People don't tend to truly understand the value of things until they can actually relate them to their everyday lives. It's all about experiences and how much we value them, isn't it? It's tough for me to say how art has changed my life because it has really always been a part of my life. However, for argument's sake, here are ten PRACTICAL ways that it has "changed" my life and can change yours too.
1. CREATIVITY: Nothing can boost your personal creativity more than art. As I'm writing, I'm sitting here in my den surrounded by art. It's all over the walls and sitting on tables. I live in a contemporary art womb of my own making. This womb, if you will, has given birth to three, self-published, multi-award winning books, a website, an entire campaign to promote contemporary art and it has contributed greatly to the person I have become. It must be osmosis. Art makes you far more creative. It flows through you and if you let it, it can actually become you. If you want a creative edge, invite art into your life and watch the miracles flow. Do NOT get hung up on how this works. If you try to deconstruct this process, you'll screw it up for yourself and it will no longer work for you. Trust me on this. Just enjoy.
2. INSIGHT: Contemporary art has greatly improved my insight and can do the same for you. It has actually softened my insight and sharpened it at the same time. My powers of perception and observation are so much greater and yet I also feel so much more empathetic about people, society and life in general. Art forces you to consider it in ways that require your full attention. There's no way this can be a bad thing.
3. DIALOGUE: If you have greater creativity and insight, you automatically want to express yourself whether it be artistically or verbally. Contemporary art stimulates your intellect and your desire to express yourself and be heard. Also, with the benefits of greater creativity and insight, you actually gain valuable things to share. In short, art stimulates dialogue. It actually gives you something to talk about.
4. YOUR ZEN PLACE: There's something about art that gives you the tools to get to your "Zen" place quicker. What do I mean? Well, when you spend a lot of time looking at art and moving in artistic environs, you develop a sort of "sense memory" of the experience that you can use during stressful, chaotic times. However, you must spend enough time with art within its own environment in order to develop this tool.
5. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: I've said this before and I'll say it again. If you have an idea or you're seeking a creative solution to something in your life or business, seek out a gifted artist for guidance. I've done this and I've found that when I chat with artists, we speak as if my concept already exists in reality. Most artists I know are NOT naysayers. They understand the importance of vision and are supportive.
6. SOCIALIZATION: If nothing else, art teaches you that you are not alone. Someone made that art object that you're looking at and enjoying or questioning. When you look at art, you're almost looking into a reverse mirror and seeing the face of the artist who created it. Art reminds us that life is about expressing ideas and sharing them with others. Art galleries, art centers and museums are venues that exist for this specific purpose. I spend a lot of time alone with art, but I also enjoy big art parties. Art people (who aren't snobs) are the best. They're creative, insightful, collaborative and supportive. That's a great recipe for a party, no?
7. HISTORY AND CONTEXT: One of the things that I love about art is it reminds you that nothing exists without history and context. Everything that is and ever was has a story. Everything comes from something and somewhere. When you look at art, especially art that you love, remind yourself that you were born for a reason. You are NOT a mistake and your life has meaning. Your life is directly linked to the very purpose of this universe. Granted, your individual purpose may not be immediately clear to you, but hey, keep on living. The history and context of your life will unfold as you continue to use your own creativity in your life.
8. GRATITUDE: Art makes me happy and it can make you happy too. When looking at art, DO NOT question whether or not it's art. Just accept it for what it is. You too are art in the flesh. When you look at yourself in the mirror, accept yourself for who and what you are. Acceptance leads to positive change and an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE. Relax into this beautiful moment that is your life. Do this when you look at art too. Just enjoy it. I've found that when I've made the decision to enjoy something, I actually do. With that, happiness comes ... for the time being. More importantly, I've found that there's something about art that makes me feel WEALTHY and increases my gratitude and makes me more gracious. I'm tempted to say it also makes me more graceful, but I won't. :-)
9. PURPOSE: Whenever I look at art, I feel that there's something actually IN the art that's helping me to connect or reconnect with my true purpose. This can work for you too. Just stop, look and listen to what the art is saying to you. Every single piece of art that you see has a unique message for you. However, you must give it enough time, free of distractions. When you stand in front of art, search for your own personal connection. Art history and formal art education are great, but seek your own connection with art and find out what your life is saying to you.
10. SPIRITUALITY AND VISION: Art is material in nature, but there's something about it that reminds me that we are also spiritual beings. Art existed in someone's imagination before it came into material reality. Many scholars, faith seekers and yours truly believe that what we cannot see is actually more real than what we can see. Art can help you visualize your life as you want it to be and actually take the steps needed to bring your spiritual vision into being. Reality cannot exist without spirit and vision.
And here's a bonus ...
11. FOCUS AND PRODUCTIVITY: There's no doubt about it. The more time you spend with art, the more it improves your focus. Looking at art is a form of meditation and the more you do it, the longer you can focus. Our ability to focus can greatly improve our productivity whether it be at work or at home. I can sit for numerous hours straight without a break simply writing and focusing on the task at hand. I attribute that directly to my relationship with contemporary art and my strong ability to focus. It's like working out muscles in your body. The more you work out, the stronger you get, the longer your endurance and greater your productivity.
There you go. Ten - actually eleven - concrete, human and time-tested ways that contemporary art can change your life. Try these on for size. I guarantee you that if you do, you'll be able to come up with some of your own.