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Is Art a Waste of Time in the Age of Coronavirus?

In today's COVID age, it’s easy to think art isn't essential. Even before the pandemic, creatives still had to prove their worth. At face value, art is only aesthetics and something to brag to your friends about consuming. But when you dive deep, one sees the impact art has on our community. It can shape how we view the world and ourselves. It can serve as an escape from our boring, mundane lives. Best of all, when you're the creator, you experience a catharsis and introspection not otherwise possible.

In an article published by the University of Delaware, senior student Chiara Fiori talks about her digital photo of a hospital worker. This piece was selected by the United Nations for a stamp project, one out of about 17,000 submissions. Although she did the art to express her gratitude, she says she mostly did the work for herself.

“I use art as therapy when I’m feeling anxious or stressed out[.] Watching the news, you feel compelled to act, and this gives you an outlet.”

“I’d just go crazy right now if I couldn’t create[.] I feel that, as an artist, you have the power to decide the atmosphere you’re living in. This experience has shown me how fortunate I am to be part of the creative community at UD. Even when the world comes to a standstill — even during difficult times — I know I have the power to keep going, to keep trying to inspire people.”

When life is hard, we turn to whatever coping mechanisms are available to us. Family, TV, video games, alcohol, drugs, gambling. As Chiara Fiori demonstrates, art is one of the best ways a person can cope during difficult times. Not only because it helps them out, but the product of the artist can inspire another.

Jordan B Peterson says something about the role of artists which hits an important point.

“What’s the role of art in a healthy culture? The artists are the people who first articulate the unknown. And so of artists in a healthy culture is to bring to public awareness elements of being that have not yet entered the collective consciousness. Imagine that we’re all living on an island and many of us are in the center of the island far enough away. So maybe we can’t see the shoreline and we can’t see the ocean. That’s where our borders end. The artists are right on the edge, and they’re expanding the landscape, they’re moving the culture forward...”

Openmindedness is a skill the world needs. To dare to break through the walls of normalcy. What would entertainment be like without The Beatles? The Sopranos? DJ Kool Herc? Good artists are unconventional operators, not afraid to leave the hivemind bring innovation.

But alas, large parts of the art world are looked down upon—elitist, stupid, vague for the sake of being vague. Don’t get me wrong, some of the comments are well deserved. But we miss out on an important link to our history. These are works that come from the greatest minds in human history.

When you read classic literature, you’re not only reading ink on a page. You’re reading the mind of a genius. With such a powerful at your fingertips, it’s best to savor it and appreciate its in-depthness. A lot of people may glance and forget a work of art, but to do that is only cheating yourself. YouTuber R.C Waldun says it best when talking about the dangers of speed-reading and Cliffnotes.

“...[N]ever will you ever get that full psychological revelation. Never would you ever derive the true joy out of reading books if you just go for these broad point summaries...”

This can apply to any medium. Painting. Music. Pick a piece that speaks to you. Then sit down and analyze it. I get it, no one likes hard work. But try it. If you stick with it, it may no longer seem like a waste of time.

Thank you for reading. Does any of this resonate with you? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment down below. And as always, I’ll see you next week.

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