What Happened to Art Education in Schools?

Posted February 12 2013

 It's unfortunate that art is one of the first programs eliminated in school budget cuts, but it's little wonder. Taxpayers often view art class as little more than directed play or history lessons with pictures and not worthy of funding. For me, learning art means learning to see. The opportunity to learn about art is a quality-of-life issue.
As the daughter of an artist, I received a few lessons on seeing early in life. Recognizing reflected light and color, beautiful grays, lost edges, atmospheric perspective, or the color shift in cast shadows added to my awareness of my surroundings. Seeing this way makes it possible for me to enjoy the present moment more often and fully appreciate life. I can only imagine that people who focus on patterns or abstract shapes see those things more often out in the world and that the experience boosts their quality of life.
I walk with a friend every morning for exercise. As the seasons change, we walk in the pitch dark, sunrise, and full sun. It's on those walks that I realize how my art background helps me see differently. At first, my walking partner used to think I was nuts going on about the purple in the tree trunks. But over time, she too learned to see more, and now she's hooked.
Seeing as an artist helps me avoid being bored, enjoy the present, and find interest and beauty. In this video game world, I think it's more important than ever for those of us who have found value in the visual arts to sing their praises, if for no other reason than to give our next generation something to do when the power goes out.
What do you think is the value of art?

Cheers, Lynn