Thursday, January 2, 2014

When an artist makes a visit to schools or healthcare facilities, lives are significantly changed. The value and impact of art can be drastically undervalued, especially in a time when funding for the arts is scarce or minimal. Many government funds and private funding entities no longer have the resources to give full support to meaningful art exchanges. For years, this kind of programming has relied on the generous support of individual donors and the time and talent donations from caring artists.

Many artists go to places in their communities to share art because they believe it is part of their responsibility to their art. Every artist who has been endowed with a gift is obligated to share what they have with others. It is an active way to thank the universe for all artistic blessings.

There is something else magical that happens, too, when artists have these kind of exchanges with youth and those who are sick and shut in. Artists learn more about themselves than they knew before they connected with the people they serve. It is true that a painter can teach a young person how to use different strokes to create beautiful paintings, or singers can show them how to properly use the diaphragm to extend their breathing. These things are mechanical and can be learned through any experience designed for instruction.

An artist learns about the person he is, though, when he practices the art of giving. The degree of generosity required to engage these kind of exchanges helps a person to know what kind of giver he is, what his boundaries are in the presence of other people and where his interpersonal weaknesses lie. In spite of the vast amount of knowledge an artist may have in his subject area, this kind of exchange also helps an artist learn what he does not know.

Invariably, there will be some random question, approach or circumstance he has never encountered before. He will be called on to deliver a solution, and if not a solution, then a workable approach to one. The best gift of any of these exchanges comes when the artists as mentor and the people in his charge discover the solutions together.

The generosity of many artists has often enabled community exchanges to happen with little or no funding. They give out of a genuine desire to extend art to others. The cycle is continuous. What an artist gives to others extends to the world.

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