Saving the Appreciation of Art

Every Tuesday and Thursday I take a break from the monotony of my core courses and required language classes and spend an hour and 15 minutes listening to the ins and outs of movie-making. This introductory class in the film studies department is a great course for the simple reason that it’s fun. My professor is hilariously awkward, the projects are easy and entertaining, and the textbook has a picture of Heath Ledger on the cover, for crying out loud. Last Tuesday, my professor begged all 50 people in the lecture hall to declare a film studies minor so that, in his words, “the film department doesn’t get swallowed up by communication. . . . That’s the future that all the small, artsy-fartsy departments are headed toward.” It was a joke, mostly. I got the distinct impression, however, that he was really crying, “Save us!,” and all I could think about was how unfair that is, since film, art, and music save people all the time.

Boston College is a melting pot of students from all over the world. There are athletes from the South who have never seen snow and want to study classics, girls who have spent their whole lives in the state of Massachusetts and are counting the days until they can study abroad in Spain, international students who speak three languages and have to fly more than 10 hours just to get home, and approximately 9,320 other unique stories on this campus. So, other than a love for BC and—hopefully—learning, what can possibly connect us?

I firmly believe the answer is art. I don’t mean the serious Renaissance paintings of miserable-looking people holding fruit and crying that are hanging in the MFA. No, I’m talking about the Mission Impossible franchise (I mean, Tom Cruise can be considered art, right?), Ariana Grande, and Grey’s Anatomy. The things we pay attention to when we just want to relax. These things aren’t mentioned on campus as a bonding method, but they are the invisible thread that holds us all together. They create the atmosphere that we have the pleasure of living in here at BC. How many times have you made a friend by connecting over a love for Game of Thrones? John Mayer’s new album? Excitement for the release of Crazy Rich Asians? OLs and RAs and all the other acronyms on campus can give rousing speeches and force us to play Ships and Sailors all they want, but nothing connects people more than the realization that they love the same thing.

Pablo Picasso said that “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Granted, he was a little crazy. But I think he was on to something. In my last column, I wrote about the balance between enjoying life and preparing for it, and this is in part what I meant. Life is hard and being a student is stressful, but everything seems less impossible when you and your friends are crowded around a small TV laughing at Anne Hathaway and swooning over Chris Pine in The Princess Diaries 2. Something someone thought of thousands of miles away in the backroom of a studio can soothe your soul and actually make your life more fun. Now, isn’t that just as impactful and powerful as the ups and downs of the stock market?

This week, pay attention to the things that make you smile. How many of them had to be created by someone who studied one of those lost arts? We only have great books and movie franchises and music records because there are people who spend their time thinking them up, and that’s just as valid of a vocation as anything else.

People who major in film studies, art history, English, music, theatre, or anything else that doesn’t directly correlate to graduate studies and a stable career may not save lives in an operating room or make millions from their penthouse—however, they will make a difference. They will go on to draw up building plans for the city center you’ll love to visit in 10 years. They will write the column in The New York Times you’ll start your Sundays reading. They will score the movie soundtrack you’ll be saving on Spotify after walking out of a movie theater. These people will make small differences in our lives that eventually add up to who we are. It’s not brain surgery, but it is important.

So, take an art class for fun instead of just dragging yourself to your Drawing 1 class for the art core. Visit the MFA and go to Starbucks with your friends afterward to talk about what you saw. Go to the movies instead of illegally binge-watching the Marvel Universe on 123movies. Learning to consciously appreciate something that impacts your life is how we train ourselves not to take anything for granted. In relation to the arts, it’s a small shift, but it will make a difference in the way you live and act. