Visiting artist Arlene Goldbard presented a lecture, “Why South Dakota Needs Artists,” on Monday to the art majors of USD, providing words of encouragement to students who feel unsupported, and reminded them of the importance of art.
But what is art? There is no right answer to this question because art is something different for everyone. Art is a form of expressing oneself; the act of making something visually entertaining; an activity which manifests beauty, an ideal way of doing things; an intense mode of individualism; something that elicits powerful sentiments.
Somewhere along the way, our society has failed us, convincing a large number of us that art is a useless field.
Imagine this. You’re a student at the University of South Dakota, in a world where art doesn’t exist. You walk into a classroom with white brick walls, wooden desks and a whiteboard. Other students file in wearing plain gray shirts and pants, just like you. Your professor walks in minutes later wearing identical clothing and reads aloud from a textbook for the entirety of the 50-minute class period.
If you think this sounds great, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re boring. If you think this sounds absolutely horrible, then you at least see a little bit of the value that art holds.
“Life is meaningless until we create the narrative that gives it shape, until we create the story that says ‘this is where I’ve been, this is who I am, this is where I’m going,’” Goldbard said.
Goldbard also addressed historical conflicts between South Dakota and its indigenous population and said art can be a way to heal.
“Our society is suffering from an extreme deficit of empathy,” she said. “The key to a just and loving society is to cultivate an awareness of our capacity for both harm and healing in every relationship.”
It’s time for us to show support for those involved in the arts, and there exist many ways we can do this in our community.
In May, USD students Reyna Hernandez, Inkpa Mani and Elizabeth Skye will begin painting the second half of an ongoing mural project in downtown Vermillion on the side of the Coyote Twin Theater.
The artists said the goal of the mural is to provide representation to an otherwise underrepresented group. When finished, the mural will pay respects to indigenous women and culture.
During the production of this mural, the artists plan to hold multiple community paint days, in which community members who wish to be a part of the production, can.
This mural and its opportunities for community participation offer us, as students, many ways to become more involved and more supportive of the arts.
Art is not a useless field. If we become more involved in the arts, and we try to see art from different perspectives, it will be easier for everyone to see its value.