The arts are more than what we see

Published 9:02 pm Thursday, August 4, 2011

It’s very difficult for me as an artist to understand a lack of support for the arts. Since childhood, I’ve always strived to be someone who creates. And to have the support of others on my quest to create is nothing short of priceless.

But sometimes I think the lack of support for the arts is more a sign of the times rather than a lack of interest. We’ve all become sort of single-minded in our definition of the arts. Everyone thinks of a painting or a sculpture as a work of art, but what about a fuel-efficient car or an ergonomic chair? It seems that creativity cultivated in the arts does not translate for most into the everyday items that shape our lives.

I wanted to be an architect before I entered college and discovered graphic design. And when I stumbled my way into Green Hall, the fine arts building at what was then Chowan College, I wasn’t really sure what graphic design entailed. Through my studies over those four years, however, my eyes were opened to why art means more to our everyday lives than people imagine.

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What would the world be like without so many of the things we see everyday? Would it be worth living if there were no comfortable chairs, airplanes, microwave ovens? Would our days be as comfortable without air conditioning, light bulbs or even staplers? Moreover, would the world we see be worth remembering if there were no movies, billboards or Golden Arches? And what all these items — and pretty much every other item around us all — have in common is that someone with art in their heart and a need to advance life further had to sit down, conceive of it, and make it happen. That’s a function of the arts if there ever was one.

So supporting the arts is not just supporting an aspect of life that you feel doesn’t matter to you or people simply don’t have time for anymore. Supporting the arts is supporting the richest resource human beings will ever have — vision. Artists see things that aren’t there and deliver them to our reality. And since vision is not something one can just produce out of thin air, it should be cultivated in every crop of artists there is.

Those of you arts-minded Suffolkians who attended the recent meeting to develop more community support for the arts should be commended. I applaud the statements of Bob Stephens, Joleen Neighbours, and the outgoing director of the SCCA, Paul Lasakow. I also encourage those who want to do more to cultivate the vision of artists in the community to attend the next meeting.

Supporting the arts is an investment in ourselves and advancing our quality of life on this Earth. And that is something we can never give up on.

For more information on an upcoming meeting of the group working to create more support for the arts, email