Sara is a high school junior from Longmont, CO and an intern with Cultures of Dignity. Below are her thoughts on the importance of art during quarantine.
Prioritizing Art During a Global Pandemic
By Sara Davis
Art has always been our way of coping and understanding the pain, sorrow, and joy that life brings. Art is uniquely human experience. It’s what separates us from the other animals we share our planet with. And now, in a time where the daily routines of millions of people have been turned on their head and we are eager to be distracted from an unfamiliar world, art is again where we seek refuge from the chaos.
The most important thing that an artist can do is to captivate their audience’s attention. Today, art may not come in the form we hoped, since many theaters, museums, concert halls, and exhibits had to be either canceled, postponed, or shut down. But since we live in a brilliant age of technology, we’ve found a few solutions. Musicians are performing concerts from their homes, and stand up comedians are using social media to make sure their followers don’t forget to laugh a little in the midst of everything they have to face. You can stream your favorite classical music from the Berlin Orchestra, or discover stunning shows from the Metropolitan Opera. If you’ve seen the Tony awards and you’re wondering what the fuss is all about, watch one new Broadway musical a week on Youtube.
For me and my peers, art has become a source of comfort. My friends and I have done everything from painting, to embroidery, to singing and playing instruments, to making jewelry boxes and flower crowns, and having dance parties alone in our rooms. Even though my high school play got canceled, I still learned all of my lines, and I’ve been making bracelets for my family. I know people who have shaved their heads, learned very elaborate TikTok dances, or pierced their ears and given themselves stick and poke tattoos. All of these actions seem like nothing more than the crazy, rash decisions of teenagers during a pandemic.
But art is important, never more so in a time like this when a person’s mental health is in danger. As Cultures of Dignity works so hard to demonstrate, the actions of young people are often more than meets the eye. People finally have the freedom to use art and creativity to do all of the things they’ve ever thought about doing. Whether you’ve always wanted to learn to bake like the people on Pinterest, or just made a spur of the moment decision to turn all of your old jeans into shorts, the social pressure is gone. There is no need to worry about judgement from the people around you. Because in quarantine, you can keep all of that to yourself if you want to.
It took being cooped up at home for people to really feel like they were free. That seems like a contradictory idea, I know. But when people have the time to make or experience art, they have the time to truly be themselves. When you are in a safe space, it doesn’t matter if you fail. You can try something over and over and over. You can leave a project alone for a while, and come back to it later. So what if your knitting experiment didn’t work out? Why not get bangs? Or watch that movie on Netflix that seems a little strange? Or buy a painting from a local artist on Instagram? Who cares if you picked up an old instrument and sounded terrible? You are perfectly free to try anything you want. Nobody but you has to know. Creative expression is no longer just what everyone around you wants to see, but however you want to present yourself.
It took being cooped up at home for people to really feel like they were free.
The most beautiful thing about staying at home, is that failure, trial and error are no longer anything to be feared. People right now are taking an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with creative passions they may have lost in the day to day course of their lives before the coronavirus pandemic. Nobody has to worry about being judged for dancing alone, trying to bake a seven layer cake, or reading a silly book. There’s no need to hide away your knitting supplies, or the draft of that story you’ve been wanting to write. Give yourself the experience of seeing and creating as much art as you possibly can, because art creates hope and the ability to keep going.
Art, as we now see, is fundamental to the human condition. We need it not only to feel like ourselves, but also to preserve our own mental health and sanity. Art as a priority can get lost during the normal hustle and bustle of life. Hopefully during this time, everyone gets a chance to feel what forms of art mean the most to them. To be yourself, all you need is art and a little bit of time.
If you have any questions or comments for Sara, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org