by Aida Ali
For millions around the globe, the past months have been defined by a change in the day to day life. Are there ways for us to channel this disruption and shift the way we connect to others? Experts are saying that the ones who will adapt best to all these changes are the ones who will learn how to get through this time stronger and better, ready for an altered future. So, what if we tell you that art can be that tool that can open your mind, facilitate your adaptive journey, and help you realize your creative way forward?
Art for social emotional well being
This superpower of art cannot be stressed enough (no pun intended). When the world is going through a global crisis and humanity fights unitedly against the same unseen enemy, art offers a fun, symbolic means of communicating beyond any language or culture. When people are going through uncertainty, it is very important to express their feelings and art is a great liberating way to do so.
Art has always been a way to really tap into our senses and engage in extraordinary sensorial experiences and respond to our environment. Art can be the most powerful tool to build social emotional well-being, for any and all ages. This is true for both making your own art as well as interacting with existing artworks. As in-person social engagement is significantly reduced, online art classes, are gaining popularity as one of the ways to learn something new, socialize with friends as well as meet new people from around the world! Opportunities for shared art activities also helps us build a sense of community, where we unlock a part of ourselves in the presence of others in a way that can be intimate and meaningful, even remotely.
Art also helps us build and define our own identity – who we are, what we love, what we value, how we make choices, what we believe is right or wrong and what we find beautiful. By making our own works of art and talking to others about works of art, we get the opportunity to build our self-awareness, allowing us to identify our emotions, our strengths and our viewpoints, while also recognizing the ways in which others see the world.
Making art literally helps reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. And the kind of art, your skill level, and the materials you use do not matter. It’s the process, the creative breakthrough of passion, whether it begins as an idea in your brain or with a twitch of your fingers, that is of value. Simple art activities are also stress and anxiety busters for our kids! In these times, it’s impossible to overestimate art’s direct impact on our own emotional growth and mental health.
Art to develop creative thinking as a tool to adapt to this new era
Interacting with art takes us on a journey of engaging in creative thought. Creativity is an integral part of all of us. Art pushes us to consider new and previously unconsidered possibilities, practice imaginative thinking, engage in problem solving, practice abstract thinking and be able to deal with ambiguity. Whether it’s in designing and erecting brand new statues to commemorate symbols of glory or watching the alteration of statues to mark changing times, creative thought is present in encounters with art everywhere!
Experiences with art also allow us to build critical thinking. Through encounters with art, we’re building new ways of thinking and seeing the world and ourselves, even when we’re just looking at a sculpture, playing with some paint, thinking about what a photograph depicts and contemplating the stories a mural tells us. Creative and critical thinking is embedded in even the smallest aspects of engagement with art. When making art, it manifests in what we choose to make, how we choose colors and materials, how we move our face and body in the process, what visual perspective our artwork is viewed from and even how we choose to display and share it with others. When looking at art, this thinking emerges in our observational skills, what attracts our eyes, how we position our body when viewing the artwork, how all of our senses wish to interact with it (who hasn’t wanted to touch the surface of a smooth stone sculpture or thick impasto brushstrokes?) and even how we perceive the spatial elements of the work. And not to forget, our creative and critical thinking skills are really enhanced when we use language to talk about the artwork! And the more encounters we have with art on a regular basis, the more we can practice different thinking routines.
Art to understand the world and current events
While we’re often dealing with an overwhelming amount of news, art is one of the oldest and one of the most powerful storytelling tools. It allowed the first humans to create their own impressions of their world and to express what was of value to them. Throughout history, art has been a storehouse of human stories – layers and layers of stories hidden in simple visual objects. And with this power, it gives us a way to uncover complex historical events, even as we’re living through these events, and provides a platform through which to engage in difficult conversations.
For more than thirty-five years, Agora Gallery has been driven by the goal of creating opportunities for emerging artists, allowing them to exhibit their work in the gallery. Now, you can discover or enhance your artistic abilities from the comfort of your home while meeting like-minded-people from all over the world with ARTiClass, the online art classes and workshops available now.
So whether you’re around your loved ones or live alone, whether you work from home or commute via that crowded subway, whether you have made art all your life or never even considered it, take some time out for yourself now – to make, to create, to express, to observe, to play, to splash, to cut, to paste, to crush, to pin, to stitch, to sketch, to breathe, to let go of your stress and to bring something that’s perhaps quietly sitting inside you right now out into the world.