Appreciating art mediums

Tegan Johnson

Recognizing value of unfamiliar forms


Even though I don’t understand music, I still love listening to it.
Live music is a fun, special experience and so is finding new music. I love hearing about the bands others are interested in, and even if I haven’t heard of an artist my friends love, I want to hear the music that makes them so happy.
The thing is, I don’t know anything about music. I can’t sing, I’ve never played an instrument and I can’t read sheet music — none of the fundamental aspects of music make any sense to me. I don’t know any of the technical terms, and I’m almost certain that I’m tone deaf.
I don’t know why I like what I like, but I know that it takes a lot of skill to produce such beautiful art. I greatly appreciate the artists and bands who make these beautiful sounds, but I can’t understand how they were made.
However, someone who plays an instrument can appreciate the effort put into a performance.
They know intimately the work it takes to practice and remember the intricacies of their instrument, and they understand the desperation to hit every note.
I can only imagine these feelings.
Even though I am clueless as to the specific efforts it takes to produce music, I can still admire the sound.
I can love the art and I can talk about my love for the art, even if I won’t be able to fully comprehend it.
However, there is an art I do understand.
I’ve been a dancer since I was three. I started out with ballet, and I added other styles like jazz and tap later on.
I still remember the basics and as I advanced in my classes, I learned about more complicated steps.
I may not be a professional dancer, or a prima ballerina, but I see dance performances differently than I hear musical performances.
I can recognize the steps and the moves that are extremely difficult, and I revere the dancers who can successfully accomplish them.
I understand how complicated it is to move around the other dancers, to keep your costume and hair in place, hold your face in a neutral position, all the while keeping time and hitting every move.
The energy it takes to make every move fluid and strong is something I understand and I feel empathy for the dancers who finish as strong as they begin.
You might feel the same way I feel about dance about another type of art.
Most people have an art form that they’re interested in or a medium they can relate to.
If you’re in choir, you might hear performances differently than those who don’t sing.
If you’re a painter, you can better appreciate the work of other artists because you understand their skill. If you’re a photographer, you can see why an image is so impressive because you know the exact skill and technique that created it.
On the other hand, there are some art forms you may not make sense of.
Just like I understand dance, you may understand music.
But just like I can’t fully appreciate music, you may not completely appreciate dance.
There are so many incredible and unique art forms, and we all can’t possibly have absolute knowledge of each one.
Therefore, we must appreciate that artists pour a great deal of energy into their craft, and we must respect their talents and achievements.
Everyone’s art is unique, and we must place importance on art outside of our own experience.
You may not understand the skill of someone’s art, but it is important to appreciate the effort put in by the artist.
We need to take talent outside of our own capabilities just as seriously as the skills we do understand.
Everyone has different strengths, and the creations of other should be respected.
To do this, we should seek out unfamiliar art. Look at it, feel it, listen to it, watch it — then show how you feel.
If something about it piques your interest, tell the artist, your friends and others admiring the art. Think about why you like it, and consider how you can more thoroughly engage with the art.
If something about it just makes you shy away, that’s okay too. You don’t have to force yourself to do anything.
Above all, we should be open to new ideas and new ways of artistic expression. We should all admire art even if we don’t understand it.