(Waking Times) Upon hearing many children talk about how they would like to participate in an Art class, I decided to offer this experience to them. Living in the Caribbean, I was the owner of a beach-side eatery. Children would naturally gather around while I was outdoors painting murals and signs. They were curious, eager to understand, and fascinated by the act of creating. I wished to involve them, so each day I would set a table beneath a palm tree, and here we would have our Art lesson. Together we would begin to draw, the sound of waves and distant Reggaeton music providing the perfect meditative setting.
At first their hyper activity, quarrelsome squabbles, and sugary highs and lows seemed insurmountable. But after a few moments, each child would settle into their own chair, paper before them, colored markers in hand. Some would begin instantly, their furious pace channeled across the white surface. Others looked sky ward in inner reflection until the time was right to begin. Soon the peace enveloped us, and there were no boundaries of age, gender, and language, only the deep connection that comes from within.
It is incomprehensible that children are denied Art in their education. Art History is a valid account of our past and culture, as insightful as the written word. Creating is fundamental to being alive. Art making is a communication skill, one that some believe defines our being human. There are heights to the intellect that cannot be achieved through logical reasoning alone, nothing can replace the knowledge one gains from exploring the imagination.
The passive act of viewing Art is equally as powerful. There are countless accounts of patients reporting ‘feeling better’ after looking at paintings and plenty of scientific data now available to prove this. Art infuses our being with positive energy, reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm. In 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote about the effect of “beautiful objects” on sickness and recovery, “Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know they have an actual physical effect.” It is undoubtedly true that people who are suffering illness find solace in Art. To enjoy a lifestyle of wellness, it is essential that we feed our bodies with nutritious food. So too our soul has needs, it may be possible to prescribe Art as preventative medicine, as it is to advocate proper dietary nutrition.
Art encompasses a complete health of body, soul, and mind. “How do you draw a horse?” When we learn something new we expand skills and perception. Our brain is exercised, strengthening cognitive functions and increasing mental agility. The act of making something utilizes hand and eye coordination, this is invaluable for developing physically. To see something, such as a horse, and be able to record it 2 dimensionally is a technique. This requires discipline, focus, and practice, qualities that are necessary in achieving any desired goal.
Teaching completes the cycle of learning. Most teachers will explain that there are lessons mastered by all who are participating, myself included. Often, I was astounded by the creativity and intuition of the young students. Once encouraged and allowed the freedom to express, the children manifested a flow of ideas; flowers are black, a rainbow shines beneath the water, butterflies have sharp wings, and a sun may only be half. Their interpretations of the surrounding world are profound. This influence ultimately inspired a series of drawings I created while living there, the “Made in Vieques” collection.
The role of the community and Art is a mutually beneficial relationship. It is a conversation that engages all who have senses. Moving beyond boundaries of language and social class, it is a connection seeking to include all people. Currently, there are numerous ills plaguing modern culture; loneliness, depression, violence and stress. Could it be we are eliminating that which is vital to all past societies? How different our world, if we focused on expressing ourselves through the creativity of Art, rather than destructive forces of war, greed, and corruption. To be surrounded by the positive element of beauty and awareness would direct all that we do and are. Each of us has a crucial choice to make on how we spend our money and attention. As a community and as an individual, we must understand that which makes us healthy and em-power those decisions that result in wellness. Good health is necessary for survival, it is time to value that which is true: Art heals You.
Source: Waking Times