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Communicating Without Words: Art as a Tool of Expression

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It is hard to imagine a time when computers or electronic devices were not our primary form of communication. Though they make our lives more streamlined, there is little room for artistic expression. There are hundreds of reasons why people make art. Whether it’s a picturesque painting, a large ceramic vase, or a long-form dance, there are thousands of types of art that allows us to convey real human ideas and emotions when words simply can’t suffice.

As a society, we use written or oral language to interact with others. However, even in ancient times, there were many examples of individuals using a non-traditional means of communicating their ideas. Art can relay viewpoints about politics, causes, societal changes, and religious ideas. It also explores how different forms such as color, light, and composition affect the way we view these ideas. Words can potentially be used, like in poems or stories, but images tend to challenge our way of thinking and help us understand new concepts like never before.

Art is one of the ultimate reflections of how a person thinks, what they believe, and how they ultimately express themselves. In this article, we are going to explore the idea of how humans communicate expressively through art.

Art and Expression in Historical Times

Art can be representative of the marking of a specific event or a time period in history. Man’s early cave paintings are a true example of this. So, how did they first begin to make this art? By creating a type of paint from the natural elements at their disposal. For instance, they would use iron oxide to make “red” and manganese oxide to make “black.” These prehistoric paintings reveal what plant and animal life was like thousands of years ago.

Though these early people may not have had the specific words for “bison,” “horse,” “deer,” or “wolf,” the details in their art helps us understand exactly what they were referring to. Now today, we can correctly identify a civilization’s interactions with these animals, how they were hunted, and how men and women lived with them side by side years and years ago. Even something as small as handprints or hand stencils give today’s historians an idea about body composition and more.

Thousands of years ago, we can see that the first human-made objects were made from stone or wood tools. Rock art, pottery, sculptures, and ceramics are other clues left behind from the past. Mainly the focus of these objects were female figures or animals in their area. And as technology advanced, and as a civilization’s values changed, so did their styles of art. In Egypt, the art emphasized religion and the idea of immortality. In Greece, they honed in on intricately made sculptures. In the Renaissance era, art depicted the material world.

Art and Expression in Modern Times

Luckily, there are hundreds of different forms of art and artistic styles to choose from. If you are looking for a way to express yourself in your free time, here is a helpful list to get you started:

  • Visual art: This is the most common type of art. It includes paintings, drawings, sketches, watercolors, finger painting, sculpting, photography, or more. Many times, this art needs a certain level of skill, but that is not a requirement.
  • Applied art: While this is a form of visual art, applied art has an added element of functionality to the end result. Examples are architecture and interior design. Wood crafts are also a popular activity in this category.
  • Performing arts: Children are drawn to performing arts like ballet and dance, while adults participate in music, opera, theatre, and films. Since this art features movement, it can potentially double as a form of exercise.

If none of these activities sound like they are within your field of expertise or interest, you can always try your hand at other miscellaneous activities that still hold artistic expression. Calligraphy, mixed-media installations, fashion, or even updating or renovating antiques are artistic hobbies people appreciate in their free time. Even if you find you don’t have a “talent,” it doesn’t necessarily matter, as long as you enjoy it!

Art and Expression in Children and Adults

Children are likely to understand ideas and symbols before they even speak their first words. This is why so many kids love coloring with their crayons as an activity. They can use paper to hold the physical proof of their artistic experiments. Whether they are documenting reality, or letting their imaginations take the reign by creating mythical creatures like dragons or unicorns, artistic expression is fun!

Children’s vocabulary is often limited. So when using their words is not quite enough, art is an excellent alternative for expression. Best of all, there are no strict rules for art. Many times children will get corrected if they use the wrong words. But when it comes to art, there is no need to fear that they are doing art the “wrong” way. Styles may vary from child to child, but it is very effective for helping kids process what they see, think, hear, and know.

Children’s art also opens up conversations between themselves and adults, such as their parents and teachers. If their art expresses fear, sadness, or another negative emotion, the adults in their lives can address it in a responsible way. In fact, many adults use something called “art therapy” as a means of addressing poor thoughts and expressing them in a safe manner. Art therapy helps people tackle their personal problems in a very tangible way. It is used by thousands of individuals today because it promotes being able to assert your feelings in a safe space without fear of rejection.

There are countless studies proving the benefits of using art as a tool of expression in adults. Art therapy has helped adults improve their overall moods and decrease disruptive or harmful behavior that may have been holding them back in the past. It also allows us to powerfully process our past experiences in a way we might not have been able to communicate through words alone.

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