather give them a paintbrush than a gun, knife..." wow

    Inside you

    a tender root

    -- very very nice.

  2. "inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire the change": great mission statement.

    Excellent video. It's always fascinating to learn how people define art and its meaning in their lives.

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  4. Louise and Maureen ... I'm glad you enjoyed this ... I thought you might. And wouldn't it be great if we could end war with a paintbrush?! Soldiers would come home from a foreign engagement with a new color in their eyes, a fresh melody on their tongue and joy in their hearts from making friends instead of enemies. We have to ask, "why not?"

  5. Oh, my goodness, this young man has SO much ENERGY! AMAZING!

    Thanks for sharing this incredibly timely video. Thanks even more for your thoughts on what has happened to art curricula across the country. I've hated watching this, but now I understand my distaste for those decisions is not purely selfish; it arises also from a concern for how unbalanced things can become in a world without art...

  6. I've long thought that creative & critical thinking are two sides of the same coin. I don't like one chosen over the other, for one without the other is the undoing of both.

    First creativity was abandoned; now it seems critical thinking ~ a skill to assess the quality of one's thinking ~ is a "nice to have but not necessary". School doesn't appear to be where we learn to question and think, but instead a kind of technical mill. Learn a skill. Make a living.

    I'm frustrated by curiosity unchallenged and creativity unfulfilled. Will these qualities of education fall into a "vintage" category? Hoping not.

    Thank you for this blog entry, Joyce.

  7. Diane and Pamela ... as long as our school system is driven by standardized testing, they are going to teach standardized thinking. I had the great good fortune of seeing what a school could do within the constraints of the "system" to achieve student-driven learning. It was one of the most exciting things I've seen. It proved that it can happen but it takes passionate leaders with LOTS of energy.