Art Changes People

Carved African Faces. One of my cherished Christmas Gifts

Carved African Faces. One of my cherished Christmas Gifts

“The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed – because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events … by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.” ~ Leonard Bernstein

Last week I wrote that my resolution for 2016 was to be one light that helps dispel darkness by embodying love, empathy and peace as much as I possibly can. And one of the ways I do that is through my creative endeavors.

I don’t write much about the fact that I teach theatre classes at our local community college. It’s only part-time after all, because as Leonard Bernstein pointed out, the arts don’t get people jobs. It’s the artists struggle to get paid for the work they create. Some garner recognition, but most struggle along working to pay the bills while doing their artwork on the side. I’ve been caught up in those same struggles, but the point of this post is to share my thoughts about why it’s important to be creative.

I teach theatre because I love to see the light in my students eyes when they’ve taken my class because they need an art credit to complete their degree, then they receive compliments on their acting. Or the light of understanding dawn when they connect with the multi-layers of meaning in a play or movie. I love helping them discover things about themselves that they would never have experienced if they hadn’t taken one of my classes.

This past semester, I taught a class called theatre workshop. It’s a performance class where students get a chance to produce and perform in a play. This time, however, we performed five short student written plays. It all came about because somehow, miraculously, a few of my acting students began to write their own scenes. One thing lead to another and I thought of offering this class. I’m so glad I did because it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

The plays were fantastic and the audiences liked them so much that I decided to offer the class again this coming semester. I have students who had written plays that we didn’t get to perform the first time around. Getting recognition for something you’ve created is life changing. I want my students to know what that rush feels like. I want them to become empowered by the process of creating so that they will continue to produce art long after they’ve finished their school work.

If you’ve never taken an art class, this might be the year to stretch your creative horizons. The camaraderie that develops among the artists is one of the fantastic side effects, but you might also find a new passion that will enrich your life and make it happier and more worth living.

Here’s one final quote to end this post and this year. “We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” ~ John Lennon.

Creating artwork is one way to nurture ourselves and others, to spread love and compassion, both internally and externally. We humans are imbued with creativity and like plants we wither and die if we are unable to use our talents. I hope you find new ones to share with the world this coming year.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed 2016. Feel free to leave a comment, or share this post with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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