Mrs Anita Choudhrie, Founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation, gives us 5 reasons to try art at least once.
Growing up in India, I was exposed to a spectrum of different cultures which have lived in me, influencing my life and work. I have always believed that art should be used to challenge assumptions, prompt questions and facilitate discussions. With this in mind, here are 5 reasons to try art just once.
Art can rebalance us as a positive force for mental health
When suffering from ill health, whether mental or physical, art provides a form of escapism and sustenance for the soul. As a creative outlet, it offers a powerful distraction that can help provide clarity and answers. There is also an incredible amount of emotion in art, which can force us to see new perspectives and enable us to share feelings we hold that words alone cannot do justice to.
Art helps to widen the cultural gaze
Art offers unique access to other parts of the world and their cultures, opening up our minds to what there is beyond our own reality. In doing so, it can challenge assumptions, encourage reflection and drive change. My own International Art Foundation, Stellar, for instance, features work from a vast array of individuals with diverse understandings of the world. Founded in 2008, the collection brings to light the inequalities embedded within the art world, celebrating artistic diversity and widening the ‘cultural gaze’.
Art can break the gender gap
Within the current political landscape, women must realise their potential and their identities within their work and beyond. We’ve seen the recent revelations of the #MeToo campaign, bringing to light feminist issues that have been underlying for far too long and now we must unite and break down these barriers of inequality in every aspect of life. Championing female empowerment within the arts can help to bring us a step closer to embracing gender equality across the board. These issues need to be addressed in all industries, but art can and should lead the way.
Art gives you a voice and can inspire change
As a repository of a society’s collective memories, it plays a significant role in the self-identification of a community and an individual. It is also a force for change. Expressionism for example, emerged in response to growing anxiety about humanity's increasingly discordant relationship with the world and the accompanying feelings of loss of authenticity and spirituality. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is exemplary of art provoking conversation and making a political statement, with its message of protestation, regarded by critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. In this sense, art instils courage of expression to those who create, as well as those who observe and appreciate.
Art can rouse our curiosity
With a tangible quality to inspire us, art rouses our sentiments and passions through the simple play of colour on canvas or the contours of a structure. Whether we observe a work of art in a gallery or create our own, a story is being told and our natural curiosity leads us to consider the meaning behind the work. The curiosity and wonder in art can inspire a deep passion, as we ponder the artist’s intentions and meditate on what we see in a piece, allowing our imaginations to run free and the story to develop in our own subjective reality. Monet’s Water Lilies, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, van Gogh’s Starry Night and Munch’s The Scream are just a handful of paintings which have inspired millions across the world and whose stories and messages are etched onto the canvas of time.
Anita Choudhrie is the founder of The Stellar International Art Foundation. Currently the Foundation comprises over 600 works dating from the late 19th century to the present day, including international artists, and ranging from paintings to sculptures.
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