Art has always been an influential part of culture for its beauty, historical insight, use as decoration, and way of gathering people around images relevant to their faith, cultural practices, or other revered elements of life. Art is used as a form of communication that does not require written or spoken words to convey meaning. It is used to teach viewers what to pay attention to in their surroundings, what to believe, how written texts have implications on daily life. When used as a form of emotion expression, art becomes a powerful tool in bringing forth feelings that are too complex for words alone. Most importantly, art is a fantastic creative outlet that allows for a chance to break away from life, even if only for a short time, to release all of one’s energy into creating something by hand. Art is a form of emotional, personal, and religious expression that evokes a response or connection from the viewer. To inspire such reactions, however, the viewer must carefully examine the work in front of them to pull apart various meanings and interpretations.
Art in pop culture
While art has changed dramatically in form and type over time, it will always be an influential element of popular culture. Art can be found in pop culture through graphics in television shows, magazines, and comic books, but has come to include digital sources with the rise of technology. These newer visual representations include memes, cell phone backgrounds and photos posted on social media, all containing emotion and meaning for observers to discover. While they may not always seem like complex sculptures or drawings that took hours to create, memes have artistic qualities as shown by their purpose for conveying realistic responses to everyday issues, often bringing about laughter. Social media sites like Instagram showcase photos taken by people around the world in daily life, highlighting even the smallest events or encounters. Each of these sources allow for expression of one’s thoughts, no matter the magnitude or significance of the photo, caption or event.
Art and famous pieces are often referenced in music to paint a picture in the listeners’ minds. The song “Scars To Your Beautiful” proclaims the importance of celebrating every person’s unique beauty and self-worth despite insecurities. It highlights the pain of struggling to conform to society’s definition of beauty, achieving a so-called “perfect” image: “…she praises an image/She prays to be sculpted by the sculptor” (Cara 2015). Cara’s reference to the sculptor could also be alluding to God’s creative power, asking to be formed in a way to fit the world’s ideals of beauty. Instead of referencing broad topics in art, other songs like Don McLean’s “Vincent” celebrate famous artists themselves. “Vincent” tells the story of the troubled life of Vincent van Gogh, using examples of techniques employed by the artist in his paintings and how they reveal his deepest emotions. McLean honors Vincent’s life and acknowledges the hardships he endured, finding peace and understanding in the artist’s tragic death. Aside from his suffering and death, McLean praises van Gogh’s talents while repeating that Vincent endured intense mental and emotional pain unknown to the outside: “And now I understand what you tried to say to me/How you suffered for your sanity.” With such personal details, it sounds like this song was written by a loved one of van Gogh’s reexamining their conversations while he was still alive. “Vincent” is almost like a biography of Vincent van Gogh’s life and work, disclosing the truth behind the bright, cheerful paintings the world has come to love.
Films also celebrate art by including characters who have a passion for creating art of their own or referencing other works of art in a movie. In the movie The Notebook, the main character Allie tells Noah she loves to paint when he asks her what she enjoys doing for herself. Noah takes this into account when building their future house, being sure to include a well-lit area for Allie to paint. Allie’s love of painting becomes something Noah wants to nourish, showing Allie he remembers things important to her. It is through this support and thoughtfulness that Allie and Noah form a deeper bond and fall in love. Artwork can also be included to support a plotline, in movies such as Heaven Is For Real. The film is based on a book by pastor Todd Burpo who writes about his son’s visit to Heaven after a near-death-experience. Four-year-old Colton suffers a serious case of appendicitis and has visions of Jesus in Heaven while doctors operate to save his life. At the end of the film, Todd finds a painting done by a young girl who had similar visions and paints what she remembers from these encounters. Colton’s face when he sees the painting is a look of pure shock and awe as he sees images once only in his memory sitting in front of him. Inclusion of this piece makes the story more credible, showing that two young children have such vivid and eerily similar conceptions of Jesus and Heaven.