Art, it seems like such a trivial pursuit. In 21st century America, art seems to be the bane of the working classes existence. What does art do? How does art serve any kind of purpose? Art doesn’t get things done. Art doesn’t file paperwork, close deals, or engineer new systems. Yet, art persists and in fact it seems to insist on remaining alive. Not only is art alive, it is thriving in America. Despite this newly found love of art, there is a great war that is being waged against art in schools and politics. The NEA, or National Endowment for the Arts, is threatened by the current political regime. It is labeled as irrelevant to current political situations and the problems that working class Americans currently face.
But, how truly irrelevant is art? As a student at a university in California that is known mainly for its outstanding research in the fields of engineering, science, and agriculture, art would seem to be the low man on the totem pole, and as far as funding for the university goes, it very much is the lowest of the low on the deans and administrations radar. In fact, it is a great struggle for the arts and humanities to even get the necessary funding to survive. Yet, art is incredibly important to the reputation and face of the university. In fact, much of the time I hear about how scientist at the university are very interested in incorporating art and art principles into their research.
So why do we hold fields such as engineering, computer science, and science in such high esteem and art as the endeavor of children or adults with too much time on their hands (aka people who don’t have jobs and are thus useless in society)? It is my opinion that there does not need to be a dichotomy between art and science. Art is just as important as science, and there are a few key reasons why I feel this way.
Art is a great emotional outlet. Many of my peers who are pursuing degrees in the field of science and engineering are also wonderful artists. Many students pursue double degrees in the arts and humanities along with their science degrees. This is because art allows for self-expression and the release of emotional stress. I hear all too often from my peers how stressed they are from hours spent studying and preparing for exams. What I like to tell them is that while it is incredibly important to focus on studying material, it is also important to take time out for yourself. You don’t have to make incredible art to allow yourself to be free from the stress of studying and preparing. While there is varying degrees of art that can be described as hobby to professional, unless you are pursuing an art major, you don’t need to worry about being judged. Your art is your art, and it is your expression of yourself. Your art belongs to you, and what is most important is that you are relieving your mind.
Art allows for self-expression. Pursuing degrees in engineering, science, agriculture, veterinary medicine, and so on are incredibly important. There is a reason these fields earn so much more than artist. However, art can have just as much of an impact on society as a vaccine or a new form of renewable energy. There is a reason art is controversial at times. Art allows for critical thinking. Art allows for criticism of the artist and society, which creates dialogue and moves societies forward. So what does critical thinking and constructive criticism have to do with self-expression? It allows for the artist to develop their style or to pursue new techniques and maybe even new mediums. This is also important when dealing with constructive criticism in the sciences. Scientific articles and research are peer reviewed, so a scientist must learn how to deal with criticism in a healthy way. There is nothing like putting yourself out there and having constructive feedback like how you get in the art world. Not all feedback will be positive, but it is always constructive if you have that kind of a positive mentality.
In the end, whether a scientist or engineer chooses to try to pursue art on the hobby level, it is an important aspect of remaining mentally healthy. When pursuing tough scientific material or engineering a cloud system, it is important to remember to take some time out occasionally to enjoy life and make some art.