People tend to stereotype the study of fine arts as either “easy” or that in order to take a fine arts course you must be able to define “abstract art” and know everything about the Byzantine Era. Shockingly enough, this is all untrue. In fact, those who tend to get the most out of visual art courses are those who have never taken a painting or drawing class ever before. For those who are extremely passionate about visual art, it is more natural for them to be in a studio environment, working with large canvases, expensive brushes, and varying mediums. But for those who have never set foot into their art department buildings, these are the individuals who have the great ability to develop and improve on many qualities they never would have expected to. At Saint Joseph’s University, the liberal arts foundation gives students the opportunity to explore many courses within the arts, even if these courses are not within their major requirements or even their school. Especially in college, a student’s diligence, personal opinions, matters of expression and collaborative skills are not only challenged but strengthened through fine arts courses.
Taking a visual arts course provides students of all backgrounds (and any major) with so many benefits. These benefits contribute to a person’s individual growth as well as how they hold their unique role in the world. One of the most obvious ways in which taking an art course can benefit someone is by exploring their creativity and stretching their brains to think and see things, perhaps differently than ever before. This in and of itself provides students with a more well-rounded education. It allows people to explore their personal forms of expression and interpretations of various subjects. People unfamiliar with fine arts courses tend to fall back on the idea they are “not good enough” to take an art course. The most ironic part about this is I have personally experienced students studying Marketing, Finance or Education produce some of the most praised works of arts in general painting and drawing classes. Each major allows people to think and feel differently, therefore the art produced showcases varying ways of expression. This makes for a more intriguing and diverse class.
Students in a painting or drawing course are able to improve their diligence. Artists will always say that in order to perfect your craft, you must remain dedicated, persistent and consistent to your craft. For some, a work of art can be finished within three hours. For others, it can take years to finally showcase their piece. My experience of painting courses at Saint Joe’s has been a homework requirement of at least seven hours of work on a piece every week. Going into my freshman year drawing course, I remember hearing this and feeling so overwhelmed, but as I went through the semester I found myself not only finishing the seven-hour requirement but moving on to sometimes nine or ten hours a week, solely because I felt passionate about producing a good piece. In order for someone to improve upon what they are passionate about, they must remain focused and hold the mentality of “practice makes perfect.” Perfecting these skills of diligence and patience can take many years, but in just one semester of an art course, I learned a lot about these concepts. Recognizing and beginning to develop these skills early in a student’s life can make a lasting impression — helping a student into their career path.
Within a fine arts course, students are also able to explore their individual expression of emotions, opinions and their take on the world. Students tend to have thoughtful, wandering minds unclear about what exactly they want to do in the future. I believe adding a painting or drawing class to a student’s (especially a college student’s) course load can only help them guide their minds into their own direction. College students are constantly thinking about their future and how to become their truest selves, and I believe only positive things can come from taking an art course in the midst of this self-reflecting time. Art courses can provide students with a positive outlet to express their individual creativity and personality without others’ judgment.
“Group project” is a term that students of all majors dread and art courses are no stranger to these as well. Collaborations tend to occur a lot in varying art fields. They can be just as challenging as any other course when trying to work with different people’s opinions, personalities, and expressive styles. Putting more than one artist’s vision into a single canvas can be overwhelming and seems somewhat impossible at first, but after working through initial issues, students do gain a lot out of it. Collaborations require students to understand their roles within an artwork. They require students to focus on their specific role while valuing the roles of those they are working with. Learning the importance of an individual as well as the overall group is a vital concept to understand for those of all majors.
Art courses allow students to be exposed to various cultures and historical times regarding the art community. Art has such a relevance to much of the world’s history and resonates with students of any background or major. In studying art (even if just for a semester), people become exposed to a taste of art history, varying forms, and multiple mediums as well as the progression of art movements and the styles of expression that go along with them. This gives students a look into how historical artists were impacted by their times and how they were able to react to the world through their art.
— Sophia Terry, ’20