What’s the point of art? Is it really that important in our lives?

August 28, 2017

What’s the point of art?

There’s my whole blog here, not to mention universities, cultural movements, museums, entire lives, and who knows what else-all dedicated to art. Sometimes it makes me wonder:

What’s the point? What is the point of art, and is it really that important?

Cesar A. Cruz said:

“Art should comfort the disturb and disturb the comfortable.”

So, done. All figured out. Thank you Cesar for clearing that up.

The only problem is figuring out what in the world he meant, and if we even agree with him.

So first off:

Art should comfort the disturbed…”

Comforting the disturbed seems like a pretty worthwhile goal.

I’ve bonded with friends over movies, been refreshed by a beautiful graphic novel, been encouraged by adventurous novels, and was inspired by gorgeous art and mind-blowing sci fi.

I’d say that, yes, art has definitely comforted me when I was disturbed.

And not just me, art has also been a huge part of social movements throughout history and has been used to comfort/encourage/inspire those suffering through horrible experiences.

When people are scared or hurt some of them always reach out to each other with art.

You can look on Instagram right now and see that every recent tragedy has people trying to process it and show how they care about others through whatever medium they use. From portraits memorializing shooting victims to songs recorded to show solidarity to the marble memorials we use to honor the dead.

Art comforts us both in daily life and at our darkest times.

…and disturb the comfortable.”

Art obviously is an important part of comforting those in need-but what about those who don’t need to be comforted? Who have grown complacent, or lazy, or cruel?

Art has not only been part of social movements as it comforts those suffering-it also has a long history of challenging oppression and laziness.

Paintings showing the horrors of war meant to challenge us not to repeat the past, stories that force us to look more deeply at ourselves and our motivations (Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, anyone?), music that puts you in the shoes of others. Art has challenged me to be a better, more aware, and more sympathetic person at times.

And on a larger scale it has been used to challenge dictators, regimes, and oppression. There’s a reason that dictators have always tried to control or suppress it-it scares them.

It disturbs them.

An example of this is Ahmad Joudeh who was targeted by ISIS for his dancing but refused to stop and is now in the Netherlands working with the Dutch National Ballet-video here.

So, yes, I agree with Cesar A. Cruz.

“Art should [and can] comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

But is that all it should do?

Those are pretty broad categories, so I feel like I’ve fit all the uses of art under them-but what do you think?

Did I miss a valuable way art is used?

Do you disagree that art can actually do everything I mentioned?

Let me know in a comment!

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