The Importance of Art

Is Art Important to the World?

What is art? Why is this seemingly random act of creation found in every society? Why is it cherished, lauded, idolized? Is art important?

For me, as someone who dares claim the lofty title of “artist,” that last question rings the loudest. Why is my writing important? Or perhaps more truthfully phrased: Is it important?

Why Do We Write?

I write because it is a passion, a compulsion, even an obsession at times. I write because I have to, not because I believe anything I have to say is necessarily important. But still, I would still like think it is important. Like most members of the human race, I would like to be able to lay my head against the coolness of my pillow every night, knowing I’ve done something to make a difference in the world—to shed light on darkness—to bring joy in the face of pain—to exchange justice for injustice.

But in comparison to the life-saving skills of a surgeon or the soul-saving words of a great minister, my writing seems a paltry accomplishment indeed.

At the very least, I am only an entertainer, spinning make-believe out of the web of imagination. Maybe someone will smile over a funny line of dialogue; maybe my tragic closing scene will wring a tear or two; maybe some turn of phrase will even give someone a new outlook on something. But the chances are great that my words will be read and forgotten in a few weeks time. Not so very important in the overall scheme of things, is it?

Is Art Important?

My answer is a simple and absolute: Yes, it is.

Aside from its undeniable moral and intellectual influence, art, in any form, is a timeless celebration and commemoration of life. All of life is an expression. From the moment of our births, we are constantly expressing ourselves—our personalities, our moods, our paradigms, our opinions. In a nutshell, one might say life is expression.

And what is art but concentrated expression? In art, our feelings and our experiences explode onto the page (or the canvas or the screen or the keys of a piano) with colors heightened and sounds undiluted.

In art, I am allowed to step beyond my own body, my own existence. When I read a powerful book or listen to a beautiful piece of music, I am given the gift of experiencing things beyond my own understanding. I will never walk the streets of Dickens’s London, I will never know the martial glory of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” And yet… I have.

I cannot possibly hope to experience everything this world has to offer before I run out of life. But, in art, I can. I thrive on music and movies, paintings, and photography—and, of course, the written word. I love beautiful things, intense things, no matter their manifestations.

Art isn’t a waste of life. It’s a celebration of life. Every moment spent with art, in whatever form, is a moment lived to the fullest.

And so, I write.

Why We Must Write

Very likely, I will never write anything of lasting import. My outlook on life is probably not so very unique, my ideas not so very brilliant. I hardly expect to dispel darkness, pain, and injustice with the wave of my Pilot EasyTouch pen. All of those intangibles are too large for one person to even hope to dent. But I can celebrate the life God has given me in the best way I know do it, and I can share my celebration with those around me.

A life unshared is a life wasted. For those of us with a gift and a passion for the arts, we have the honor of sharing our lives on a broader stage than that which is given to most people. Some of us may reach national or even international acclaim, some of us may actually make a dent in the darkness. Most of us, however, will work away in the solitude of our own homes, our words reaching out to only a handful of people.

The ultimate destination of my work does not concern me. That is a decision left to a higher power. What does concern me is that, even if only one person can relate to what I have written, what I am sharing—if only one person can join me in my celebration of experience—then the work I have loved and labored over has fulfilled its purpose.

Tell me your opinion: What do you think? Is art important to the world?

 is art important

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Your words have touched me and I am just one person–but your purpose is not complete–yet!!
    Keep Writing Sir.

  2. Thank you!

  3. When the artists of a civilization stop dreaming, that civilization is dead. How many past civilizations lost their dreamers?

    The dreamers actually lead the way and help the “public” become aware of and accept new ideas. Much of the space program (all facets) is a direct result of the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

    Revel in it!

  4. I may well be prejudiced, but it’s my opinion that artists have been at the forefront of every great civil movement (whether for good or bad). It’s a powerful, responsibility-laden position, to be sure.

  5. one of the better posts on what is art (writing, painting, etc) –

    should be re-posted i think 😉

    thank you much

  6. Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Brian Rogers says

    I remember reading something Douglas Adams wrote. He said he mistrusted the idea of art, and that the idea of art discouraged creativity. His idea was that people would come up with cool ideas and things that would be fun to create, then abandon them because they wouldn’t be considered “art.”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Good quote. “Art” tends to have a toploftical connotation – as if it can only be created by people with horn-rimmed glasses and Boston accents. But that, of course, is ridiculous. All humans are artists, in their own ways, whether they realize it or not.

  8. I agree with everything you’ve said, except that I think it does matter how many people we ultimately reach. Some writers, like Petronius Arbiter, do not get published until 1600 years after their death. But still, whether we get read by just one person or multitudes does make a difference to everyone — not just ourselves but all the people who do or do not end up reading us.

    Some ideas are buried, because their proponents are in the minority. While I write out of compulsion and cannot stop just because of a dearth of readers, ultimately it will make a difference whether I am read or not.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I think I would still write even I knew I would never be read. It’s the act of the story that matters most to me. Of course, I want to be read (by millions!), but, for me, that’s only icing. I already have the cake just by the act of creation.

  9. I think this has to be the best argument for art I’ve ever read! Whenever I feel the need for validation as an unpublished writer, I’m going to return for a re-read. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Sometimes it’s easy to feel that art is a waste of time, especially in the face of more practical concerns. But why do we pursue the practical if not to make room for the artistic?

  10. Suzan Robertson says

    Resistance against tyranny has always been supported by the arts. Dissident artists helped bring down the USSR and Communism in Eastern Europe. Art is more than important, it is vital for humans to express themselves in an artistic manner. It keeps the barbarians and tyrants at bay, and reveals beauty and truth to the world. I shudder to think of how the world would be without it.

  11. Great Post, Katie. I am one of those who have been touched…inspired even…by your writing.

  12. Ruth Fanshaw says

    This post is actually a confirmation of something I believe that God has been saying to me recently. 🙂 Thank you! 🙂

    Tell me, have you ever read an essay called ‘Vocation in Work’ by Dorothy L Sayers? I found it a very good read. 🙂

    Her view was that part of being created in the image of God is the urge to create. She believed (and I agree with her) that this can be fulfilled through many forms of work, but especially in artistic work. 🙂

  13. I feel like this is one of your earliest posts. Thank you for this wonderful reminder and explanation of what art is to our lives.

    This just goes to show that art transcends time and space. No matter how many years may pass, art will be art and unlike the physical manifestation of man, it undergoes change in the opposite direction.

    Instead of growing weaker throughout the years, it becomes stronger and and more resilient as time passes by. It builds on the very moment it was shown and helps us realize that it will continue to live even when life ceases from our veins.

    I hope to *show* my love for art in the future. Bravo to Ms. Weiland! You are, by far, one of the most humble and and inspiring writers I’ve ever met.

  14. Becky Diaz says

    I needed to read this article badly. Thank you so much.
    My to-be-read pile grows bigger everyday. As a reader I treasure it but as a writer I wonder sometimes, does my writing even matter? There is so much out there, so many books, so many great writers, why would my stories make any difference, be of any importance whatsoever? Why am I doing this?
    And usually hits me, I’m doing it because I can’t help it, because I need it. Reading and writing has been my passion since my childhood. Since I can remember it’s been my refuge.
    But it’s so good to know that others may need to read my stories too and use them as a refuge of their own
    Thank you.

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