The Benefits of an Arts Education

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Gessica Silverman,  participated in the  Somerville Open Studios. I’ve known Gess for what seems like ages, although in reality it has only been 6 years. I still fondly recall the day she put her wish out there for the world to hear and told me she wanted to “make art.” The bravery it took to say her wish aloud and the work it took to bring it to life was inspiring. It has been many years since we colluded on ways to make art a reality. Now, Gess is doing what she loves best and sharing her talents with the world.

When we learned of Gess’ art show, my husband and I thought it would make a great family event. We packed the kids in the car and headed for Somerville. At the studio, Gess walked us through her pieces and explained how they were made, what they were made from, the concept behind the pieces, the parts of the art making process that gave her energy, and the parts of the process that proved to be challenging. Gess did a great job breaking the conversation down into kid friendly bits. However, while polite, the kids looked like they had some bottled up energy.

Gess gave each of my boys paper and markers. They soon settled down on the floor and began making art while the adults dove into perspective (horizon lines, background, foreground) and how each piece of Gess’ art took on a different look, feel, and meaning depending on where you were standing. Because Gess’ art is three dimensional, lighting, how far the piece hangs from the wall, as well as, mounting technique all played an important role in the finished piece.

The kids drifted in and out of the conversation, though for the most part, they silently and diligently worked on their art. After a bit of time, we said our goodbyes and headed towards the car. Though the boys were quiet at the studio, they opened up once seated. My 6 year-old shared his artwork with us. Although to the untrained eye, his drawing resembled a bunch of colorful, haphazardly spewed scribbles, he said to me, “Mom, this piece is about perspective…if you look over here (pointing), you can see a cruising ship.”

“Wow,” I thought. What looked like a little kid’s scribbles had suddenly turned into hidden pictures. There’s brilliance there. The two boys spent the next few minutes finding other hidden items. Their imaginations soared as they found trees and even items from the Harry Potter series!

I learned a lesson that day. Though I’ve read about the benefits of an arts education, seeing the benefits right before my eyes was moving. The fact my son didn’t really seem to be paying attention to the conversation about perspective, yet was able to extend and apply the concept demonstrated an ability to manipulate the idea of perspective to help transform his artwork. We could use more of this kind of thinking – in education, in business, in life. Ah, applied creativity and innovation!

Here are a few additional benefits of an arts education from

  1. Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
  2. Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.
  3. Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  4. Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
  5. Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
  6. Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.

Hats off to Gess and budding artists everywhere!


3 Responses to The Benefits of an Arts Education

  1. Jan Silverman says:

    You write beautifully! We always knew Gessica had talent! Your boys really listened. It’s what kids do . They just don’t admit it!

  2. Gessica says:

    Wow! I couldn’t agree more! Art making and the process of art making — drawing, visualizing, interpreting, and creating — are hugely important to all of us. It allows us to see and experience the world in a different way – with all senses open and alive. I am so humbled to have been a part of that day with you and your boys, and I am very grateful to be able to make art. Thank you, Alicia, for reminding the world how important this is!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *