Why Art is a Graduation Requirement
This is a short essay I wrote to my art teacher about why art is important to me and why it is a graduation requirement in high school. I was a senior when I wrote this.
Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination or to some as their first period class. Seeing as how this is a personal “why do you think” type of prompt I’ll avoid the fluff and generic nonsense and give my perspective on it.
When I was younger I studied martial arts under the TKA organization. I went to class every Monday and Thursday and learned tae kwon do forms, Japanese ju-jitsu, and how to spar among other things. Now when I think about the long run, how does any of this really help me? I mean seriously other than the self-defense side did I really get anything out of it? Well I didn’t realize at the time but I did get one of the most important things I know out of my martial arts class.
It was a regular day practicing forms and we were in the gym of a local elementary school and our instructor told us that he would be observing us individually. I practiced on my own and when it was time I performed for him individually. I was worried if my timing was off or my punches were straight or a hundred other things. When I was done and bowed, he came up to me and told me that I had performed perfectly except for one thing. I was worried again and wondered what I messed up. And he said do the first few steps of the form. I did and he said there it is. Where are you looking? I apparently was looking downward all of the time. And this is where I first learned about confidence. He told me “Keep your chin up. Fix your posture. You are doing perfectly so show me.”
Now back to art. Same story different moral. A new kind of martial artist instructor tells me I’m doing fine and I’m worried and you say “Sashank you can make the bowl anyway you like.” Art is about choice. Its about creativity. In a funny way I forgot about what it feels like to do what I want. It’s an interesting feeling taking Art 1 as a senior because it fits so well with senioritis and the feeling of being free (almost). I had almost forgotten the other aspects of my life other than the endless drone of math, science, math, science, math, science. I mean I love it I really do but stepping away from your passion is really another way to fall in love with it again right? So for me art was a little about doing something different. Different from school. Different from my main interests.
One of the movies I watched a while ago was the Monuments Men which is about a special group of soldiers tasked with recovering stolen artwork in Europe during WWII. What I got out of this movie was this: Science protects what art preserves. My role and my passions only exist because of humanity. In the movie it was asked “why fight this war and lose everything it means to be human” all the culture and history that was lost truly strips us of who we are. There has to be a reason to fight and that is to protect our way of life against people or things that threaten it. This was the premise of having these men go to save artwork that would’ve been burned. The reason for technology and math and science is to serve humanity. Engineering is the divine hubris that says “No I refuse to accept that this is the way things are and I will do better.” When obstacles violate humanity’s sanctity, the STEM fields will seek to fix it. When distance and travel is difficult technology allows me see and talk to my grandparents and family in India through Skype. When a dancer lost her leg in the Boston Marathon Bombing technology says f- that and through advanced prosthetics she is able to return to the stage. When a child is born deaf, stem cell therapy allows a child to hear her parents for the first time in her life. Family, relationships, and passion, all of these things are preserved in art. The very nature of being human with our glories and our sins captured and preserved in timeless art. Our emotions, anger, fear, love, and even the lack of emotions with melancholy scenes can be depicted in art. The human condition can be captured in every note of a chord, every stroke of a brush, every chip of marble, every line of a play, every word of a book, every graceful leap of a dancer. People make fun of artists for not making enough money or being crazy people engrossed in their work, but to me art is just as important for our existence. To remember who we are is the foundation of going forward. The values we hold dear are the very engines of technology. Science protects what art preserves.
This is what makes art a mandatory graduation requirement for me personally. It’s been a pretty cool year Mr. Titford. I’ve had a good time learning techniques for stuff I didn’t know how to do before. Art is a different side of me that I haven’t really gotten into in a while so it was nice getting back to it in senior year. I appreciate what you’ve done to get us interested and motivated for each project, and putting up with us as the Art 1 class for first period.
Sashank Sadula, 2015