As a child, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I loved animals and learning about them, even though I didn’t really have any interest in anything else that was remotely scientific, and Maths was a sworn enemy from the age of 5. However, I was fortunate enough to get grades good enough that allowed me to study at a high school that was infamous for being the national science college, and ironically found my love for art in that school. And yet, I never had the same level of interest when it came to subjects like Chemistry, Physics and Biology. I studied enough to get the credits I needed, but it was never because I actually wanted to learn, as evidenced by the many daydreams I’ve concocted in the labs while my teachers tried their best to educate us rowdy kids.
“To be an artist is to believe in life.” – Henry Moore
So whatever I say regarding this topic might be coming from a place of bias, but I’d rather not be objective about something I’m pretty passionate about. Admittedly, this topic is treacherous territory; it’s incredibly subjective and more than a fair share of intelligent people have contributed to both sides of this debate. However, the fact that it is still a hot topic for discussion proves that people are still willing to fight for the side of the arts, despite any skewed perspectives on its benefits for the greater good of humanity.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso
We currently live in a time where we are assaulted by headlines that continuously remind us of how evil the world is, with stories of theft and war and murder intertwined together as horrifying background music to our day to day lives. We stare at our screens all day long in the office, and we pick up part time jobs in addition to our 9-5 because things are so expensive it’s ludicrous, but we still yearn for annual getaways to exotic places anyway in order to justify being suffocated in a suit every other weekday of the year. And we still stick with the day job, because how many times have our parents been told that anything to do with the arts was not a lucrative career, and how many times have those words been passed down as if they’re our own inheritances?
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle
It’s so easy to get numbed from the numerous responsibilities we carry on our burdened shoulders, but that’s precisely why art still matters, especially in a time and place that’s becoming all too similar to Geroge Orwell’s 1984. Art is a sanctuary for so many; all of us have either a favourite book, or painting, or song, or movie that will unfailingly move us each time we are confronted by that particular piece of art. Art is a restorative escape from the ugly reality that grips us every moment and yet, the emotions that art brings out allow us to face that very same reality with strength, sensitivity and passion.
Art evokes a sense of complex fulfillment and while I will never promise that art is the key to a happier life, it is enriching, and it is captivating, and it does better us as individuals in ways that mere facts cannot hope to achieve. And that’s why art still matters.