Thoughts from Counselors

What Art Teaches Us

by Brandi Willis Schreiber

A few weekends ago, I had the lucky opportunity to attend the Dallas Museum of Art’s “Jackson Pollock” exhibit. You may not know his name, but you’ve probably seen his paintings: huge, sprawling works with layers and layers of paint, dribbled or splashed onto the canvas. I had seen them in books, discovered a little bit about him through a documentary I saw. I knew that if an exhibit like that was in Texas, I had to see it in person.

The exhibit did not disappoint. Not only did it contain several rooms of his most well-known works, some stretching as high as the ceiling and so wide you wondered how the canvas was pieced together, it also contained his early drawings and sketches, telling the story of his progression toward the the paintings that are now worth millions.

When I came back and told a friend about my weekend and what I’d seen, he simply asked me, “What did it teach you?”

I had to think about that for a minute. What does art teach me?

The answer really is quite simple and one that I think is universal to any student.

I did not grow up learning about art, and I’ve never taken an art class. But when I was a student myself here at Texas Tech University, I realized I was being exposed to art over and over again really knew nothing about it. It was mentioned in the literature I read in English courses. It was referenced in the classical mythology course I took. It showed up as symbols in my psychology class, financial examples in my math class. If I wanted to understand its purpose in my education, I decided I needed to learn more about it.

That choice to learn more about it opened up a whole new way of looking at the world, a perspective I encourage my students to think about, even if art isn’t an interest they have.

Here is what art has taught me:

 

  1. It gives you a greater sense of yourself. Look at a painting or a sculpture and ask yourself, “Do I like this? Why or why not?” That insight helps you understand yourself better, and understanding yourself better is key to making good decisions, developing strong relationships, and having a sense of control in your life.

 

  1. Art exposes us to different eras, cultures, people, stories, and ways of doing things, thus making us more aware of truly how diverse this world is around us and where our place is in history.

 

  1. Art teaches you to analyze deeply and think critically, to look really closely at something and ask, “What is this? What does it mean?” We move so quickly in this world from one distraction to the next that this is truly a dying skill.

 

  1. Art gives us an excuse to explore something that’s not related to our major, which always makes you a more well-rounded individual. Art wasn’t my major, but I enjoyed learning about it, and now it has an important part in my life.

 

  1. Creating our own art is a great stress-reliever and creative outlet. You know those filters on Instagram? Yep, you’re creating your own version of art when you use those. Stressed or worried about something? Try drawing, painting, photographing, or crafting for an hour and see how you feel.

 

Lastly, art gives us a reason to stretch ourselves, to grow, and to engage in the greater conversation of the world. I challenge every student to look at art in a new way and ask what it can teach you!

 

For more answers to the question, “What does art teach us?” visit this website: http://www.conversation-of-art.com/question/what-can-we-learn-from-art

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