by Cassidy Martin, 2016 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate, Artist & and Art Lover
Art has always been a staple of mental hunger. A saving grace, a safe place, a best friend, a life line. It’s something that has even parented youth. I’ve witnessed it save lives, including my own. Self-expression and discovery through art has been one of the most crucial developmental areas in humans. It gives us confidence, and lets us figure things out by ourselves and with others. It’s been used in therapy and is literally therapy.
I mean come on, Van Gogh didn’t paint because he wanted to be famous. He painted when he was in a mental hospital! When he was deemed dangerous he painted flowers, the sky, himself. Art reminds us who we are, and helps us create who we want to be. It’s one of the most creative forms of communication. You have a crush on someone? Why not write a love poem? Look, you don’t have to give it to them. Some things that are created aren’t meant for everyone to see (even though it would maybe make their day, you know just saying).
It’s not a crime! Art can make people uncomfortable. Someone once told me a good writer makes you feel something, and feeling uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing. Do you think a kid in 6th grade who’s been bullied all their life wants to read their first spoken word poem in front of their class? Do you think they shouldn’t do it if it makes them uncomfortable? There are some people that don’t like listening to artists like Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, or J.Cole because they call out racism. Do you think racist people are comfortable hearing about racism? Do you think adults want to hear youth point out through a spoken word poem their responsibility for creating an environment where gang violence is all they know? But do you think people don’t need to hear it because it’s uncomfortable?
Art is necessary. It can make you uncomfortable, or be your therapy. It can be a hobby or a career. The sounds, the picture, and the stories you create could be just for you or for the entire world. It changes people’s minds and their hearts. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, impactful enigma through which everyone can participate, grow, and thrive. You should go find out for yourself; and I promise you, everything will be okay.