A Community without Art is a Community without Heart
–Rebecca Weinbar

“So many times art is looked upon as a luxury and rarely recognized for its influences in all areas of life/society. In many indigenous cultures there were no words for art, yet there were multitudes of activities that provided interwoven services to their communities, from building shelters to creating songs to herald their accomplishments. Art has always been and should always be an important part of the development of a community.” -Ta-coumba T. Aiken, People, Places, Connections Curator at Intermedia Arts

The age-old question remains: does art influence culture, or does culture influence art? Whatever you believe, it’s apparent that it’s an interdependent relationship: neither has existed without the other. As such, art – from music to theater to painting to poetry – allows us to closely examine our culture, our community and ourselves. It gives people a chance to speak their mind, to express their innermost thoughts. Even if these artworks never leave the artist’s private space, the process of creating art has brought the artist closer to the world and to themselves. If the artworks are shared with the world, there arises the potential for the artist to communicate with the world, through the language of art. Art can share the artist’s personal experiences, demonstrating the universality of our experiences and showing other people that they aren’t alone. Art can make political statements, making people think about something in a new way and perhaps influencing social change.

We are all artists – we don’t have to be “good” to be artists, we just have to be people who enjoy singing, dancing, performing, creating. We all create art (even if we aren’t aware that we do so) in our daily lives: We converse with a close friend, and there is poetry; we decorate and arrange our living spaces, and there is an expression of ourselves and our culture; we walk down the street, gesture with our hands as we speak, jump up and down with joy, and there is dance. We lift our voices in song together when we sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend, at our place of worship, or at a music concert; by making one sound together with many voices, we feel a connectedness.

What art do you make? What art does your community have to share with you? How can you join your community in expressing its heart?

Editors: Rebecca Weinbar & Liz Hutter