Why do we exist? Does life have a purpose, and what about the purpose of creation? These are questions philosophers have struggled throughout their life and questions from which other mysteries of existence stem from. Artists are also creators, as books, paintings, songs, graphic novels, video games, and movies are all worlds or universes in their own right. And, a true artist struggles with these questions as well. Whether they are creating something beautiful, thought-provoking, exhilarating, funny, or exposing corruption, they asked themselves how their work can benefit humanity.
A question of why art and literature are important in the modern world needs to be tackled more frequently throughout education. It is something that we should answer on a personal level but ask ourselves over and over, to see if our answer has evolved. It should be asked at the start of every year during elementary and high-school, and continue throughout college. So, here are a few answers to this question, from me.
A piece of art that resonates with you is absorbing, but a truly good art will lead you down the road of self-discovery. It makes you wrestle with hard questions and morally ambiguous dilemmas and makes you realize that truly important decisions are never easy to make. While we are young we chase our happy endings like the ones we see in the movies, but as we grow up we realize that closure is ever elusive. New days bring new questions, new worries, new joys, new problems, and new responsibilities. Art can give us hope, inspire us, and motivate us to continue our journey, but also discover parts of ourselves we have not encountered yet.
Art as a Mirror
Art also serves as a mirror to political or existential truth and can expose things from a perspective we have never seen before. However, experiencing art is very subjective, so we will always decipher what we see based on our own knowledge and experiences. This is why certain artworks are worth re-watching, re-hearing or re-living, as we have different tools to understand them. I believe that everyone should have a book or a movie that left them wondering for days, and watch it or read it once a year, to see how they feel about it every time they re-experience it.
Expanding your Horizons
Each piece of art is influenced by the time, place, and culture of its author. Through art, we learn about history, different cultural values, and the central struggles of the particular era. This helps us learn how to empathize and respect other points of view and motivations. We live in a world where we spend most of the time online, and our interests and ideas influence what we see online. Social networks, youtube, streaming services all offer and market content tailored to our interests. This creates a certain bubble and bends our perspective in one direction.
Art is here to remind us of other points of view, and that even if we disagree with someone, discussion and discourse is what is truly important.