Do We Really Need Art?

Do We Really Need Art?

Consider art’s role in your life and how Nickel Plate Arts can feed your need

Food, water, shelter. We need those things. But do we really need art? We would argue with an emphatic “Yes!” not just because we are in the business of running an arts organization, but also because we believe art’s role in the world is much larger than one might think at first glance.

Consider Abraham Maslow’s five-part hierarchy of needs. Building from basic needs to more complex are physiological (warmth, rest), safety (security, family), love/belonging (relationships, friends), esteem (confidence, respect by others) and self-actualization. “Self-actualization” happens when the other needs are being satisfied, and refers to the need to become who you are meant to be.

We asked Norm Eden, Tanya Freedman, Kat Ho, Arlyne Springer and Beth Wood to reflect a little on our assumptions about art to help us answer the question: Do we really need art?

Art is everywhere and motivates/ influences people every day.

img_7579Yes, art is everywhere every day. Mostly commercially linked, of course, and everyone is constantly influenced by what they (frequently subconsciously) find appropriate or inappropriate, or like/dislike because it is what they perceive as good or bad art. — N. Eden

I love that art is making its way into cities in the new movement for city beautification. Many cities across the United States are starting to take an initiative to make cities inviting and warm. One example is Indianapolis. Along the Monon Trail are brightly colored murals that consist of mandalas and positive words about the community such as Harmony, Beauty, Peace, Love. When I pass this mural, it just makes me stop, enjoy, smile and a sense of joy rushes over me. This is just my experience, but I have heard others have similar responses.

Other cities are adding public art such as statues, special gardens and decorated utility boxes. Even drain covers and cracks in sidewalks and roads are being transformed through art. Many times these beautification projects are undertaken to refurbish downtown areas in order to boost tourism or other commerce, but a side effect is that more people are surrounded by different forms of art. — T. Freedman

Art connects us to ideas and each other.

I am a printmaker and have created a series of etchings with the theme of family history. I use keepsakes of family photos, mementos and stories to create an image to honor and reveal the past as well as to comment on our current times. It’s my role as an artist to enter into a dialogue with those who see my prints. People say, “We have old photos like these,” “I have some old postcards and letters. I wonder where they are,” “I remember my grandmother in a long dress,” “Look at the old cars,” “My background is the farm, too,” etc. This is the feedback I desire, knowing that there has been discussion. My work becomes a way for the viewer to connect and interact with not only my personal history and thinking, but also with his own.

The arts bring to us quality of life. We all benefit from the creative expression of the artist, whether through visual art, music, dance, theater or the written word. When viewing/ listening to the artist’s inspirations and opinions, it allows us the opportunity to bring our own narrative thoughts to light. There is a heartfelt generosity that extends from artist to viewer to put his own “signature” on the piece — enjoy, laugh, dream, make a choice, receive a lesson and more. This is what the artist hopes for when exhibiting his work — interaction and discussion. — A. Springer

Group participation is beneficial for developing deeper involvements — mostly. With very limited ability and even more limited experience, I had not considered joining Nickel Plate Arts in the years we have lived here, because it would be for artists and would not include me. That was a mistake. That was a mistake. Now having joined as an artist (tongue-in-cheek) this year, I fit in. — N. Eden

I feel that art undoubtedly connects us to one another in many ways. Art is a way of expressing what we feel, observe and experience as individuals. The beautiful thing about art is that you don’t have to be a professional or an expert to be an artist. Young or old, rich or poor, trained or untrained … we can all be artists in our own ways.

