Art is a human activity that involves expressing ideas and feelings through the use of visual means such as paint, drawing or sculpture. Art is also considered a form of cultural expression and provides insight into the beliefs, activities, values and worldviews of an era. Artists strive to leave behind lasting impact, ensuring their creations resonate and endure. Art can be a way to convey emotions and experiences from one generation to the next, making it an important tool for learning about diverse cultures and lifestyles.
The very act of creating art can be a therapeutic process. Some studies show that engaging with artwork releases oxytocin, the “love hormone” known to promote bonding, approach-to-the-other and trust. It is possible that oxytocin triggers an emotional response in the brain of the viewer, making them want to engage with the piece even more. This might explain why certain pieces of art are so captivating and why they have the power to inspire us.
As humans, we are wired to perceive beauty in art. Art can evoke positive or negative emotions such as joy, sadness, fear or anger. It can even cause a sense of awe, which is why many people consider the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower to be beautiful. But what exactly is it about a piece of art that makes it beautiful?
What defines something as art is a matter of opinion. Historians and philosophers attempt to answer this question by analyzing the way a society understands itself through artistic artifacts. They argue that art reflects the social and cultural aspects of a culture in the same way that science does.
But defining art is a complex task because culture is an organic phenomenon, meaning it changes and evolves over time. For instance, during the era of Romanticism, art became defined by originality. The search for uniqueness led to a variety of new movements, such as Cubism and Futurism.
As a result, the definition of art is constantly changing and shifting. Today, we often see a wide gap between those who think that only traditional forms of art are worthy of the title and those who are looking for more contemporary and avant-garde pieces.
A more sophisticated approach to understanding art is the idea that it is a tool used for communication and can only be understood by examining the context in which it was created. This is similar to how animals advertise their fitness qualities for mates through displays such as a peacock’s tail or a tiger’s stripes. These exhibits signal to potential mates the intelligence, cognition, physical strength and other characteristics that contribute to their survival.
Teachers can incorporate art into their curriculum in many ways. They can have students create their own works of art or they can look at historical pieces and learn about the artists that produced them. One resource, Art History Made Fun for Elementary Students, has lessons that showcase a variety of time periods, from Cave painting to Van Gogh.