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Why are arts and culture important to me?


A question posed by Citizen Artist St. Louis.

Art and culture are important to me because they often involve exposure to content or situations I had not considered before. In such moments, I am challenged to revisit my longstanding beliefs and compare them against what is in front of me and ask how this might effect that.

I will never forget being shown René Magritte’s painting, “This is not a pipe”, my freshman year in college.

It was clear to me in that moment the pipe I was looking at was in fact not a pipe but a painting of one. It is just one of endless examples of art and culture causing reflection.

When I have traveled to other parts of my state, country and foreign lands, I have encountered food, traditions and items of import that might not be used or valued the same as where I come from. All of these experiences have permitted me to ask in a larger sense, “is there really such a thing as an absolute truth? Aren’t traditions, values, goals and beliefs just a reflection of our circumstances and influences?”

Arts and culture are have encouraged my curiosity and when I’m lucky, patience. Being quick to categorize and judge is one of, if not the greatest challenge of our time for everyone.

“We somehow seem bored with thinking. We want to instantly know. Knowing is the cessation of thinking.”

Maria Popova

Arts and culture pull us out of our daily lives and challenge the fundamentals we rely on. Having the courage and curiosity to do such a thing is tough but important.

My one ask in return for creators and curators of arts and culture is to more carefully consider who their audience is. As a patron of the arts but also at the same time, a member of the general public, I often find myself standing in front of a formal exhibition without useful context attempting to properly take in the work in front of me. Without the right background, starting point or intelligent questions to ask, it can be easy for me to miss the underlying message. I am in no way asking that art be dumbed down but that we make sure those encountering it, are given what they need to fully process it.

Go Forth Boldly

"'I am certain of nothing'. If I believe anything, it's that. It is my joy and my privilege to travel around the world being wrong about shit.” Anthony Bourdain


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