Every day I feel like I can hear the same monotonous voices in my head who tell me that art is not useful. They tell me that art is an addition to life, the icing on the cake, and the cherry on top of everything that actually keeps my life running. Art is a nice thought, but I should be spending my time on things that really matter. Forget my novel; I should be working on a cure for cancer: that would be a much better use of my brief life on earth.
But these voices could not be more wrong. For most people, art thrives in a quiet but busy way in all the small corners of the day. The more I think about it, the more art I can find in my daily routine. Someone wrote the fun but slightly irritating tune that Apple chose to wake me up every morning. Someone designed the iPhone I use to call my mother who lives in a different state. Someone made the shirt that I pull over my head. Someone crafted the necklace I clasp around my neck. Someone sang the song I listen to on my way to class. Already I’m surrounded by art, and it’s not even ten o’clock yet. Artists have created so many moments of my day, so many things that I could not live without. And for some reason, we seem to presume that art is a given in a world that wants to take it away.
This is not to mention the home that art provides for those who are suffering. Sure, art doesn’t cure cancer. But it can help calm down the loved ones in the waiting room or the student walking to their exam hall or reach out to the teenager who feels like they are alone in the world. Art may not mend a broken leg, but it can fix a broken heart. It can pick you back up off the floor when nothing else can. There has got to be some use in that.
Now that my eyes are open, every day is filled with crazy contradictions. People laugh at my Arts degree and then ask if I watch Game of Thrones. People ask how my writing ‘hobby’ is going, and then gasp when I say I haven’t read Hamlet. People ask why it takes so long to edit a photo, then flick through fifty filters to choose the perfect Instagram look that matches their aesthetic. Perhaps art is something that other people do, while I am expected to get a regular 9-5 and leave my art-making to school classes and fun side projects.
Art makes the world go round when nothing else can. I encourage you to look for the quiet art that whirs away in your life and try to imagine the world without it. For me, it would be impossible.