Why are the Arts important to us?
When we look back and want to understand cultures of the past, we frequently look to their Art to tell us who they were. What will be said of us? It is more than the human need to say who we are. It is an unspoken collective dialogue we have with each other. How we value that voice says what we are about as a people; you might say as a country.
I did not always feel it's importance. At first it was a private outpouring of how I felt: My first grade family portrait, a forest fire painting given to a friend in cub scouts, or designing a better world where I could live.
As I have grown I work outside and have discovered the satisfaction of connecting with people who pass and see my work. I consider it a privilege to be the ambassador of the Arts on those days. I never met a painter until I was grown. Even more recently, I have seen its effect of forming community and bringing people together.
I don't really have a philosophy about painting. I only want to see. Painting is a way of forcing myself to be honest with what I am seeing. I become consumed with the act of seeing and then there is the natural result of showing how I feel. It is more of a discovery than something I start out to say. I don't wish to tell people what to think so much as to just encourage thinking.
Forget that it inspires a child in a state that needs to have a better self image of the possibilities of who he or she can be. Forget that it puts a better face on a place that is viewed as on the bottom in so many other areas. Forget that it is an economic generator for areas that are sometimes overlooked. Forget that it integrates so many disciplines and studies on an unconscious level. But don't forget the Arts.
I was asked to speak at a school about the importance of the Arts. My father was a football/ baseball coach. For him sports was about teaching how to live. Sportsmanship and character. It can still be but nowadays it can be too much about steroid use, big contracts, or or some kind of celebrity. I bet no one has ever been asked to give a speech about the importance of sports. We just know sports are important.
I am from a small town. Not especially arty. I believe Art is for everybody in the same way that fishing is for everybody. All you need is a cane pole and the inclination to want it.
The Arts will go on. I would like to see it continue as well as it can in an environment of support instead of a shadow of struggle. The National Endowment for the Arts is now under attack but more locally, the Mississippi Arts Commission. Today there is a bill being discussed that would abolish the Mississippi Arts Commission. If you feel the Arts importance as I do, please call the state officials you elected NOW and voice your opposition to HB 1325 and SBA 2611.
Leave messages for Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves, and committee chairs Buck Clarke and John Read. "Please vote against combining MDA and MAC." (Be sure to leave your name. No anonymous calls.)
UPDATE: The MAC was saved! Thankful to have politicians in the state of Mississippi who value our culture and our art.