Art has the ability to let people travel to different worlds

Published 6:42 am Sunday, August 18, 2013

Column: Art Is, by Bev Jackson Cotter

Would we still be hunters and gatherers? If people were not given a certain amount of creative thinking ability, would we still be hunters and gathers?

An interesting thought to ponder.

Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter

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Often the arts are the programs cut when schools are experiencing funding problems, and communities have to tighten their public belts to meet basic needs. What are our basic needs?

Even the hunters and gatherers of the stone age were able to meet their basic needs or we would not be here. So, for a little while I am going to stand on a soapbox and ask you to think about this.

Without creative thinking there would be no wheels, no looms for weaving cloth, no facilities for preparing food, no equipment for providing heat to our homes.

And, bringing it to our modern world, no smart phones, computers, drones, farm equipment with global positioning, volley balls, your favorite book, fishing tackle, gas pumps, snow shovels, Spam, elegant wedding cakes, crossword puzzles, car seats for children, golf clubs, parade floats, motorcycles, business logos, theater performances, chocolate cake, country music, dumpsters, various beer flavors, television shows … the list is endless.

Creative thinking defines our lives at any given time.

During the Great Depression, people managed to find the few pennies that would enable them to go to the local movie theaters, and for just a little while be transported to another place. It was the arts that enabled this to happen.

Creative thinking is in our daily lives, and it is also revealed to us in a classroom or museum atmosphere.

Some time ago at a Minneapolis Institute of Arts exhibit, I agonized at the pain of World War II concentration camp victims even though the paintings I viewed were in black and red and done in abstract style. The pain was real, shown by an artist who had been a victim of the camp. It was his art that placed me in that inhuman atmosphere.

Another exhibit there brought me into a different world entirely. It was a display of works by Dutch masters. Their bigger than life sized paintings were so intricate and so detailed the the viewer almost became a part of the art. I remember seeing a fly sitting on an apple and wanting to flick it off — erase the flaw in that otherwise perfect piece. The fly, of course, was painted on and I felt sorry being so drawn in.

Where would we be without the creative thinking that comes when looking at a blank piece of paper and knowing that it’s up to you — where to put that first dot, that first line, that spot of color and then the decision, “Where do I go from here?”

We think creatively whenever we analyze a problem, define the different issues and then come to a solution. What if we couldn’t “think outside the box?” How would we progress?

I love eating seafood and deer sausage and fresh-picked fruit, but I’m really glad that my life is not defined by hunting for meat and gathering berries for sustenance. I’m glad that we have the creative thinking ability to define anew our lives and our future. I’ll climb down from my soapbox now. Thanks for listening.


Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center where the upcoming exhibit will display art from various churches in the Albert Lea area.