By Sharina Gerald
A look at society may make one wonder where did we go wrong. At a glance it may seem as though we have lost our humanity. The crime situation plaguing our nation, in my opinion, is symptomatic of a greater problem: the erosion of moral and spiritual values. There seems to be a flagrant disrespect for life and dignity of the human being. But where did this come from? My hypothesis is that it may have stemmed from a neglect of arts education in the last century and that it has resulted in a starved human spirit. The result: a restless human spirit.
I came to these conclusions firstly by meditating on the process of making art. My process begins with a deep centering meditation where I allow my thoughts and emotions to unfold. I then allow an image to rise up within my spirit. Or sometimes simple objects around me would speak to me in the present moment and I would draw inspiration from them. Next, I sketch the core of my design lightly with graphite. I then mix and apply pigments as required. I am in tune with my whole being when doing this. It requires me to be patient, to be honest with myself, to be quiet. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I am further inspired. And all times I feel the presence of God.
When I first begin applying colour and I look at my painting, it, most times, looks nothing like what I intended. Sometimes there’s paint over the lines, it may lack dimension and a whole host of other issues. But if it’s one thing that I have is perseverance, so I continue on and then voila! There comes my creation finally making sense. What I have come to conclude is that things can look really messy in the beginning, but in the end, with grit you get what you have planned and imagined.
Now, what does my experience have to do with all of society and the education system? The answer is simple. What if everyone had similar experiences? What if they got to experience the sheer joy that comes from creating something? To see their pigments and surface or clay come to life? To feel their whole being? To connect with God? What if everyone was able to work through their challenges and mistakes through art?
Research has linked arts education with empathy and compassion in those who have been exposed to a quality arts education programme: empathy and compassion which are spiritual characters. Art can also teach us patience. And it has the ability to help us build resilience through this process of working through our challenges. Art can quiet us. In the silence of our souls we give birth to something new. Art can get us in touch with our thoughts and feelings and also the thoughts and feelings of others.
Art is prayer. If we can find time to create art in the silence of our souls then we are one step closer to fixing our societal ills. This is because every time we create, we walk with God. The more we create, the more we walk with Him. The more we walk with Him, the more we become like Him. The process of art makes us conscious and centers us. When we create, we connect with the master Artist, The Creator. This is how we pray.