Art is a skill of discipline; whether you are a woodworker, a painter, a cake decorator, a chef, a miniature artist, a muralist, an interior decorator, and much more it is always something that takes years to get to a point in which you are proud of your work. There is some art that is needed for architecture such as geometry, some art that is needed for travel such as cartography, there are pieces of art that otherwise serve no purpose until we are hit with an immense tragedy, and we cannot cope with how alone we are in our suffering. That is, until we see the painting, hear the song, or connect with the poem that touched our hearts and reached out to say, "you are not alone." In this way, all art has purpose and in this way all art is noble and worthy of our attention even if we find it is something we would rather appreciate from afar.
Art is fundamentally something that transcends and intersects all rudimentary subjects in schooling, and binds together the principles of arithmetic. One must understand proportion and geometry at least a bit to create a work that is aesthetically pleasing in a realistically rendered style. To be able to even attempt to create such a work is a testament to how hard someone worked at their study of the subject. To know which paints to use is sometimes know how, and many times science. Discovering how a paint dries to understand how it may last or not last archivally- after all many fine artists are simply seeking to create art that outlives themselves.
Art can be used to help understand history for the simple fact that art is communication. Where we now just open our phone and snap a button and in less than 1/3 of a second we have an image puts us in a different mind frame than those who lived only 3 generations ago. The pictures of families in the past were largely an art form and using a camera in 1855 is just as complex and most would argue a completely different machine now than it was then. With just that in mind- you know that the photographer is trying to capture something within the photograph. They are trying to communicate through an image. This is definitely art and each portrait painted had lots of geometry, proportion, clothing, and more that was always trying to communicate a message or symbolize something. This is the purpose of these types of historical art- for a way of dating the past yes but also a way of making a message last for an eternity.
In the masonry of castles, in the mountains carved by expert hands in the caves of India, to create architecture one needs a good plan to start from. There were days where building something- anything, was an arduous task and it took several years of planning to build even one home for a wealthy family. Yet there were vast monuments and mosaics built collaboratively with many builders coming together to create art. Nowadays we associate mosaics with one or two artists rather than a whole group of builders working to achieve a common goal of a mosaic floor. We have to view history out of the context that we want to give to it and art is a great channel for this. Not to mention, art is a time capsule for man. It is a way for mankind to sort of record our own histories and make them something to remember. It is also an indicator of separation for example, did you know that hieroglyphics DO contain pictures but there were several forms of hieroglyphs, and some were reserved for the Pharoh while others were for the Pharoh's servants or embalmers?
Art can also be found everywhere in science. Many times, what science finds is able to put something we already knew as beautiful into words in a way none of us thought of before we found what science found. Art through science is a way to understand anatomy, thought webs, infographics, illustration and scientific communication. Art helps us to visualize math making the 2D problem relatable to real life with visualization through geometry or through other means. We all remember the guy in our math books with 64 watermelons. Is it the visual that allows us to remember or the words? Either way, you see the point that art especially striking or visual art is something that serves us in these often-nuanced subjects.
Finally, art can be found throughout any subject. It provides an anchor point where we may have none. Want to study pirate ships? Turn half of an orange juice carton into a ship and learn the anatomy of a ship that would have sailed in the time period that pirates presented a real nuisance. This will pull you into clothing, how it was made, trade, politics of the time, math of the time and more as a natural happenstance because art is so integral. I believe each and every student no matter their age is eager and ready to learn just as we adults are, they are just wondering how to access complicated content. It is our job as teachers to make the material no matter how complex accessible with the correct measures taken before hand to help introduce new material that builds on previous teachings.
Art is one of the driving forces of connections and division simultaneously. From political comics to grand murals about community unification, there are many examples of art that push and challenge the beliefs we may have around history. Art also provides context like what people thought or did for the sake of beauty at one time is not the same as what other people did. What is one way that art has helped you learn in a surprising way?