Why Study Art?

Last Thursday, it was my pleasure to open the student exhibition at Penrhos College, where I had been artist in residence earlier in the year.
I thought I would publish the body of my speech because many people outside of the arts are not aware of the benefits of studying art, even if you do not choose to be an artist. This was about studying art at high school, but you can start your journey into art at any stage of life. So here it is…
I loved art at school, and I studied Visual Art at Curtin University straight after leaving Penrhos. I have been an artist all my life, but not everybody who does art at school will make it their career.
So why study art? If you are not going to be an artist, why study it?
When you learn art, you learn more than how to make a drawing, a painting, a print or a sculpture.
You learn how to plan, organise and execute your idea. You learn how to follow through and finish what you started. You learn to do things out of your comfort zone.
You learn how to evaluate, you learn how to deal with problems as they arise, and you learn how to fail!
This is really important.
You cannot be creative unless you are prepared to fail. After you have failed; you learn how to deconstruct what happened and make the necessary changes. You learn how to be resilient, and that failure is just part of creativity. You gain confidence after turning failure around, making changes or even starting again, not giving up, doing it differently.
Art teaches all these lessons, life skills, which you will take into any career.
But don’t do art for these reasons. Take art because you love it, you love the feeling of being in flow, when it’s all coming together, when you lose track of time. When there is just you, the paper and the pencil and all the world has ceased to exist.
This is the real benefit.
And whatever career you do either in the arts or outside of the arts you can go to that place of making, and find peace in this crazy world. You can take that peacefulness, that

Bev Bell Head of Department, Arts Captain and Shana James

became part of you while you were making, out with you – into the world and to everything you do. Whatever you choose.