Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

3 Reasons to Take an Art Appreciation Course

Sometimes beginning college students looking to fill a requirement for their Liberal Arts program will settle on Arts Appreciation, something that sounds like a simple, lightweight course that can provide a respite from more heavy duty classes, like Math or Science. But when a student does manage to stay awake during this kind of class and commit even a modest level of attention to it, a course on art appreciation can truly provide worthwhile benefits.

For some lifelong art lovers, their first real exposure to the arts were through these types of courses, report many fine art experts. Courses aren’t limited to university students, but many community colleges offer recurring non-credit courses for other members of the community looking to expand their knowledge.

Chalk art at Disney's Festival of the Masters photo Brandon Jones

Chalk art at Disney’s Festival of the Masters photo Brandon Jones

Art Reflecting Culture

When you look closely at any country, one of the best indicators of the overall health of its culture is the state of its fine arts program. This is because the program is being appreciated and supported by enough people who understand its value to society and by extension, to the country. The mysterious, undefined language of art speaks in the subtlest ways to those who have the patience to listen, and it has the ability to reach within all of us and connect us, in terms of how our thoughts and feelings relate to the world around us. Because art can plumb the depths of our souls, it helps us to understand who we are and gives us a means of self-expression that manifests our inter-connectedness. That connection is our common culture.

Well-Rounded Education

It is well known that a strong connection exists between the arts, culture and educational achievement. Young people typically become more literate, attentive students after having taken part in dramatic productions, and music students commonly perform better in Math and Science after engaging in regular and sustained musical activity.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the arts and humanities provide young students with the tools they need to learn the lessons of the past, to re-examine and question everything about the present, and to develop the capacity to imagine new possibilities for the future. The creative nature of the arts expands the mind beyond the borders of what has already gone before and already been accomplished, into the realm of what may never have been done but may be possible.

Benefits of Art Appreciation

There are more benefits to be derived from art appreciation than an enjoyment of beauty, although that alone should not be dismissed as insignificant. The power of art to impart healing to those unwell in mind or body is only now being more fully understood and coming into broader usage. Self-expression through art has a therapeutic effect on those who engage in it. As it offers stress relief and a soothing sense of well-being.

Scientists have studied brain activity during sessions of art appreciation, and according to an article by Ann Lukits in the Wall Street Journal, discovered that the brain is stimulated in the same way that it is when a person feels love and affection toward another person. The production of a feel-good neurotransmitter called dopamine is increased during art appreciation, and this substance stimulates the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. In turn, this has a wonderful effect on a person’s quality of life, with results suggesting that this kind of regular stimulation can cause a permanent change in the brain, and thus in the life of a fan of the arts.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

Jan Havicksz. Steen:"The Prayer Before Meals" paintedin 1660 photo/public domain

Jan Havicksz. Steen:”The Prayer Before Meals” paintedin 1660 photo/public domain

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