Fine Art plays a delicate and vitally important role in our lives. Without it, we would be seriously lacking in entertainment. Imagine what life would be like without our TV shows and movies!
What we really dread is life without the people to create our oh-so precious amusements. The artists, the composers, the directors and actors that we are overwhelmed with everyday — we need them to create a diversion for ourselves. We need them to practice their craft in order to keep away the disease of boredom to which we are so susceptible.
In general, the development of appreciation for Fine Art stems from “classical education.” According to Dorothy Sayers’ essay on classical education, ‘The Lost Tools of Learning’ in experiencing such curriculum, the student begins by, “absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves.” It is in this last phase that Fine Art enters. Susan Wise Bauer – writer, historian, and co-author of the book ‘The Well-Trained Mind’ — describes the third stage, “The Rhetoric Stage” of classical education, as the application stage. “At this point,” she notes, “the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality…and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language.”
Therefore, it is through this application that great artists are born. Their modes of visual, auditory or dramatic expression are their rhetoric — sharing their analysis based on whatever “facts” they have gleaned. And in return, we love them for it. We praise and honor them for their accomplishments, setting them up as deities of creative talent.
Investment in the Fine Arts is a “win-win” for everybody. From it, we garner the entertainment we so crave, and the artist receives his coveted fame. But perhaps they retain something else too. An article by Bob Bryant titled ‘The Importance of Fine Arts Education’, appears on Katyisd.org and discusses how Fine Arts benefit the education system. “Sufficient data exists to overwhelmingly support the belief that study and participation in the fine arts is a key component in improving learning throughout all academic areas,” he states. “Evidence of its effectiveness in reducing student dropout, raising student attendance, developing better team players, fostering a love for learning, improving greater student dignity, enhancing student creativity, and producing a more prepared citizen for the workplace[...].”
If Fine Art is really that advantageous, there should be no question as to its prevalence. It only makes sense that it would be a major area of study for all students, at least until they choose their area of specialization. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Fine Arts programs around the country are suffering because they have become undervalued in society.
In an article for ‘The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society,’ Pascal Gielen tells of the recent struggles Art Institutions have been facing due to certain worldwide societal factors. “First came the discussion of the postmodern condition,” he says, “which challenged the distinction between high and low culture, thus calling into question the legitimacy of the art institution itself. Then we underwent a rapid globalization, which has at the very least relativized the notion of the nation-state and thus of the national cultures that generally sustain these great art institutions.”
His claims are accurate, considering the significant difficulty that is presented by the amalgamation of cultures. Each has their own unique history, their own artistic appreciation. It would be insensitive to force what has up until now been “a classical education” upon them, but we cannot allow the arts to fade simply because of this reason.
Fine Art will always be important to our culture, no matter how global it becomes. It constantly changes and transforms, moving to fit whatever parameters our society will accept. No matter what pressures its institutions may encounter, we cannot live without creative expression.