The Art of Living

Published online: Aug 17, 2020 Articles, Education And Arts Erin Nazario
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Let us read, let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

-Voltaire


Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.   

-Sarah Dessen


Music will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.       

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer


What an experience each of us is living right now. There is so much uncertainty; so much pain, hurt, fear, and still… so much hope for a better tomorrow. Each day in quarantine was another day to be grateful for imagination and creativity. More recently, each day of the riots was another day to be grateful for expression and outlets for that expression -- not the hurtful kind or the damaging kind, but the artistic form of expression.  

In these trying times, almost all of us have turned to the arts in some way or another for comfort and sometimes understanding.

While turning to social media as my only window to the outside world during the Stay-At-Home Order, I saw so many amazing ideas and creativity come to life. A few dear friends put together a virtual musical parody. Local high school choirs put together wonderful virtual performances that brought me to tears.  

I saw beautiful artwork created by many of my friends’ children, and I heard some fantastic original music produced and performed by talented people in my life. 

In the midst of the fear, I found laughter in creative and imaginative memes. I finally made my way into a Radio City Rockette dance class and was not asked to leave because of my less than 5’7” stature (I am 4’11’’) as I had been in the past. My children started writing stories again and making homemade stuffed animals and other crafts. Last, and certainly not least, I spent an unmentionable amount of time watching movies and entertainment.  

What all of these have in common is the art of creation. The arts matter. The arts in education matter even more.  

As life began to emerge from quarantine and the focus shifted to riots for equal rights, it is the arts, again, that give us an outlet for healthy expression. This is what we need to be teaching our children instead of fighting one another. The most powerful images of any protest have been incredibly artistic. I think of the man kneeling down before a line of policemen with guns at the ready. I think of the 1960s image of the girl putting a flower in the barrel of a gun. I remember back to my high school history class when Mr. Francis showed us the image of a lone civilian standing in front of a convoy of tanks in Tiananmen Square during the protests of 1989.   

These images have become art. Art can be a powerful tool with its color and connections through paintings, dance, design, or imagery. In the same way, the written word can be so incredibly powerful whether it is a poem, a song, a play, or a story. I truly believe the arts is the way to equality. The arts don't discriminate. It has no age limit; no color preference; no gender requirement; no skill prerequisite; no language barrier; no boundaries for greatness. The arts give power to the weak, a voice to the quiet, movement to the stagnant, confidence to the fearful and a family to the outcast.  

If we, as a society, put more merit in the importance of art in education, there would be incredible strides made towards acceptance and understanding as well as more well-rounded contributing members of the human race. Giving our students an outlet for expression and a toolbox for healthy expression could be the key to a brighter future. 

Perhaps my rainbow glasses are too thick, but watching the world over the last few months, the most unifying and comforting images and experiences have included the arts in some way. We are social beings craving connection, understanding, enlightenment, education, acceptance, and relationships. The arts can be an avenue to all of this.  

As we prepare our children to return to a new school year with more uncertainty, it saddens me that the state’s education budget has been slashed once again. As I am sure the first programs on the chopping block will be the arts classes, I encourage you to look for other opportunities in our area for your children to experience the arts. 

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