Why is art important? People do ask that question. Why is art a thing you should devote your time and your life to? It doesn’t do anything, after all. It isn’t about anything real. It isn’t as useful as science, is it? Well, art is at least as ubiquitous as science. Sure, we all use science when we walk, throw a ball or use a computer, but we see art every time we watch something on a screen, listen to spotify or look at somebody’s photos on facebook (well, nobody said it had to be good art). Even in the days before all this modern media, we were telling stories and painting pictures on rocks. Art is a quintessential part of humanity.
And art matters. Science deals with what exists outside of our heads. Art deals with the things that exist inside of our heads – our values, our beliefs, our perceptions. The way we order and structure the world, the way we see ourselves and other people. Art is like a mirror we are holding up to life, except that it is a really distorted one. It doesn’t really reflect the world as it is but the world as we see it. That’s not the strange thing. The strange thing is that art is a mirror that has a real effect on what it is reflecting. Inventors get their ideas from science fiction novels. People’s emotions get affected by the music they listen to, and their emotions affect how they act. Art is more than just entertainment.
Art is at its heart, communication. It is the transfer of an idea from somebody’s mind, through the medium of their choice, to the minds of other people. Art exists for the people who can’t quite put their idea into words or numbers, so they use pictures or sound, or they tell a story. Art exists so we can get to the ideas of people who are long dead, or really far away. Art is perception and communication and emotion and life. Imagine a world without art. I dare you. A world where nobody tells a story unless it actually happened. Where nobody sings or draws or dances. Imagine a world where nobody dreams. And then you can tell me whether or not art is useless.