the importance of the arts in communities and schools

Mitch Anderson, Co-Chair of the Artists in Residence Ministry at Trinity, shares his perspective and pinpoints why art matters. 

This spring at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has been a busy time in the visual arts. In addition to our 11th Annual Art Exhibit, we’re exhibiting Black Comics, as well as a memorial exhibit to arts pioneer Margaret Burroughs, and culminating with a visit from Mark Bradford on May 22, a world-renowned visual artist. Mark has chosen Trinity (from any on the globe!) as the church home to whom he’s bringing his message of art and community!!

But as you may have noticed, these activities stand in stark contrast to what we see in our country today; political partisanship has fueled attitudes ranging from apathy, to outright hostility towards the funding and valuation of art programs across the country.

Compelling research demonstrates participation in arts programs help children read and write better, be more focused in class, raise test scores, develop higher self-esteem, and solve problems more creatively. Art programs involve communication, interpretation and understanding of complex symbols similar to mathematics and foreign languages. Learning these skills helps to develop high order analytical skills as well as skills of evaluation and synthesis. Many art programs make the child regularly use different skills in turn making them very dynamic and versatile. This helps children form positive attitudes about themselves and others while building self-esteem. 

So what can we do? Despite the art-challenged atmosphere in which we find ourselves, there are many ways to fight back! There are numerous ways you can experience the arts. For example, taking a young person (and an open mind!) to the nearest art gallery or museum—Mark Bradford’s opening at the MCA on May 26 would be a great start! 

Mitch Anderson

Mitch Anderson’s artwork include illustrations used in magazines and publications, as well as gallery pieces focused on the human form. His exhibitions include the South Side Community Art Center auction, and the Black Creativity exhibit, on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Photos (top to bottom): Mitch leads a recent youth workshop ”Drawing Superhero & Funny Comics”; youth Summer Project, a mural commemorating Trinity’s dedication of it’s “George Washington Carver” garden and Farmer’s Market; Mitch with young workshop participants. All photos provided courtesy of Trinity United’s Artists in Residence.

Tags: Mitch Anderson Artist in residence Trinity United Church participation
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