Why art? Why art classes? Why art classes for children?
I have been involved in art all my life. I have taught in well-endowed universities and some of the poorest corners of Africa. And what you find is that first and foremost, we are all one family, and we are all made of the same breathless, cosmic light that never leaves us. Believe it!
And two, we are singular creations. Do you realize that none of us ever sees the same things? If I look at a red block and you look at a red block, we don’t see the same thing. My individual mind interprets what data it is given through my senses. And that interpretation is never the same as yours. How could it be?
Each moment of your life is an instant in uniqueness. That is something to ponder. Every single second is yours. If you can get an unsure, hurt child to understand there are no circumstances on earth that can take away their special, distinctive place in the universe, you can help them start their journey back. When they realize that no matter what has or will happen, theirs is a unique voice in the world, it is a dawning that is truly something to see. We at ArtsAltoona have seen this just this spring.
What does art have to do with that?
Kids. Young adults. People off any age who have lost their ability to believe in themselves. We all know how it happens, we all see it. Everyday. How do you believe in your own future without having hope? Hope is that greatest of graces given to us. It allows us to believe in ourselves and each other. It’s tough losing hope. We have all treaded close to that path in our lives; no one gets out of here scot-free.
But some, too many, particularly young, lose that hope because of things that should have not happened in their young lives. For many, it is seeing things no child should see, or hearing things no child should hear.
Or, hearing things no child should be told. Be so very careful of what you say. Words are enormously powerful.
Art transcends language and can open doors to people and societies that have been marginalized by circumstance, socio-economic stress, discrimination, educational difficulties, and domestic conflict. It can impact those societies right here in our own town, where isolation and marginalization can be negated, and the ability to control personal destiny becomes a reality. When that happens, it frees our natural human ingenuity and imagination and becomes a resource for us all.
Creativity as a forum generates immediate new communities within a community. When connected with other such communities they gain strength and momentum in the compilation. Gathering others into nonjudgmental, creative-allowing and enhancing spaces, where the mind can shed the restraints and fear of rejection; where it can be allowed to roam without backlash and timidity-induced spurning.
This is what an art class is. You didn’t think it was all just about painting hands, did you?
Here’s some facts and they are undisputed. Over the past few years, so much research has finally been done on these issues, and there is no question of an art class value.
Art develops confidence and self-esteem.
Art instills pride.
Art helps your child develop real-life skills.
Art leads to higher test scores in the classroom.
Art increases opportunities of self-expression.
Art increases an individual’s sense of belonging or attachment to their community (good for all of us!)
And creativity (a bigger basket of imagination) IS the key to the future, certainly for young people.
“(The arts) … have the power to shape identity beyond the labels people are given. They allow a person with a developmental disability to say, ‘I’m an artist,’ a prison inmate to say, ‘I’m a writer,’ and a person in a long-term care facility to say, ‘I’m a poet.’ The arts are transformative.” – Beth Bienvenu
And a child to say: I AM ME.
Come join us at ArtsAltoona and our After School Arts Programs (ASAP)!