What Do You Do With Art?

What Do You Do With Art?
April 8, 2016 Andrea Muhlbauer

What are you going to do with your degree in the arts? So do you just dance all day?

It seems like every other field has a clear purpose for existing. Teachers want their students to learn something they didn’t know before. Financial managers want to make sure people don’t spend money they don’t have. Scientists want to discover and explain things about the natural world. I have a friend who just went to Thailand to replenish coral reefs. There really isn’t a need to ask her what the purpose of that trip was; she was helping to sustain the lives of the animals and plants living in that coral reef. But, if you ask an artist what the purpose of putting on a particular show is, what would they say?

Some artists have a clear purpose for a particular show or piece, whether that is to advocate for a cause or to explore an artistic concept. Some go to the other extreme and say that art needs no purpose. However, I argue that all art needs a purpose, and this purpose is simpler and more fundamental than those mentioned above. I believe that the purpose of art is to inspire.

This seems like a vague purpose, but in my opinion it is quite important. As human beings, we have the luxury of being able to experience this beautiful world in which we live, and we can share these experiences through art. Some people have been on top of a mountain or at the bottom of an ocean, some have heard the rush of water from a waterfall or seen the vastness of the stars above their heads. By using art to interpret and share these experiences, other people can feel what it was like to experience the world in these ways. Some people have felt love and heartbreak, or an intense anger at someone they love. Some people have experienced both the high of success and the rock-bottom of failure. We have all experienced fear, joy, anger, and sadness. Through art, we can share these experiences and allow others to feel what we felt and see the world through someone else’s eyes.

We can use art to share experiences, tell stories, make people feel emotions, and allow them to view the world in a different way. We need to rise to that challenge and give people the experience art is capable of! Sharing experiences through art is how art can inspire people to live their lives fully by showing them different ways to view the world.

However, I don’t mean for you artists to start feeling self-important. Being an artist does not make anyone better than anyone else. Remember that even if you’re the best dancer in the world, you can’t perform heart surgery to save a life. You can’t lead a multi-million dollar corporation, and you probably wouldn’t even know how to manage a Starbucks. Artists are no better or more special than any other person. Being an artist simply means that you have the opportunity to communicate with people and inspire them. In fact, you have a responsibility to inspire them. Everyone deserves to feel inspired by a piece of art.


  1. Jennifer 4 years ago

    That post warms my heart. Dance for the sake of movement is interesting, but the productions that I really enjoy are those that I am able to connect with emotionally.

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