The Ability of the Arts to Transcend the Classroom

By Kallie Hoffman

What is a life without a creative outlet?  Is any right more sacred than freedom of expression?  Combine the two, and the power of creative expression is infinite.  The arts represent the universe of the uninhibited, or as Pablo Picasso once observed, “to draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”  The magic of the arts is that it allows an individual to access a section of his mind that was previously closed and release something unique and personal.  Imagination fuels change and progress, and as it opens seemingly impossible new frontiers, it helps pioneer our future.  The arts exist in every country and every culture, and thus, they have no limitations.  At a time of turmoil in the United States, when our political leaders want to construct a wall to keep immigrants from entering the country, the arts defy any concept of borders.  They can expose all that is ugly in society, but they also can show us what is pure and natural and beautiful.  No matter how inhumane the world is or may become, there is humanity in every work of art.

Although the arts may not be the first priority for high school students at Byram Hills, they can be just as influential and important as science, history or math. Exposure to the arts enhances our creative instincts and opens the door to new ways of seeing the world.  Freshman Allison Stillman says that “art is always a time I look forward to during my day because there is an unlimited number of interpretations and allows everyone to reveal themselves without restraint.” The arts help to stimulate innovation, but they are particularly beneficial in high school, as they provide an outlet for students to be defined by something other than a test score.  Sophomore Nicole Meyer appreciates “how it is the one period where [she] is not graded on ability, just solely on effort and how much focus is put into each day.”  

As students attempt to balance their rigorous class schedules, extracurricular activities and social obligations, the arts provide a therapeutic release of stress and anxiety.  The rhythmic and repetitive motion of drawing steadies the body and mind and allows students to express a different part of their personality.  The arts add balance to our lives, enable students to address topics that may be difficult to put into words, and offer an escape from the rigidity of more linear subjects in the curriculum.  Freshman Michael Vaquero believes that “art is separate from school work and it always puts [him] in a good mood because it allows his feelings to be displayed.”  There is no substitute for creative thought and expression, as it is a necessary component of every job and career.

Attend the BHHS AP Art Show on April 5-6! (Image by Alexandra Brocato)

Importantly, art also challenges the individual to grow and evolve and deal with his emotions. Anger can be represented in a painting or a sculpture, as can joy or disappointment. The arts offer students the opportunity to speak without words, to suggest change without confrontation, to provide symbols of peace and understanding.  Analyzing art allows the audience to form its own judgments and reach its own conclusions and understandings.  In art, unlike math, there is no right or wrong, which means we all should be willing to see each other’s point of view.  In that message alone, the arts have incredible value.

Without the existence of the arts, students would miss the opportunity to explore new talents and develop their inner potential.  Yet another attraction of the arts is that they are all-inclusive.  Art forms do not care about race, religion, ethnicity or age; they exist outside of stereotypes and without prejudice.  The arts simply connect people rather than driving them away.  They are a mechanism to communicate new ideas and afford students the opportunity to see the world from different perspectives.  The arts have the power to heal minds and shape identities; they expand the human experience and create interesting ways for people to tell their stories.  Whether it is music, theater, photography or painting, the arts challenge and provoke, but in every case, they provide a “treasure of a million worlds and a million ways to view its wonders,” as Daniel Fishman, an art enthusiast once said.