Is Art really Necessary?
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Many people think of “art” as the exclusive domain of the sophisticated. That it has no relevance in the lives of the ordinary. That art does not serve a practical purpose other than ‘decorate’ the lives of the affluent.

But, in fact, art is for everybody. It is an often overlooked fact that people rely much on art in all its forms in their everyday lives. Art is a vehicle for expression and communication; for things that cannot be better conveyed by words, either written or said. 

Truth is, people embrace art in their daily lives – although not always consciously. They are surrounded by art. Their sense of art is necessarily one of the key traits that make them human.

Art has existed for as long as humankind has. This is evidenced by the markings that prehistoric peoples have left on cave walls and rock faces. Although, yes, those people might not have intended these to be art works, but simply symbols that had a practical purpose.

Whether the purpose was to tell others of their claim of the territory, or to warn others of the dangers that lurk in the area, or just to tell a story – those primitive inscriptions are art works, just the same.

It takes art to deeply grasp human emotions, to be self-aware, and to realize that one is part of a whole. And yet, at the same time, art has a very practical function. The simple fact that art works can embellish the ambiance of the homes of the artsy is at least a testament of art’s practical function.

Almost every home has some kind of art in it – a painting, a photograph, a table ornament. The very layout and design of the house itself is art. And even the most modestly designed house is meant to serve a purpose, generally for the convenience and comfort of its residents.

Art is not purely for looking at and admiring. Framed portraits of people are hanged conspicuously in the living room, because those faces light up the space and warm the feelings of the people in the house. There is a function to what often seems like sheer vanity.

Music, an art form, is a universal language. Everyone knows how music works in their lives. It brings on a certain experience – at times inexplicably, but oftentimes as the tune or melody reminds of moments that are memorable to the heart.

Modern medicine has since tapped the power of music to heal certain emotional conditions. And ordinary people have long known how music can have a huge effect on their mood. In the workplace, music is also used to boost workers’ focus and productivity.

Classical dance enrich the human experience. It mimics the graceful poise of nature. It hints of the vast range of human possibilities, with training, determination, and discipline.

Art has an economic angle to it too. For example, communities hold festivals that showcase the best artistry of their place. These often draw tourists and spur economic activities for the local people.

Those pieces of work displayed in galleries and museums – paintings, sculptures etc. – are not the only art there is. There is so much more art than what can be contained in those intimidating places frequented by the elite. Art is everywhere, influencing people in their daily lives, whether they realize it or not.

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