Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

--Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)


Imagine a world without art, music, poetry, and stories. Such a world would lack the expression of much human creativity. It would be uninteresting, utilitarian, and devoid of entertainment, enjoyment, and the joy of living. When human ideas, expression, and creativity are forced to serve an overly rational or ideologically programmed agenda, when the mind and soul are collared by convention or chaffed by censorship, when freedom is suppressed, the arts suffer in fulfilling their purpose, which is, ultimately, to express the truth. Expression that is not free, is not full. It misleads since it does not tell the whole truth.

Self-expression through language, music, and imagery is an essential part of being human. As such, it is often the first casualty in times of inhumanity, war, fear, totalitarianism, terror, suspicion, and self-righteousness.

Art, in that it is the expression of truth, is not confined to what we often label as “the arts.” There is an art to any activity. How we order, explore, improve, and govern our lives is just as important, and can be as beautiful, as the most celebrated sculptures.

A political speech, for example, may not be very full of truth, but it still relies on the art of rhetoric to make a point and convince others. The sciences may seem supremely rational, but there is artistry involved in each equation, in the way numbers are used, in each supernova and black hole, and in the way plants and animals grow.

Each March, we celebrate Youth Art Month. There will be concerts, art shows, plays, and poetry recitals in McFarland schools and at the E.D. Locke Public Library. (A Youth Art Month reception will take place at the library on Thursday, March 1, from 5:30-7 p.m.) The McFarland Thistle will also be publishing student-created advertisements and student writing in its special section, “Adventures in Advertising,” in the March 29 issue.

This month take the opportunity to appreciate the important place the arts have in education and in the fullness of our lives. When we were small children, we would draw anything we wanted. Most of it didn’t resemble what we said it did, but our parents would gratefully accept these pictures and proudly display them on the refrigerator and the walls like the house was a museum gallery and we were acclaimed artists in residence.

For some of us, this parental encouragement and support for our artistic expression may have waned over time. Perhaps we found out that we could not draw or paint as well as we once thought we could. Maybe we could not carry a tune or commit ourselves to practicing. Perhaps we never got the hang of putting our deep thoughts into words so that others could understand and appreciate them. However, maybe we developed a love of visual art, took up a creative hobby, came to appreciate a type of music or found out we loved to read novels or textbooks on astrophysics.

Hopefully, we have come to a realization of how important the arts are in our lives. Hopefully, we do what we can to support them in our schools and continue our involvement in them beyond our time in school to enrich our lives, to inspire others, and to communicate the truth in a world full of instability, challenges, cynicism, negativity, confusion, and simple desperation for survival.

The arts can remind us of what is truly important in life, who we really are, and what our purpose is. So, take time to see, hear, and read what McFarland’s children are communicating through their art. And take time to express what is in your soul—either through creating or enjoying the many kinds of art which fill the world and make it an interesting place. This is something that makes life worth living.

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