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Art for Art-“sake”


I learned a huge lesson yesterday from my 7 year old daughter about keeping my focus on Art for the sake of

Just appreciating art.

Today we have to fight for the Arts……

There are so many things tied to the arts to be considered a curriculum that is worth while in the world of education. Not to mention just putting our foot down to STOP them from being cut!  You name it we have it : From S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M. to creating an integrated population of Math and Arts schools focused on why each of the two go hand and hand.  Please do not misunderstand me though, I do appreciate these efforts greatly.  However, I am starting to really question the perception of what art is?  Did people have a knee jerk reaction to taking children to hear a symphony or to view the Mona Lisa that led them to complain about how they are “missing instructional time”  years and years ago?  Yikes!

So what did your daughter show you?

To start with I am very blessed with a family that has a true appreciation of the arts.  What I mean is as an arts educator I DO NOT force my children to sing, draw, dance, or any other one area of “Artistic Education.”  I even dislike seeing myself type Artistic Education right now.  I firmly believe in the arts and in “Arts in Education.”  But truth be told, my wife and I make sure that our children are exposed to the opportunity to be creative. Yes they sing!  Yes they Dance!  Yes they Draw!  All of this is a true expression of their creative spirit and will never be extinguished!

Very often my daughter will ask me, “Daddy can we sit out front and sell my art?”  I remember the very first time we did this.  I was SO VERY AFRAID that just like that lemon aid stand that people drive right by — no one would stop and look at her art stand or  pay her money for her creative impulse.  I did not want her feelings or artistic confidence to be crushed.  I was afraid and fear needs to be overcome.  So I did!  Well I think you know where this is going.  I was wrong.  People stopped and she made money.  She is 7 years old and that first time made about 13 dollars for an hour worth of work selling her very own creations.  I was proud and I was upset at myself for doubting her ……  and I was emotionally transformed.

THANKFUL for wisdom from others.

I had a meeting with a colleague this past week and he talked about the top of blooms taxonomy (which is the one iconic visual entity that ALL educators recognize) being “creativity” and how exciting that should be.  But he also focused on how amazing the idea that Art is beyond creative and that it is “transformative.”  This word was epic to me.  He sighted experiences that he remembered throughout his life seeing works of art and listening to live music that literally changed the entire direction of who he became as a person and the life he lives daily!  I started thinking about the very same transformative things in my life that were all Art for Art sake!  They were not tied to some national standard or an experience that was pushed on me so that I would understand a math equation.  I admired art at a very early age.  I have proof of this from something a very wise 5th grade teacher did for us.  She made us answer questions and put them in a time capsule that was hidden under ground and would only be opened two weeks before our  senior graduation.  One of the questions read “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Yes I still have the very paper which reads “A musician and someone that is allowed to create things with instruments.”

The Hook for me.

Recently when we were sitting out front of our house selling my daughters artwork this is what happened:

1) I met neighbors that stopped even though we are separated by fences.

2) I learned about the history of the home we live in and the transformations of the neighborhood.

3) I saw people from all races, economic background, age, and life experiences stop their cars to make a 7 year old child feel good about her creative impulse.

And you know what?  Not one of them asked about how she does on Math tests or what she wants to be when she grows up.  They just smiled and said how beautiful her creations were.  And then I felt that EPIC crack in the universe again and I thought this is Art for Art sake and she is experiencing a transformative moment.

I felt the effect of a 7 year old experiencing Art being in a community.  We all know this is real.  But we deny it daily. There is no community on the planet that is void of art.

At that very moment I was so thankful for the following:

  • My Fifth Grade Teacher
  • I had that day off from work to sell art with my daughter
  • The weather was beautiful beautiful that day
  • She kept asking me until I just knew it was what we had to due.
  • Art – Creativity – The Ambitious mind and all of the people that fostered my love of Dance, Visual Art, Music, Poetry, and human Creativity.

This time she made about $10 dollars which was less than the las time. However, the part that got to me the most …… the part that made me cry was that she said,  “Daddy I love making people happy with my Art.”

Art for Art Sake



Kurry John Seymour

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