Why do I think art makes us better people?

One rainy Sunday afternoon before Christmas I happened to be waiting for my friend in Southbank centre in London. While waiting, an amateur mixed age choir stepped on to a stage and began rehearsing for an evening performance.

Out of curiosity and (partly) boredom, I watched them.

I let my eyes rest on their faces, the movement of their hands, opening and closing of their mouths. What I saw was absolute concentration, hours of preceding rehearsals and the struggle for perfection – all their energy was there without trying to impress. Collective effort filled up the space and something changed in the air. People around me stopped doing what they had been doing and witnessed it too. They got softer, touched by the hard work and endeavors of that random choir that was put together just to perform; everyone seemed to become closer to each other, shaking off layers of day to day dust.

I realized how important art was, not only for individuals but for the society as a whole.

People who are in direct contact with art (active art making or passive art receiving) in any of its forms – dancing, painting, music, writing, sculpting, whatever form – seem to be more in touch with themselves. As art was bringing our more compassionate sides to the surface, tapping into our collective emotions and switching on some hidden inner part of ourselves.

For a second the most important thing we notice is its beauty, harmony of lines, tones or words or how to make it all work. It is a selfless activity embraced in artists’ selfishness a reflection of an artist’s inner world shaped by the outside and then communicating it through a piece of work. Pause for reflection.

I think this is what makes art so special. It is all the effort put into it, uncountable hours of mental and also physical work, ideas wanting to be materialized and a long process of getting there.

All this can then be unconsciously seen or perceived by others and it awakes something in us. Not every art has the same effect on each and every one of us, we need to look for which art form affects us, and in what way. Art which speaks to us as individuals. We need to look for our own creative side which calls to be satisfied. It is definitely worth it.

As my mum often says: If someone doesn’t like reading, it just means they haven’t found the right book yet. 

So let’s look for our book and let art do its work on us.

After Rembrandt

Charcoal drawing from Rembrandt