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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

How I learned to appreciate art

Published: March 21, 2008
Section: Opinions

When I was younger, I didn’t know why people liked art. Whenever I looked at a modern art painting, I thought that any infant or chimp with the right talent could mash colors onto a sheet and create this type of work. I also didn’t like how some pieces of art had an inner meaning. How can something truly intrigue you when you don’t even know the true message that the artist was trying to convey? Overall, I thought that the creation and preservation of art was not worth anything. It was a waste of resources, and shouldn’t be cherished by our society. Now, however, I have different opinions about the purpose and importance of art. It seems that many people are incapable of fully expressing themselves. Artists may then assist us in conveying emotion that could otherwise never before have been expressed. In addition, art is important for the testament it gives about our society. Its fragility and purity is a commentary about our own existence and this is a valuable message indeed. I have been converted to an appreciator of art and would like to lay out some reasons why I made this transformation.

Ordinary people are not always capable of expressing themselves to the fullest extent. I am not just talking about basic communication and the problems that some may have orating the thoughts that they nevertheless have in their mind. I am more discussing higher levels of expression, different kinds of emotion, and other types of feelings that are impossible for an ordinary person to convey. I feel that the job of art is to provide this medium, to give all of us the ability to convey the things that we are otherwise unable to express. For instance, the feeling in the eyes of a beautiful portrait may not be conveyed in simple words. The poetry in a moving song may be so pure, so dead-on, that no regular person could create such majesty. The artist, therefore, is the custodian of our emotions. They assist us to convey the thoughts and feelings that we would have never before been able to express.

I also like art for the commentary that it conveys. For instance, one of the beautiful things about art is its fragility. Anyone can go into a museum and in some way damage the beauty of a painting. The most beautiful song can be thought of and written, but never meet the wide audiences that it deserves. This unbelievable trust, this condition of artwork is awe-inspiring. Maintaining these invaluable pieces is undoubtedly worth it as they can so easily be taken away from our society.

When I look at a piece of art, I also think about the preconditions of our society that allow its creators to prosper. Art is not conducive to an oppressive state, or a regime that doesn’t allow creativity to flourish. It is the fruit that is had by allowing a general sense of intellectual liberty. I for one am happy to live in a country where people can make statements in whatever mediums they desire. Without these preconditions, some of the best pieces of art may never have been able to see the eyes of countless beholders.

I once was one of those guys who was dragged to art galleries and hated every moment of the torture. I used to think that paintings were stupid, and that cameras were invented to eliminate this unneeded creativity. But now, I am a true believer in art. I, as an ordinary person, am shackled in my inability to express complex emotions. Art is the medium by which I can feel sentiments I otherwise would not be able to experience. In addition, art provides a meaningful commentary on our society, and is fragile indeed. For all these reasons, I encourage every Brandeis student to appreciate art to its fullest extent. And this includes all the work that is found in the Rose Art museum, despite vocal campus critics.