Why is art important? Why is art important right now? Civilizations come and go, but what remains is what was created by artists. If a whole civilization is gone, sometimes all we have is a poem, or a beautiful urn. It is art that tells us the stories and suggests what was known and believed by those that came before us, and how they found meaning in their lives. It is art that helps us to find our place in the continuum of humanity, and to cultivate knowledge, wisdom and faith in our own lives and times.
Artists are the story tellers that bring the times in which they lived to life. If you want your experiences of the world to be remembered, be an artist, support other artists, and help others discover and learn to engage with and interpret the arts. The stories artists tell may not tell the whole story, but it is the stories that those artists did tell and that were somehow preserved that will provide a lens to the world in which they lived. It is in this manner that artists create an important understanding of recorded history and the legacy of cultures that came before us as we understand them.
There is power in the actor's gestures, the poet's words, the composer's notes, the artist's brush strokes. Learning how others before us found meaning helps us recognize universal truths that humanity has always struggled to find. It helps us to understand the differences between that which is revealed and that which remains hidden from our view. There is an opportunity for real joy in experiencing and studying the world through the vision of artists and in playing a part in the development of knowledge and wisdom through artistic curiosity and awe. Art provides a window to the soul.
As a member of your National Docent Symposium Council, it is my sincere desire to retain the rich wisdom and standards of our past leaders while also exploring new and meaningful paths which promote communication among and education of all of us as docents and guides in our current times. I look forward to seeking and identifying constructive ways for all of us to continue to share our ever-evolving understanding and love of art in our many diverse museums and other cultural institutions.