There’s so much more to art than just its construction or final visualization. It has a voice and, if we listen, it can speak to our very souls. A few months ago, our Sixth Dimension members went on our first monthly enrichment activity to visit an art museum. It was an incredible experience to appreciate art together, and everyone felt uplifted as we left. I got to thinking, “Why is that? What happened to everyone at the museum?” It turns out that art appreciation is psychologically proven to enhance emotions. When we view art, we can experience a deeper connection to our emotions and our inner thoughts.
Art therapy is practiced by many mental health professionals, and can help individuals in a variety of situations. Whether you are creating the art yourself or appreciating someone else’s, art can stimulate catharsis and can improve your mood (1). The visual nature of art connects to our minds in a different way than words can. We don’t need a degree in Art History, we don’t even need to be able to read in order to appreciate Monet’s Water Lilies, or Michelangelo’s David. Art becomes something we instinctively feel, whether we are thinking about it or not.
The movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s took full advantage of the feeling of art. These artists, such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, focused not on capturing a certain image, message or idea, but instead on capturing movement, feeling, and emotion. The point of their art became not to communicate a moral message, not to depict a beautiful scene, and often not even to depict a particular emotion. Instead, they focused on connecting to the individual, to the inner beauty of the moment. As a result, their art allows the viewer to experience the emotion and movement and visual nature of the piece for themselves, however they choose to interpret it.
Whatever your artistic taste, make sure to go out and find some art to appreciate today! Whether you visit a museum, create a work of art for yourself, or simply pay attention to the art that has been hung on the walls at your workplace, take time to allow your brain to process the visual stimulation of art, and experience the catharsis of connecting with your inner-self through it.
(1): De Petrillo, Lili, and Ellen Winner. “Does Art Improve Mood? A Test of a Key Assumption Underlying Art Therapy.” Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, no. 4, 2005, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2005.10129521.