Lakshmi Rameshwar Rao, Hyderabad
Aesthetic value resulting from the use of sets of skills to produce something beautiful is described by the word Art. It is a universal language which all human beings can understand and use to communicate. Art and craft play a central part in the creation of culture. Art is a thing of beauty.
Outpourings of thought and ideas cannot always be understood in isolation but require a context. They are global activities that go beyond language, making meaning through innate intelligence to elicit aesthetic value.
We use art to express ourselves and to speak to others across time and place. Those who undertake these activities are called artists; people who are driven to make art due to their inner creativity and desire for self expression.
Art is considered the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses. Over centuries artists have evolved a variety of art forms, expressing themselves through various media.
When defining art we must remember the extensive scope of the word. The word includes creative activities that express imaginative or technical skill to produce an artefact, also called a work of art, for others to experience. Such art forms belong to the genre of the plastic arts. They are contrasted with the performing arts.
Many artistic disciplines include performing arts and tactile arts. They may incorporate aspects of the visual arts as well as art forms such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, filmmaking and architecture.
They encompass a diverse range of human activities, creations and ways of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture and paintings. Music, painting and dance are expressive art forms, a symbolic language, and an integral aspect of world cultures.
Art forms which involve physical manipulation of a plastic medium by moulding or modelling, such as sculpture or ceramics, are known as the visual arts that create works which are best contrasted with the performing arts.
The visual arts also encompass art forms such as painting, sculpture, film and photography as opposed to the performing arts that include dance, drama and music.
Many human beings have imagination and the urge to create beauty. This is clearly visible in young children. Schools usually encourage children to draw and paint and express themselves through the visual arts. Schools also encourage self expression through music, including prayers set to music at morning assemblies and group singing. Well equipped schools may introduce children to musical instruments, to clay modelling and the fine arts.
Folk communities too develop their own art forms. The Warli tribals of Maharashtra paint figures on the walls of their huts. Women of Bihar’s Madhubani region paint bright figures on walls. In many communities festivals are marked with ritual paintings of gods and goddesses, in folk styles created, developed and refined over long years, using locally available materials such as mud and clay and paints made from flowers and fruits. These are expressions of culture and tradition, passed on from one generation to the next.
However, many arts re quire the acquisition of knowledge and practical skills imbibed through years of training under master craftspersons or gurus. Our guru shishya parampara has ensured that classical musicians attain great heights. What is required today is a greater understanding of our classical music and temple arts such as sculpture and dance among the people.
We need to develop courses in art appreciation for schools, colleges and the people at large if our traditional arts are to thrive. We also need an appreciation of contemporary art forms and global arts. If our public discourse is to rise above the crudeness and crassness we often observe today, we must learn to value art and aesthetics and give these a special place in our lives.
(The writer has a Masters in Adult Education from Jamia Milia Islamia. She has many years teaching experience at the school level as also ten years of experience in book publishing and some published writing in newspapers and more students’ books. Lakshmi has retired and lives in Hyderabad.)