Artistic Expression Arts and 21st Century Learning


Opportunities to engage in the artistic process are important for everyone in this increasingly complex world of the 21st century. Artists learn to expand the uninhibited thinking we all had as children. In creating their art, they learn to ask good questions, they discover multiple possible answers, and they work through setbacks with understanding and care. The artistic process can help us learn to cope with disappointments, to imagine and test scenarios, and to celebrate the uniqueness of who we are as individuals.

Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula by Wassily Kandinsky, 1908—Olga’s Gallery
Munich-Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula by Wassily Kandinsky, 1908—Olga’s Gallery. Via Wikipedia

There is no must in art because art is free.
~ Wassily Kandinsky

We can all benefit from the artist’s ability to remain open and look at things freely—inside out and upside down. Inspiration increases and artists often discover the best ideas and gain the greatest success as they experiment and manipulate the materials of their art form. It’s human nature to search for meaning in our experiences, and the freedom learned in the artistic process can help us manipulate the “materials of our lives” and give us a sense of direction whether in a relationship, in a working environment, or leading an organization. When we’re close to a situation—living it day-to-day as an artist creating a work of art—the artistic processes may be more challenging, but the rewards can also be considerably more significant than something that’s further away or only an occasional appearance in our lives. The familiarity gives us greater freedom to experiment, to play, and to create something with a viewpoint we may have never considered.

In learning to use the freedom of the artistic process in our lives, we’re “making art” of another sort. The materials are our everyday relationships, environments, beliefs, and thoughts.

Using the artistic process in this way—

  • We’re recovering our restrained or abandoned voice.
  • We’re creating environments for healthier families, workplaces, and communities.
  • We’re reclaiming an often neglected part of ourselves by literally “making” or “remaking” our lives.


A stamp printed in Thailand shows an image of children playing to commemorate Children's Day, circa 1999.
A stamp printed in Thailand shows an image of children playing to commemorate Children’s Day, circa 1999. Editorial Credit: pixbox77 /

Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE. 
~ Joss Whedon

Those who make art know the unlimited possibilities and rewards. But even if we aren’t musicians, actors, directors, dancers, painters, or sculptors, we can all learn and practice the artistic process, gain arts awareness and creative consciousness, and ultimately succeed in enjoying a more meaningful and expansive way of moving in the world. It’s important for our wellbeing. It’s critical for the challenges we face in the world today.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.
~ E. B. White

In what ways do you participate in “art-making”? Take time to be spontaneous. Recall the uninhibited thinking we all had as children. Contribute to the world in a new way, with joy, an open mind, and a fresh perspective.

— Pat

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