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Appreciation For The Arts.

Just the other day I went to visit my aunt who also lives in Bangi. She is a retired school principle, now in her sixties. What started off as just catching up turned into quite an inspirational conversation. It triggered me to write this post thanks to that little conversation we had.

Since the very first time I laid my hands on crayons and started drawing, art(especially fine arts) has always been a passion of mine. I have always looked up to artists, poets and people involved in the world of arts as very exciting and gifted people. Same goes to people working in other fields like doctors, engineers, architects, you name it. My perception of the two professions has always been the same. I think that all professions require a certain amount of knowledge, intelligence, talent and skill.

That’s why I find it to be weird when some people show a great deal of respect only for professions like doctors, engineers, architects, accountants, lecturers, lawyers(to name a few). But when someone is told that a particular person is an artist, photographer, dancer, graphic designer, stylist, poet or such, they don’t really show the same amount of admiration or respect as they do for the first group of professions mentioned.

Why do they think that way you might ask? The basis could possibly be the fact that in our earlier education we were never taught about the understanding and appreciation towards the arts. The simplest example you can see is that Pendidikan Seni Visual (Visual Arts) is only offered to form 4 students who are in the arts stream. And some people perceive most of the students taking this subject to be students with a low level of intelligence, when the fact is, art requires a high level of intelligence and creativity. Even within the timeframe of form 1-form 3 arts class, which was compulsory for all students, the teachers only taught us the very basics in drawing and theory. We were only taught what was already in the text books. We were never exposed to the importance of art and how we can learn to appreciate it. We were never exposed to the possible art professions that could be ventured into. In other words, art was treated as just an additional subject that you had to take in middle school, without even knowing it’s relevance and what values come with it.

Even when I wanted to take up Visual Arts as an additional subject for my SPM, my school principle was very reluctant of approving it, which to me was completely ridiculous. We should be encouraged to explore. Feel the freedom to embrace art.

You don’t need to be gifted to understand and appreciate art. Appreciating art doesn’t mean you have to make paintings, write poems and go to art exhibitions. It means giving art at least some space in your heart and mind to be thought about or questioned. It means giving yourself some space to think about the ideas and the messages it convey. That way, people won’t be discouraged when it comes to choosing the arts as a profession, thinking that it’s less ‘glamorous’ or less ‘intelligent’.  The problem is a lot of Malaysians DO think that way. That is why the arts scene in Malaysia is not as active and ‘big’ as it is in other countries like France, Italy, Japan, and so on. Overseas, people can make a lot of money from arts itself because more people do in fact appreciate art and are willing to pay top dollar to own a piece of artwork, regardless if it’s a painting, photo, designer dress and also to experience various art performances.

Art should be celebrated as much as any other profession. So open your mind and senses. Start giving art a chance for once in your life and you might just see the world in a different tune. 

pencil colour on catridge
september 5, 2010

'setiap daun yang gugur, Allah Maha Mengetahui'

acrylic on canvas
august 20, 2010

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