Art for a Better Future

Artists should be valued higher by our society.

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It may not seem like an artist works hard.

Every time the average person sees a piece of art, they see a collection of elegant, perfect strokes that may come off as relaxed, even effortless. And, of course, why shouldn't they? This is by the artist's design; nobody respects a sketch, or a work in progress. However, seeing things like this can lead to the viewer placing little value on the labor of the artist. After all...
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...we only see the finished product.

Art takes a lot of commitment, trial, and error - especially if you can't erase your mistakes. Every finished product by an artist represents at least an hour of work as they try to communicate their vision perfectly through their respective media.
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Art reaches everyone, whether it be traditional...

Art in its strictly traditional sense is already highly influential. The innate intrigue of that "Mona Lisa"'s mystic smile has captivated some people so thoroughly, that they have written songs and novels in her honor; and there is probably not a person over 13 alive today not familiar with the hallucinogenic turmoil present in Van Gogh's "Starry Night."
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However, art is more than just paint on a canvas. Really, anything unnatural that a person produces for the consumption and enjoyment of others can be classified as art. When defined in this way, it is indeed very hard to find anyone who does not enjoy art in some form. Books and novels constitute, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most widely-consumed forms of art - literature.
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If any form of art is more widely accessible and enjoyable than literature, it's music. Whether to soothe a restless mind, to bring joy or reassurance to a time of misery, or to vicariously relieve one's anger, music holds an emotional influence over every individual with the capacity to hear it.
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...or otherwise.

The concept of art spans much further than that! Art can be screenplay, photography, dance, theater, performance, interactive, culinary, and other things, too! If a teacher employs creative ways to engage and educate their class, that is art. If an experienced cook explores creative substitutes for commonly-accepted ingredients, the result is art. If a game designer makes an attempt to elicit more emotions than just enjoyment, that, too, is art. Even the work of Sigmund Freud, the concept of the MBTI personality test, and astrology as a whole are artistic expressions; they're creative, man-made analyses of the way humans function, and conscientious attempts to explain the reasoning behind human action.
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Without art, there would be no change.

Art is, by nature, expressive of one's inner opinions. It is also one of the most influential forms of media, because it plays heavily on people's emotions, and is still often considered an apolitical medium. Really, art is almost intrinsically political due to the opinionated nature of the medium. Because of this, art can change entire political environments.
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However, our current culture devalues art.

Art is viewed as selfish and attention-seeking, as unproductive and lazy in a society built around production and work. But, as we've seen, art is productive, and requires hard work; and while art may be a way to seek attention, it's extremely cynical of one to believe that humans should lose their innate need for attention and validation in order to become mature. However, this prevalent ideology puts many artists on the street, making meager earnings off of their performances, and puts many artists into bad deals with commissioners who devalue their work.
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To devalue art is to discourage artists.

With no perceived value in art, many artists - particularly those who work in traditional art - begin to question why they should create, and thus the world becomes starved of art. To devalue art - that which so catalyzes change - is to uphold the status quo, which can be a very dangerous thing to do for the people who do not benefit from that status quo. Art is one of the most powerful weapons in progress's arsenal; as such, it is undeniable...
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Even nonrepresentational art is important. The fact that it does not directly affect progress does not mean it is somehow lesser; abstract art often makes a statement on the malleability of the human perception, or depicts raw, powerful emotions that cannot easily be put into words. Interaction with abstract art can enrich a person's understanding of their self.

All drawings were made by me (Drew Benner).