When I was in High School, I had an influential English teacher named Ms. Tipton. Initially, I viewed her as the one solely responsible for assigning harsh loads of homework but that hardly scratches the surface of her impact. Ms. Tipton challenged my worldview. She encouraged my creativity and opened my mind to the influential literary works of Emerson, Thoreau, Hemingway, and Coelho. Although, most importantly, she provided me with a platform to present my ideas, inspiration, and unique individuality through creative writing assignments and painstaking essays. I would never have admitted it at the time but - looking back - Ms. Tipton had a profound impact on my life.
One day, Ms. Tipton stands in front of the class and asks if any of us has ever written poetry.
"Poetry?" I scoffed. "Poetry is for fairies."
Ignoring my crass remark, she slaps us with a fresh assignment: Write a poem.
I remember sitting silently at my desk with a blank mind. There is much negative stigma surrounding poetry and perhaps I was to blame for obstructing ideas from passing from my mind, down to my right hand, out of my pencil, and onto paper.
"This is Horse5#!7," I thought. "I didn't come here for games."
With time running out, I was forced to recalibrate and reluctantly penned a poem.
Surprisingly, it was pretty good! The poem was shrouded in key-words that depicted elements of my private life. It was humorous and playful yet, mysterious and thought-provoking. It was genius. More notably, it means something to me. It is my brain-child, a product of my creativity and labor. The poem had remarkable depth and - along with the others from the class - the paper adorned the corridor of our school for a couple weeks. I would sometimes stop and read my work while shuttling between classes (or when I found myself in the hallway for long periods of time). I would reflect on its personal meaning and retract to the moment when I wrote it. It was gratifying and uplifting.
Poetry is just one of many forms of art. Others include: music, song, film, theatre, photography, dance, painting, drawing, culinary arts, and even imagination. Art is powerful because it is more than just leisure and aesthetics, it is alive. Aside from its entertaining properties, art has the ability to trigger novel thought and fresh emotion. It can activate memory and inspire enlightening ideas and courageous action. This happens because the benefits of art are multifaceted. When an artist successfully fashions a finished product they put a piece of themselves into their work. If it is personally satisfying, kvelling ensues. Perhaps, they have found consolation in the arts; not just relief but long term empowerment, especially if the work is timeless and can be returned to. It can then relieve, educate, uplift, and entertain the viewer, listener, or patron. If it is coherent it can encourage them to create their own form of artistry thereby continuing the cycle of progressive inspiration.
Art acts as a conductor where real live emotion can be passed from artist to observer. In its unadulterated form, art can even communicate. Music, for instance, is an excellent form of communication. Even to this day, musicians use the power of song to influence society and spread ideas. Aside from lyrics, the top-note of a melody can stir the emotions of even the hardened criminal because music conveys moods and feelings in ways that spoken word cannot articulate. Known as the language of the Soul, music is a catapult that sends me soaring into the unknown. Using the strings of an instrument, I can climb to a higher level of consciousness while being supported by the vibrations and security of the melody. Music is VITALITY. I have told friends that if I ever kick the bucket they should play some of my favorite tunes because I will rise from the dead.
While I indulge in many types of art, it is writing that truly fascinates me. The fact that your eyes scan the numerous symbols and characters on this screen and can present an idea or produce a feeling is mesmerizing. It is subtle and simplistic, yet it can transmit even the minute intricacies entangled within the complexities of human thought and existence. Take, for example, this quote:
"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don't have to escape from."
For some, it's provocative, for others, earth-shattering. What's blissfully apparent is that a one-liner has the power to change a life. The mere formation and placement of symbolic characters can inspire one to evaluate their lifestyle or question the norm.
Photography can be even more powerful than writing. According to an old adage: "a picture is worth a thousand words" but it really depends on the quality of the picture. Because photographs are visual they can be a catalyst to boost the power of imagination. The sheer ambiguity of some snapshots can instill emotions based on the viewer's interpretation. They can capture and immortalize a moment, promote dialogue, and even start a revolution. Below are selected pictures from my portfolio that will arouse feeling in the heart and activity in the brain:
"The Right Moment"
"We Found Love"
"The Good Life"
"The Sun Will Shine Again"
Photo Credit: Sparks of David Photography
Similar to music, still-images, along with film and theatre, can be a captivating tool to transmit a message to an audience. When used in a classroom-setting it can often help student retain more information by exciting the brain with audio-visual stimulation as opposed to conventional ways of learning. For performers, the art of entertainment can upgrade their personality and - by assuming the role of another - is a fun and harmless way to get away from the daily grind and everyday routine.
To dance is to find rhythm in chaos. Much like exercise, through dance, one can express strong emotions and energy that would otherwise be inescapable. It also unleashes a rare freedom in the dancer. The ol' one-two step increases breathing and heart-rate which pushes the body to higher capacity thus, making room for bigger and better things in life.
What moves you? Whichever form of art tickles your fancy or lifts your luggage, embrace it. Use it as a tool to fuel your imagination and uplift your lifestyle. Find an outlet for the immeasurable amount of energy and emotion that rages through your body and use it as a way to express yourself. Enjoy art's natural relieving properties and delve into your own special interests through creativity and expression. But most importantly, have fun, explore, and enjoy.
All Art is powerful. Although, one type sticks out from the rest:
The Art of Living