By Mackenzie Currie
Why is art important? Is it needed for a long-standing career? Is it of equal importance as sports and sciences?
At first glance, these questions could be answered with a simple, “Art isn’t important.” However, a look into history may change that attitude towards this field.
Art is a way of expression or a way to convey a story. It has allowed people to express emotions without using words.
Let’s take the Renaissance, for example. During a time of crusades, plagues and war, there was barely anything to look forward to. However, in those times of great suffering, there also came a movement of music, sciences, mathematics and architecture that would forever shape the way Europe thought. Many artists, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelagelo, would create magnificent pieces, such as “The Last Supper” and “The Creation of Adam” respectively. This would also show the movement that religion had in the Renaissance. Additionally, the Renaissance would pave the way for many German Lieds, French chansons and lute music.
After a time of great despair, many artists can find a way to thrive. Some artists might even make an entire artform of itself.
Let’s take Shimokawa Oten [Shee-Moh-Kah-Wah Oh-Ten], for example. In 1917, Oten created what was known as the first anime to exist using chalk and lasting around five minutes in length. In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck many film studios and theaters, destroying the first example of this medium. However, that didn’t stop the medium from taking off. Later, in the midst of WWI, Oten, along with manga artist Junichi and painter Seitaro, renewed the fascination of the medium and started making small five-minutes pieces later to be dubbed anime. Japan didn’t see a vast growth in this medium until 1945 when the first full-length anime film was released.
You might be asking yourself, “Why does this matter?” Well, the answer is quite simple. In a time of disaster during WWII, Japan was able to build itself anew and get out of a depression partly because of this new medium, anime. The same thing goes for the Renaissance.
Pieces of art, such as paintings, music, movies, etc. can be used as ways to cope with the madness surrounding everyday life. Even now, the world is in the stages of a pandemic, various sites have been rampaged during riots and protestors are fighting for a freedom they once had but has been slowly inching away. We can find art as a way to cope. Even the saddest of songs—“Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel could be used as an example—can be a way of coping with the times we are currently facing as a nation.The harmonies provided give us a sense of emotion recognizable to all of us and well-known to some. Even songs that don’t have lyrics, “Beethoven’s 5th” or “Lacrimosa,” can convey a sense of emotion to its listeners. Certain timbres of an instrument can move listeners in a certain way to make them almost forget the problems they face for a while. If they don’t do that, then they can definitely spark inspiration for change in this world, for better or worse.
Mackenzie Currie is a junior theatre major from Portland, Indiana.