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The Importance of Expressing Emotion through Art

The world is a strange place right now. Downright surreal even. And it’s hard to deny that there are a lot of emotions at play.

Interestingly enough, the Latin roots of the word emotion are e (out) + movere (move). In an ideal world, emotions create feelings that flow naturally. But oftentimes they get dammed up.

Whatever you’re feeling these days, it can be a lot to carry. Expressing emotion through art is an incredible way to release those feelings before they get too deep and begin to create other problems.

It Is Crucial to Release Emotions

Humans are hard-wired to express themselves. Just look at young children. Because they haven’t yet been taught to squelch emotions, they are at complete liberty to just let their emotions fly. It could be a scream of joy, an angry yell, or an immediate outburst of crying. (Sometimes all three in the course of two minutes.)

It would seem as though they have the inside scoop on the research.

Because studies show that whenever we repress, deny, or disallow an emotion to be what it needs to be, our network pathways get blocked. Pretty soon, they’re gumming up the works and the vital feel-good unifying chemicals that dictate both our biology and behavior are unable to flow.

Nobody wants that.

Expressing Emotion through Art

Sometimes simply stating what you’re experiencing isn’t in enough.

In order for emotions to move through us freely, they must be accepted and expressed. Doing so enlivens us and fuels our creativity. Fortunately, experiencing emotions directly through art is fairly simple – if you allow for the process.

This could be done drawing, painting, sculpting, music, movement, writing, drama, whatever creative means allows you to open up and bare your soul. You needn’t be talented or skilled at any of these either. They are simply a means for expressing yourself.

And each time you create a work of art, you’re sharing new ideas, as well as different ways to express yourself. This can certainly serve as motivation for others.

Steps toward Self-Expression

Sometimes getting started can be the toughest part. You don’t need to create an original masterpiece though. You’re just finding a way to let emotions flow.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is theft.” So while each piece of art is different, the inspirations are shared. At Arts Academy in the Woods (AAW), we encourage the following as you attempt to express emotions through art:

1. Do Not Hold Back

Whether it’s painting or poetry, music or mixed media, it’s easy to start feeling stifled when facing a creative medium. You may feel you don’t understand “the rules” associated with that medium.

Forget about the rules. You’re trying to create something that’s a reflection of you – not striving to attain technical mastery of the medium. Just allow yourself to feel. Fully and completely.

Allow your emotions to guide you on how you create the art. You will feel cathartic as you utilize the art to let go of damaging emotions that have been bottled up for too long.

2. Embrace Mistakes

One of the single biggest obstacles is fear of failure. It can cause you to give up before you even start. But the true failure is not trying in the first place.

At AAW, we remind students that failure is one of the best ways to learn.  Of course, we’re not encouraging intentional failing. But everyone makes mistakes when creating art. View it as a learning experience and keep going. What’s important is that you’re letting your creativity flow.

If you’re obsessing over staying “safe” with art or worried about what others think your art should be, you will end up not revealing much about yourself. So just keep in mind that when creating self-expressive art, you can be comfortable in taking risks. You want the art to mean something to you – regardless of what others think.

3. Question Your Actions

When engaged with self-expressive art, you have to be brave and dig deep. Ask yourself why you behave in certain ways. Even if you don’t like the answers. Doing so is going to allow you to release the emotions around those behaviors while also giving you insight into your thoughts and actions.

4. Be Spontaneous

Spontaneous art is incredibly liberating. It’s one of the best ways to release emotions. So be impulsive. Throw some paint on a canvas Jackson Pollock style. Or explore some experimental sounds on music tracks like Björk. You don’t have to rely on preexisting art forms. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how free you feel.

5. Chill

Don’t put a bunch of pressure on yourself. And certainly don’t let other’s pressure you. Stress and tension will harsh your creativity buzz. And they’ll just create more negative emotions – which is counterintuitive to the whole process.

So seriously. Relax. Let the art be emblematic of you. Because it’s for you.

Art As a Necessary Part of the Curriculum

Art educators understand the importance of learning through art. At arts-integrated schools, they even teach math, science, and social studies through art. Beyond that though, you learn a lot about yourself through art too.

Self-expressive art helps you find new depths to your thinking you may not have realized were there. And you can apply this to so many other areas of your life. That’s what makes art such an important part of education.

Art allows students to release stress in a healthy way. It gives them an alternative way to express themselves – either through a shared experience, or one that’s more private. Yet stripping funding for the arts in place of STEM subjects continues to happen.

And it’s a true disservice to students – and future adults – everywhere.

Want to Find out More about Expressing Emotion through Art?

At an arts academy middle school/high school like AAW, students are encouraged to grow and flourish by expressing emotion through art in a safe environment.

They learn the value of art and how it applies to every aspect of life. And most of all, they are taught to forget about the naysayers and overcome the obstacles when it comes to self-expression; to always move forward and do what they love.

If you feel like AAW could be the perfect place for your middle school or high school-aged child to thrive, contact us today to find out more. Expressing ourselves is more important now than ever.


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