Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
The term “art” defines a multitude of works created by human beings. It serves as not only a way to escape day-to-day life, but also has the powerful role of redefining culture.
Art is literally a glimpse into our past world. When we look at a piece of artwork from medieval France or ancient Greece or from 6th century China, we are literally looking at the same exact same piece of work that that artist looked upon to create so long ago. Besides books, they are one of the closest things we have to touching the past.
While artists aren’t directly involved with guiding governmental policy or creating laws and rules, they inspire the masses and inspire the public to think about the ways they want their society to look.
Art is a part of every culture in the world in some form or another and has been around since the earliest cave paintings in Europe and Indonesia.
We are able to preserve these cultures and continue to learn more about them by looking at the art they produced.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and leader of the Indian independence movement, once said, “The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds.”
When we look at art, we are getting a genuine glimpse into the mind of a person that lived a life of hunting and gathering, pyramid building, wars, nation building or royal inaugurations.
These are displayed for the modern public to see each and every day, and as students we have to take advantage of that.
While Waco isn’t home to many places of ancient art, campus is home to the Martin Museum of Art, which periodically hosts exhibits. Armstrong Browning Library also hosts a plethora of sculptures, paintings and household items from the late 19th century.
However, ancient and medieval art can be found only an hour and a half away from campus.
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the country. It features art by Van Gogh, the Keir Collection of Islamic Art dating back to the 12th century, Arts of the Americas, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Pacific Islands and Europe as well as Classical Art. These exhibits host sculptures, paintings, bowls, homeware items and calligraphy all showing what day-to-day life and culture looked like in these ancient societies around the world.
They allow you to look face to face at the same piece of art that an ancient human once looked at in the same way.
Dallas is also home to the Museum of Biblical Art that holds ancient maps of Israel, tapestries, paintings and sculptures from the times that we often read about in the Bible. Physical, tangible evidence of the words we read and believe.
If you travel another hour out, you’ll reach Houston. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is one of the most beautiful places to witness ancient art from around the world.
As a frequent visitor of the museum, I have witnessed medieval European paintings and carvings from churches, sculptures by French artist Auguste Rodin, paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Greek pitchers with paintings of Herakles and Athena from 530 B.C. and beautifully crafted silk embroidery from the Ottoman empire, all in my hometown.
By looking at art from Greek antiquity, the ancient Ottoman empire, imperial China, the silk road or 16th century France to name only a few, we are looking into the cultures and events of a time that defined where we are today and what those ancient ways of thinking looked like.
The ability to peek at the past is only one of the many, many reasons why art is such a crucial part of our humanity, and why it should continue to be appreciated.
It is the closest thing we have to time travel and one of the closest things we have to feeling the emotions of a person who lived long before we, as an individual, were ever even an idea.