Why, of course it does! At least, those of us that are artists and art enthusiasts think so. We love art! It sparks us to think, it moves us to feel and gets us talking and sharing, and the momentum is often very exciting. Artists can feel the value in the process of making it, and art lovers appreciate the dimension its existence adds to our lives.
The value and relevance of art is an abstract concept. How do we describe it? Our Executive Director, Joann Vaughan, believes strongly that art builds bridges in communities. I think art has intrinsic value simply because it has no instrumental purpose (usually), and yet it has the power to transform* – sometimes quietly and individually, and other times, loudly and on a societal scale.
But these are just words, and all the beautifully descriptive words in the world can’t convince someone of something they cannot feel. To recognize it, one must feel it.
So how do we inspire others to feel the value of art? In a story.
In the summer of 2013, MFA partnered with Hospice of the Chesapeake to provide artwork for Gallery 90, the dedicated art space in their new administrative facility in Pasadena. It is an impressive and welcoming office building. The artwork is displayed in areas designed to create a harmonious and uplifting work environment for the staff and visitors, including the large open office area, their conference room, and a small landing at the top of the stairs on the second floor.
While attending the April Opening Reception, several of us had the pleasure of talking with Lois Stramella, who works in the Intake Call Center on the second floor. By the very nature of hospice, most callers are experiencing some level of emotion, and the call center staff are special people who dedicate themselves to ensuring comfort, while connecting them with needed resources. It is work that requires an exceptional level of empathy and care, and Lois loves her job.
Lois told us that during one of our exhibits, before opening the door to the Call Center, she would stop and focus quietly on one artwork – a photograph by Kate Stillwell. She would stand there for a few minutes, breathe calmly and center herself. It created a sense of serenity within her, taking her away momentarily, refreshing her and readying her for calls. In a sense, this artwork did its magic by quietly transforming Lois every day.
Be describing her experience and sharing her story, what Lois was telling us — in a very real way — is that art matters. Now that, we can feel.
How would YOU describe the value of art? Why does art matter to you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Do you have a story? A personal experience, a story about how art impacted your child, or someone you know? Share it here! Individual stories help us create our story as a whole. Post it here in a reply; and in addition, we may use a snippet of your story in an upcoming relevant post.
MFA Members: Are you interested in exhibiting at Gallery 90? Contact the Circle Gallery for details, at 410-268-4566, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Concept based on writings by Jeanette Winterson in Art Objects