CSU reacts: Is art education important?

Nick Botkin

The arts are for starving people in berets. Right?

A musician plays a harp
Students at CSU see the arts as more than notes and theories on a page (Photo courtesy of Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

Well, the answer is no, yes and maybe, according Colorado State University students who have a variety of opinions about taking arts classes.

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Amber Gant is a junior fish, wildlife and conservation biology major at CSU. Gant took a music appreciation class, which exposed her to music’s venerable history.

Although she has more of a “science brain,” her conceptions of music have significantly changed, Gant said.

“There is a lot more to music than what we think,” Gant said.

While Gant has a positive experience, she does not necessarily think the arts are for everyone.

“It depends on the person,” Gant said.

 For other students, the arts have significantly shaped their worldviews.

 Claire Grubb, a senior nutrition major, took an art history class. Grubb was able to apply what she learned while traveling in New Orleans. She was able to identify to the kinds of buildings and their styles.

“With the architecture, a lot of people can’t see the beauty,” Grubb said. “Beauty makes people happy.”

 Students can significantly benefit from taking such classes, Grubb said.

“I think it’s good to offer them,” Grubb said. “Just having the opportunity for exposure, giving people the opportunity to appreciate.”

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Other students believe that art class are beneficial.

“I think it gives you an appreciation for the world and broadens horizons,” said Sarah Archuleta, a senior sociology and political science major who took Art 100.

“It made me think more about things we see in our everyday lives,” Archuleta said.

There are cerebral benefits of arts classes, Archuleta said.

“People who utilize art have minds that think outside the box,” Archuleta said.

For others, the arts play an even more vital role in human thinking.

“Arts illuminate the human experience,” said Natalie Russell, a senior interdisciplinary liberal arts major.

Russell wants to work in a medical field, but greatly appreciates her exposure to the arts. Unlike the sciences, the arts allow people to be exposed to more diversity of thought, she said.

“You get to come into contact with interesting people,” Russell said. “It gives you a different way of engaging with the world.”

Plus, the arts develop thinking skills, she said.

“It’s good to learn how to analyze things critically,” Russell said.

Russell is currently taking a poetry workshop with Matthew Cooperman.  Russell said that in workshop students  submit their original poetry, as well as critiquing their peers’ work.  In addition, students are also required to attend poetry readings.

“You are not just creating work,” Russell said, “but understanding and analyzing it.”

Seth Nice is a senior ecosystem science and sustainability major. As a result of his music appreciation class, Nice has developed an appreciation for jazz. He is also exploring blues music.

“It broadened my thinking and my creativity in terms of openness,” Nice said.

 Nice looks at music beyond mere notes on a page.

“I respect the history behind it…as well as the freedom to interpret,” Nice said.

 Of course, with the arts come negative perceptions as well. 

“If you go to business school, people correlate the arts with low educational value,” Nice said.

Despite its benefits, art has stereotypes surrounding it that may discourage students from participation.

“Even for me, I associate arts with people who dress quirky and have quirky worldviews,” Russell said.

Some think the arts are less vigorous then other academic fields.

“People think it is the easy way to go,” Archuleta said.

 So why engage in the arts then?

“Anyone can grow with their engagement,” Russell said. “Everyone should be in touch with the arts.”

Upcoming performance:

What: Handel’s “Xerxes”.

Where: University Center For The Arts, Griffin Concert Hall

When: October 26–29.

Collegian news reporter Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @dudesosad