This is Your Brain on Art
The visual arts build a community of individuals who are stronger, happier, and more equipped to participate in a meaningful way within that community.
DEVELOP, LEARN, SUSTAIN
Regardless of age or ability, art affects the way we learn, develop, and sustain skills over a lifetime. Eric Jensen, a PhD in human development, writes in his book Arts with the Brain in Mind, “The systems [the arts] nourish, including our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning.”
Re-read those systems. Art education nourishes every aspect of your humanity, and in doing so, drives the way we learn (and continue to learn)!
In education, the push towards STEM activities is to promote innovation in the minds of our youth, but the lack of design thinking and creativity is a significant oversight. The pivot to STEAM, adding art to the equation, gives learners a better balance for putting those science, technology, engineering, and mathematics facts to use.
All successful career fields require “flexibility, adaptability, productivity, responsibility, and innovation.” Art, through creative thinking and imagination, enhances these skills and develops a strong base for learning other disciplines. (Sprout)
ART IN EDUCATION
In an image-saturated world, doesn’t it make sense to teach our children visual skills?
“With the arts, children learn to see,” said Eisner, Professor Emeritus of Child Education at Stanford University. “We want our children to have basic skills. But they also will need sophisticated cognition, and they can learn that through the visual arts.” What a profound, eloquent, and concise quote. Truly being able to “see,” means an understanding of things we may not be able to put into words. Observing, envisioning, innovating, and reflecting develop intelligence related to any possible life-path one chooses.
All these are boosted when students are allowed to explore the visual arts! Art is also a perfect way for students to learn the value of diverse perspectives and different cultures.
At Awakening Minds Art, it is our mission to bring the educational benefits of the visual arts to all ages, not just school-aged children. It is important to note, that continued education is vital as we grow. It is also vital that as our physical and mental functions diminish as we age, fun, challenging activities (like art), help to sustain those developmental skills we learned as children.
WONDER AND AWE AFFECT THE BRAIN
Beauty, curiosity, and visual arts often all go hand-in-hand. Professor, Semir Zeki, chair in neurasthenics at University College London, conducted an experiment “to see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings.” He found that “there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.” Brain scans while observing different paintings by well-known artists gave proof to this conclusion. The more beautiful a participant found an artwork to be, the more blood flow increased in a particular part of the brain. “Blood flow increased by as much as 10%, which is the equivalent to gazing at a loved one.”
In other words, thinking about moving motivates us to move—and to keep moving! The use of color, pleasing images, and (in the case of AMA art classes), an encouraging instructor, all inspire a student to move, which in turn, keeps them working, keeps them attentive, and keeps them happy.
Creating and looking at art is beneficial to everyone, no matter your age or ability, but for those who are aging or those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, art affects parts of the brain that most need exercising. Through picture-looking, people can reminisce and reflect on their lives. Creating art, especially with others, enhances:
Read more about how arts affect those with Alzheimer's and dementia here.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING THROUGH THE ARTS
Physically, therapeutic art is a great way to work on developing or sustaining motor skills and core strength. Similar to occupational therapy, therapeutic art can be used to enhance every-day skills. You can find more information on therapeutic art here.
ART REDUCES STRESS
According to Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD in their research publication, “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature” found on the U.S. National Institute of Health’s website, “Engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression and can serve as a vehicle for alleviating the burden of chronic disease.” They also stated, “Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing. The more we understand the relationship between creative expression and healing, the more we will discover the healing power of the arts.”
If you’d like to support Awakening Minds Art and the important therapeutic and educational visual arts programming we offer, please consider a gift to our annual giving fund here
Phillips, Renee. "Art Enhances Brain Function and Well-Being." The Healing Power of Art & Artists, 1 May 2022, https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/art-and-the-brain/. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.
Sprout School Supplies. "STEAM - The Importance of Art in STEM Education." Sprout School Supplies, 28 May 2019, sproutsupplies.com/blog/steam-the-importance-of-art-in-stem-education/. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.
"Learning in a Visual Age:The Critical Importance of Visual Arts Education." National Art Education Association (NAEA), 1 Jan. 2016, https://www.arteducators.org/advocacy-policy/learning-in-a-visual-age. Accessed 19 Jan. 2023.
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