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Why Art is Essential for Humanity (and the Classroom)

Art has been present all throughout history. From cave paintings to classical sculptures to contemporary art that we live through now, art has a long history of allowing humans to express themselves. But what makes art so special? Is it truly the glue that holds society together? Keep reading to learn 10 reasons why art is essential for humans, in and out of the classroom.

Not a reader? No worries - we have a quick video summary on why art is essential to humanity!

What is Art?

paint brushes

This question always comes up when discussing art, mostly because art is hard to define. Some people think it’s even impossible to define what art is. An easy way to describe art is as an expression of one’s creativity. It is a way for people to internalize the outside world and represent it to viewers in a new way.

10 Reasons Why Art is Important

Brain Development & Problem Solving

art for brain development

Art is often considered the forgotten subject in schools, but really, it is fundamental to child development. Art helps people learn from seeing instead of merely listening to words. They can learn to solve problems by visually representing it. Art also helps children develop fine motor skills, think critically, and expand their creativity –skills that are essential for their future. Art is proven to improve students’ behaviour and attention in more math and science based classes as well.

Art Builds Confidence

In the same way that outdoor sports and dance classes help to build children’s (and even adults) confidence, art does the same. Learning to visually communicate can help people become confident in expressing themselves and having a voice because they are validated for their interpretation of the world. Think of the quote “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Art allows people to use visual methods to understand that what they have to say is important and valuable. There is also a sense of accomplishment in creating and completing something that is completely unique to the individual. This can even help people become confident outside of art and give them the courage to use their voice in the real world.

Self Expression and Exploration

self expression, kid painting

For some people, art is used as a tool to express how they’re feeling. The use of colour and using one’s hands to create something allows the artist to release what they feel onto a canvas (or paper). This allows for the creator to learn more about their feelings, what they like, and what they are capable of.

Making Art Improves Mood

Because of the self expression that takes place while making art, there is also a mood boost that comes from the activity. According to the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), art enhances brain function and positively impacts the nervous system. Creating art lowers stress (which is why art therapy is a growing treatment for depression and anxiety), helps us imagine a bright future, and allows us to process our emotions.

Viewing Art Improves Mood

Museum visit

Just as making art improves moods, viewing art can do the same! The ACRM explains that viewing art releases blood flow to the same part of the brain as when looking at a loved one. This means that simply looking at a piece of art that you think is beautiful can make you feel happier and give you a mood boost!

Art Connects Us to History

Art is a fun and interesting way to learn about the history of any place. Art has existed for so long that it’s often the only information we have left from some ancient societies, even before written language was invented. Art history gives viewers a look into the world as seen by actual people during that time. It tells stories and helps viewers today learn from the past.

Cultural Appreciation

Han Dynasty Figure Painting and Benin Kingdom Bronze Sculpture
(Left) Han Dynasty Figure Painting (Right) Benin Kingdom Bronze Sculpture

Just like how art can give us an inside look through history, art can also give us a place to witness and experience other cultures. We can learn about cultures that existed in the past and how they exist now in the world. Learning about cultures is an important part of life, as it helps us create meaningful connections with the people around us and give us a greater understanding of the world.

Bridging Divides Through Art

"Art is a universal language, and through it each nation makes its own unique contribution to the culture of mankind," is a famous quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Art is one way to communicate that everyone can understand because it uses images we all know. This allows for common understanding to be built between people, no matter how different they may be. Often, art can be used as a way to start a conversation, even if it deals with difficult subject matters.

Art Adds Beauty to the World

a kid painting a landscape

One of the main reasons that a lot of artists choose to make art is for this simple fact: it adds beauty to our lives. In a world where things can sometimes not go as hoped for, art allows people to escape for a little bit into something beautiful. It creates a space where the outside world can disappear and the viewer can become one with the artwork.

Art Is in Our Nature

hand art

With all of these reasons given, the question still stands: why do we create? Why do we feel the need to add beauty to the world, depict our life, or use art as an expression? Well, that’s because art is in our nature. From an early age, toddlers are inclined to draw (sometimes on walls), play with food, and dance to music. Self expression has happened for thousands of years, and it’s not going away any time soon. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist in the traditional sense (painting, singing, sculpting), there’s still a high chance that the urge to create or focus on aesthetics presents itself in your life in one way or another, even if you don’t expect it to.

How Art Can Become Your Career

art as a career

One concern that many people have when encouraging arts is the future career options in the field. Many people ask: “Is art school worth it?” Surprisingly, there are actually many careers that an art-centered student can pursue in the future, and many of the applied arts careers are known as design. Here are some less known art careers that are happy surprises to most parents, and are used in many different industries:

Entertainment Designers are professional artists who create games, movies, TV shows, and even theme parks! They draw storyboards, design and model characters, create movie sets, and edit videos in post production to enhance the colours or alter the mood.

Graphic Designers are creative professionals who design signage, guides, maps, books, the screens we interact with on apps and programs we use for work, school, play, and navigation.

Industrial Designers are the people who create and innovate new products we use to be manufactured, like furniture, tools, toys, gadgets, cookware, and appliances.

Environmental Designers are artists who imagine and design our world’s public and private spaces, exteriors, interiors, and infrastructure, including homes, offices, schools, malls, roads and bridges.

These are just to name a few!

Ultimately, art is a huge part of our lives and well being. Artists are not just limited to galleries. We often don’t realize that art is present in almost everything we use -- from the clothes we wear to the games we play to the screens we interact with for work and school. Art is a great tool for people to use as a way to express who they are while also learning about the world around them. It allows us to explore cultures while getting a mood boost at the same time!

Are you interested in enrolling your child in art classes to stimulate their creativity and grow their imaginations? Browse our roster of virtual art classes!

Teacher Resources:

If you’re a teacher, you may have noticed that art education is severely underfunded in our school systems compared with math, science, and technology. Still, art is very important for student development as it allows for self expression and creative thinking. Winged Canvas offers many art programs for schools to support teachers including Elementary and High School Workshops and Art Resources for Teachers that focus on elements of art, art history, and drawing to help teachers in the classroom.

If you’d like to access worksheets related to art, check out our teachers pay teachers page where you can get handouts and lesson plans for your classroom!

Any teacher now can facilitate world-class visual art lessons — even with no art experience! Get our art courses designed for classrooms, complete with step by step video lessons, assessment tools and handouts you can use every year.

If you're an educator, you're eligible for special pricing — 50% off our regular course price! Art Projects for Your Classroom

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