While researching the world of art and where it fits into our daily lives I found a plethora of information about art therapy and how it is used to combat mental illness. Usually referred to as art therapy, art is taught in clinics and schools and is a way for those suffering from mental illness to communicate or to create through an art medium. While I appreciate the efforts and applaud those involved with art therapy – what I was really looking for was how art is reflected in our daily lives and how it makes us healthier in simple everyday living. I realize this is terribly vague so here is an example. I am involved with a local volunteer arts group in my town and much of the art we place is in government buildings with clearly no budget for décor. These are gray sterile buildings with little to no color. Three times a year we host an art event, featuring local artists from our county – the art is exhibited for two months and then it comes down and in another month or so another group goes up. Employees in this building often remark on how much they enjoy the art and actually request certain types of art that they can see from their desks. They have also said how barren the place seems when we are between exhibits and how it makes them feel somewhat blue. This got me to thinking. How important is art in the everyday? How dull and lifeless would our lives be without it? One of the first programs to go in almost any school when budgets are tight is the art and music program. Does anyone every stop to think that this art outlet might be the only opportunity in a child’s life to have any art education? What is going to happen to our future Picasso’s or Georgia O’Keefe’s if they are denied a creative outlook? Growing up we had art every Friday in elementary school. It was probably my favorite day of the week; not only was it Friday but it was art Friday. To this day I remember those classes and have made art a part of my life as far back as I remember.
Art in the everyday can be represented in a number of ways. We have galleries and museums which are easily definable and easily accessible. We also have guerilla art that can be – but not always – illegal. It is often street art, graffiti, urban art and or clandestine art created in the dark of night and left to enjoy during daylight hours. In these cases no one knows who the artist is, which gives the art more mystery and probably more value. In a nearby city there was a brief period of guerilla art. Roving bands of knitters, yes knitters, were adding knitted sleeves to utility poles. Bands of color ran up and down the utility for a foot or two and local shopkeepers who were lucky enough to have one of these light poles outside their shop windows enjoyed the color and unconventional nature of the pieces. Unfortunately city officials did not agree. I don’t know what ended up happening but I do know they were concerned that guerilla art such as this could become rampant and who knows how many other mad knitters, armed with skeins of yarn and knitting needles would dare to grace their local utility poles with their creations.
Art brings us color obviously, but it also brings us perspective. We get to see someone else’s vision through their art. Perhaps if we can begin to understand someone else’s vision of a landscape or botanical painting we may also begin to see the bigger picture and see other things in life through someone else’s vision. Conceivably, art can be the bridge between two perspectives – reaching across the aisle so to speak. Bring art into your everyday though paintings but also through clothing, accessories, jewelry, office furniture, wall hangings, mobiles, garlands and gardens.