As an architect, I’ve had only basic training in the arts, but much of what I do with design comes from an artistic foundation. As I’m getting ready to open Kaleidoscope Krossing in December, many of the workshops offered will also be founded in art and/or design. I’ve been taught that design is a collaborative process, so much of what we’ll do stems from group discussions, brainstorming and what I’d call “communal creativity.” With an emphasis on collaboration, art will absolutely connect us to one another, to ideas we discuss and to the community of Noblesville as well. — B. Wood

Art can support our self-esteem.

img_7582I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. I have three different examples of how my art has boosted my self-esteem through acceptance, ribbons and sales. I have been a leather crafter for two years and have been invited to participate in a handful of gallery exhibits. Being accepted makes me feel proud of my creations and also validates the quality of them. When I am trying to create for a gallery exhibit, it also stretches me to try a different theme that I would not normally create. It becomes a challenge, but is also very rewarding when created and accepted.

I just recently entered my artwork into a leather guild competition where four of my pieces received ribbon awards, three second-pace ribbons and one third place. This is more than I have ever dreamed that I could achieve, and all the compliments and praise on those pieces have been very rewarding.

Another boost of self-esteem is when other people are excited about my artwork and want to purchase it to be in their homes or wear it as jewelry. I am humbled and honored that someone else loves that piece of artwork as much as I do. It is an honor for me to sell it to someone who will cherish it. — T. Freedman

Yes, agree. However, if people join an arts organization and they have poor or difficult-to-develop abilities, then they are unlikely to receive much praise or have pride in their achievements unless the “community” is understanding and supportive. For someone’s self-esteem to increase, arts communities like those at Nickel Plate Arts must cater to all levels of ability. — N. Eden

The art community deepens one’s sense of self-actualization.

Since becoming a part of the Nickel Plate Arts community, my artist presence has become stronger through each show, demo or opportunity presented. The staff is made up of a group of individuals who have invested so much heart and time into creating a space that allows artists to truly pursue their passions and be noticed for it.

This melting pot of diverse creatives not only provides an opportunity for an artist to showcase their work but also invites the community outside of the arts to come in and be a part of a movement that they otherwise would not have experienced.

By nature, I am free-spirited and independent, much of which is due to being an artist. Being a part of NPArts has refreshed my view on established organizations in the arts community. The community there has faith in the artists they invest in. I have gotten the privilege to meet people far beyond my reach through NPArts’ staff getting to know me and connecting me with individuals who either share similar interests or are eager to promote my cause. NPArts’ investment in me has led to many successful events I’ve been a part of, a rather large spread printed about me in the Indianapolis Star about an art-related endeavor, and the incredible honor of being awarded NPArts’ 2016 Emerging Artist of the Year.

Someone as free-spirited as me needs connections, direction and an established arts organization to be challenged as an artist to relentlessly pursue my career choice. Being a part of an established and thriving artist community does not diminish my presence as an artist and it has not stifled my independence. Rather, it has built my confidence by creating a place where I am encouraged to be myself because that’s what people come to see and be a part of.

I do not create with the motivation of profit. I create as a response to personal revelations found in the natural world: adventure, beautifully unrefined phenomenon, and undeniably the most “real” treasure on this earth. Similarly, NPArts has supported me as an individual along with my work, not for the sake of revenue, but for the sake of representing something raw, something real. — K. Ho

Yes – agreed. Even including a slightly cynical, older, retired, laid-back person. — N. Eden

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Watercolorist Norm Eden began painting in 2014 after joining a group at the Florida campground where he winters. He is also a student in our Monday Night Drawing Class.

Tanya Freedman is a leather carver who creates 2-D wall hangings as well as leather jewelry. She has submitted her artwork to shows at Nickel Plate Arts.

Kat Ho was named Nickel Plate Arts’ 2016 Emerging Artist of the Year. Her art focus is printmaking ( woodcut and soft-sculptures) that is nature-centric, and regularly immerses herself in nature to feel more connected and gain inspiration for upcoming projects.

Printmaker Arlyne Springer is a Hoosier Salon artist with deep family roots in Indiana, a history reflected in her art.

Beth Wood is the owner of Kaleidoscope Krossing, just south of Nickel Plate Arts on South Eighth Street. Wood doesn’t consider herself an artist, but rather an architect who appreciates and celebrates art and design.

Casey Kenley
casey@caseykenley.com