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Art Appreciation

Art Appreciation

I don’t know if it is something that I was born with, or if it is something that was cultivated by the environment that I grew up in. I would be surprised if the classes that I took in school did anything at all to cultivate my appreciation of the arts. I actually think that the opposite is true, although I am strongly supportive of art education for children. They were not doing a very good job when I was a kid, and they aren’t doing any better a job today. The curriculum that my kids follow through our public virtual school is nosebleed boring, yet surprisingly; they will all say that their favorite subject is art. Furthermore, through our method of education, we squash the art that naturally exists as a part of every other subject of study. There are beautiful art forms that exist in the fields of science, literature, and even mathematics, yet through the uniformity of our educational system seeks to snuff out each and every one.

I am not just speaking of the problem in my own country. I was lucky enough to study abroad for a year when I was fifteen. I spent the year in France and learned a lot about the country. An interesting thing that a lot of people don’t know about France, is that outside of the fashion industry, they are contributing very little new art to the world. This, of course, is hugely embarrassing to a nation that covets art so greatly that it surrendered to the Nazi’s in world war two because it didn’t want to see Paris bombed, and all of the architecture destroyed.

Going to school there, I grew to understand why. In literature class, we read an amazing classical French novel (loosely titled in English, because it has never been translated,) A King Without A Diversion. I absolutely adore the story, and unfortunately I cannot recommend it to anyone who can't  read the French language. My excitement after reading it was quickly squelched when I returned to class to examine the story. In my tortuously three hour French classes we proceeded to pick apart the work paragraph by painstaking paragraph. I was disgusted. The process literally made me sick to my stomach. Why did the author use this word? Why does this sentence resemble that one? We literally dissected a beautiful piece of artwork, and just like when you dissect an animal to understand how it works, by the time you have finished, it is dead.

I remember being one of the few students that was capable of answering any of the creative questions that the professor of that class posed to us, which is ironic considering that I was the only pupil struggling with a language barrier. I did know that I was the only student that seemed to be offended by the way that we murdered authors’ works in the classroom. The other kids had never done things any differently, so they had no grasp of how truly offensive the practice was to me. I understand now that it must be the very root of why their country is struggling to produce new art or find any inspiration. Quite literally they are teaching their children to disrespect art, and the creations of artists themselves.

I think this is a very important message to share because we have not quite yet gotten to that in our country, at least not with the youngest and most impressionable of minds. I did not attend college, and I suspect that they are pretty big on picking apart the works of artists in that venue. We need to stand back and look at what we are doing. Creation, the ability to generate something completely new and different is one of the greatest gifts that an individual can have. We need to find a way to return reverence to the artist. We need to find a way to cultivate art appreciation in our newer generations through inspiring them rather than by giving them more regimented rules to follow. The spark of inspiration must be nurtured and fanned or the flames of creation will never grow into the fire of art.


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