The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Art aids realization of culture in overly busy society

Imagine a world without art. What would it look like? What conversations would be held? What would people do in their free time? What sort of drive would inspire innovation or even the will to get up everyday?

Certain specialists risk becoming slaves to their jobs by forgetting why jobs exist. A career provides for one’s family and allows the freedom to pursue a good life of seeking truth and beauty with friends. Without art, our pursuits would be empty.

Izzy Robinson, senior English major with an art minor, said art allows us the opportunity to truly see beauty.

“I believe there is true beauty and humanity lacks the divine privilege of beholding it. Art is mankind’s attempt to understand and comprehend the smallest piece they can of true divine beauty,” Robinson said.

According to Robinson, the world would be a dull place without versatile artists who see things that others miss.

“You might not even notice how red a rose is or how yellow a jonquil is. There is so much unseen beauty because nobody takes the time to experience it and share that experience with the rest of the world,” Robinson said.

More than just exposing beauty, Jeffrey Haupt, art professor, said artists provide an objective and critical reflection of society that helps us understand ourselves.

“I think ‘artists’ are the mirrors and barometers of our culture. We can begin to see certain trends or where the populace may be philosophically [and] emotionally [in a] a general sort of state,” Haupt said.

In the communicative state of society, Haupt believes art provides the unique ability to recognize and state the nuanced essential things that social media ignores with a barrage of frivolous, superficial themes. He recognized Vincent Van Gogh who said, “Ignore the obvious, and state the essential.”

Art reflects society, but Angi Bourgeois, associate professor of art history, said society, in turn, is molded by art. Sometimes people default to explaining art as being inspired by the culture of their time and place, when the culture was, in fact, changed by the creative vision expressed by the contemporary artists.

“Imagine the power of theatre or music to change policy. It can. Certainly it historically has,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois pointed out that during the Renaissance, the Pope was the most powerful person in Europe, and one of his advisers was an artist appreciated for his power of perception. She furthermore alluded to Leonardo Da Vinci, who was invited by the King of France to end his days in Paris with the notion that the king would benefit invaluably from spending one hour a day talking to the artist.

Perhaps the greatest power of art is its ability to induce critical thinking. Where other endeavors fail, art can, in an instant, express a broad and meaningful vision. The viewers must then work out all the nuanced details of that vision. Science has a dangerous tendency to gain momentum and get ahead of itself, but an artist’s perspective balances that progress by taking a moment to critically examine the benefits and consequences within a larger vision of society. If science is not checked by art, we trudge unquestioningly into a murky future.

At some point, everyone benefits from art. It provides inspiration, critical reflection and crucial moments of solace. Sadly, society does not appear to respect artists or reward them for their contributions. President Obama recently fell under scrutiny for belittling the value of art historians in a speech. Streaming and downloading trends suggest the general public would rather view or listen to art for free than pay for it. Furthermore, our culture exhibits a general pessimism and lack of respect towards the artistic profession.

Perhaps we are afraid of what we don’t understand, or maybe we have become obsessed with rewarding only that which is immediately measurable. Either way, the day we outcast the artist is the day we completely lose our sense of priority. A world without art would be miserable to live in. We should begin to show more respect and appreciation to the artistic individuals who have shaped our world into one full of beauty, worth and understanding.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Art aids realization of culture in overly busy society