Beth Manifesto: Why Art?





When I was learning to be an art teacher, these four universal needs were the essence of my purpose. I wanted all my students to leave the classroom knowing for certain that these things existed within them. Nine years later, and I still feel the same way. Moreover, I've noticed that these core values are actually things that I have been actively growing in myself since I wrote these words down as a young, idealistic teacher who was eager to affect change in other peoples lives.

Back then I was incredibly passionate about art and how it could have a positive impact on the hearts and minds of my students. I don't know what happen, but I seemed to have lost a little vigor along the way. Reading back through my statement of purpose from teaching has lit a fire within me. Though I don't teach art, my statement could have been "Why Computers? Why Yoga? Why Spirituality? Why Jewelry? Why Food?" Art was simply the medium for me to communicate much broader issues that can be found within any learning context.

I see now that this tiny seed I planted nine years ago has truly taken root and continually informs all that I do. I hope you find some nugget of truth for you in the Beth Manifesto where you begin to see art or something else that you do in a new way.

Why Art?

Art Exercises the Mind
The making of art evokes, develops, and refines various forms of thinking: problem solving, sequencing, judging, and assessing. This type of cognitive development coupled with the emotive qualities of art trains students to cope with the ambiguities and uncertainties of life. Art mimics real adult tasks that don't have concrete outcomes and moves beyond the rules of formally structured curricula.

Art Cultivates Cultural Capital
...art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
- John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Art cultivates the senses and constructs cultural meaning. It is a means by which we make sense of the world and our individual and collective experiences.

Art Creates Literacy
I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I had no words for.
- Georgia O'Keefe, artist

One of an educator's highest aims is to promote effective communication. Visual imagery is essential to social communication, and therefore, necessary in the development of a literate society.

Art Promotes Problem-Based Learning
The creation of art begins with the asking of a question. Art in its most elemental form is a problem solved, where students learn about innovation, mental persistence, and living with ambiguity.

Art is Flexible
Art enhances creativity in high academic achievers and stimulates the learning process in children who might otherwise be left behind.


  1. Art is a journal... You can see the emotions of an artist in their creations... Van Gogh seemed to do that in his paintings...Art is cathartic and healing...

  2. Christine, I'm with you on art being incredibly healing. It's been my favorite medicine too :)


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