Art: What is it Good For? | Healing joy

Art What Is It Good For


As we write this column, we are in our fourth week of shelter-in-place, and the news headlines are filled with the death toll, the failing economy and the total disarray of life as we knew it. A steady diet of news makes it nearly impossible to ignore what’s wrong in the world and even harder to seek out the good.

That’s why now more than ever, we need art. As Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” In the best of times, art opens our eyes to see the world differently. In the crisis that we are currently experiencing, art gives us hope and kindles the flame of joy. Art brings us together and unleashes our feelings and emotions in positive ways.

In the safety and privacy of your own home, the arts abound. You can tour international art museums and closer to home you can do a virtual museum tour via Peoria Riverfront Museum or a virtual gallery tour at Contemporary Art Center, Peoria Art Guild or Peoria Magazine’s in-office gallery. Experience the Peoria art scene at that features local artists. Join the Virtual Art Club at Peoria Riverfront Museum and check out the virtual ICC Arts Week.

Music has always brought people together, especially in difficult times, and just because we can’t attend a concert doesn’t mean we can’t see local talent. On Facebook, Enjoy Peoria, WWCT 99.9fm, and Peoria Symphony Orchestra bring the pleasure of local music to your couch. You can even make your own kazoo to hum along thanks to instructions by Peoria Symphony Orchestra.

Now is also the time to reawaken your own creativity. People are born creative. It is in our DNA. It causes us to create children, shelters, businesses, movies, you name it. Everything in our lives has been created by people just like you and me. One of the key aspects of practicing creativity is to let go. Turn off the editor in your head that says you are not good enough and let the curiosity and imagination of your childhood come out and play.

Google any subject you are interested in and dive deeper to find a fit for you. Pursue things you have been wondering about. Singing in the shower can turn into singing in your livingroom with online singing lessons. Turn your fidgeting into art by doodling and you join the proud ranks of doodlers—26 out of 45 presidents have been doodlers. There are no mistakes in doodling and there are benefits. Harvard Medical School states that doodling improves focus and relieves stress. Go to YouTube and search for “how to doodle” if you want some tips.

This time of isolation can be the time of rebirth. Rebirth of your inner joy. The attention you give yourself will lead to new awarenesses and understandings. Everything changes with the light we see it in and even if you don’t end up creating art worthy of a museum or a spot on a concert stage, you are giving yourself a gift. As artist Dorthea Tanning said, ‘“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity.” When in doubt, turn to art.

Leunig Doodle

Virtually all of us drew and doodled at one point in our lives. In a stress-filled world, we need to learn to play again, and a blank page is the new playground. (46-YEAR-OLD DOODLE & PHOTO BY DOUG LEUNIG)

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