How Art can Challenge us to be Better People
I’m really into goal setting and one of my favorite ways to train my mind into achieving my goals is to surround myself with vision board images (images that reflect what I want my life to look like in the next several years) and aspirational notes on my laptop and kitchen cabinets. I place them in my line of vision in places where I spend a lot of time so that I am subconsciously absorbing them to 1) get used to the idea of them so I can easily receive them into my life and 2) to prompt my mind to come up with creative ways to achieve them. However, my whole home is not covered in vision board images and sticky notes. It also has blank walls, paintings, photographs, and sculpture. In fact, as I write this article my right side vision is filled with a large colorful abstract painting.
However, what if it was a generic print that I had bought in a megastore? What if I just bought that generic print to fill the space but I really didn’t have any emotional attachment to the print? What would that say about my future? I believe it would say that I’m willing to settle for a generic unchallenging life and that would contradict all of the work that I was doing with the aspirational images and words in my home and office.
Therefore I believe that we should decorate our walls with whatever inspires us to be better people. We should buy it because it challenges us and evokes a positive emotional response be it an original piece of art, a framed print, a poster, or a postcard.
Why Art Challenges Us
When you buy art you are buying a reflection of yourself. You are drawn to art because of the Law of Attraction or more put more simply you are drawn to it because it is like you in some way. And I think this is why art is so misunderstood. The way people talk about art is often as if it is a static creation that is always “beautiful” or “happy” or “sad,” but the simple truth is that art is complex because it is created by us and we are complex.
And because we fear our own complexities or more precisely the parts of ourselves that we don’t understand, we often fear art. The more acceptable term of course is that art intimidates us. We are intimidated to find out more about ourselves and therefore the idea of surrounding ourselves with things that reflect back our own complexities can be overwhelming. So instead, we surround ourselves with simple things so that we fool ourselves into believing that our lives are simple and therefore the answers to life are simple.
However, I have found that the people that I admire most have homes and offices full of complex art. And the one thing that all people that I admire have in common is that they are extremely comfortable with all aspects of themselves. In fact, they all see life as a journey where just around the bend they’re going to find out something interesting about themselves. They want to be challenged.
How we Can Leverage Art to Make Us Better
As I said earlier, art reflects ourselves back to us …but it doesn’t just reflect back the positive parts it also reflects back the parts of ourselves that we don’t always like.
For example, I have a painting of a colorful landscape of the sun rising (or setting) above a marsh. When I first got it I was so excited to put it on my wall. However as I passed by it everyday in my hallway, I began to have misgivings about it. It seemed darker and more sinister than I had recalled. I began to ask myself what was hiding in the shadows? And I even took it down and placed it in the corner facing the wall for a while.
I believe that this reaction is why people have buyers’ remorse. They saw some part of themselves that they didn’t like in their new piece of art and they don’t want to deal with it. However, when we deal with these shadows and the darker aspects of ourselves we become better people. For example, when I put my painting back on the wall and accepted all aspects of it including the sun above the marshes, the shadows at the bottom and my feelings associated with it, an unease that I’d been carrying around dissipated from my body…and I felt lighter…and more myself.
Why Buying Art is an Investment in Our Souls
Good art is made from the soul. Art that truly moves us is made by artists who are taking risks and being completely vulnerable. As a result that art brims with emotion.
As an artist myself I know that every time I look at each piece I’ve made I am immediately thrown back in time to the moment that I made it and the emotional state I was in.
So when I buy another artists’ work I believe that I am absorbing that energy, but what’s more important is that I am flooded with my reaction to that energy every time I look at it….and it’s that reaction that will continue to give me joy, challenge me, and make me grow as a person.
So what do you have hanging on your walls? And more importantly is it a reflection of where you want to go? Is it helping you grow?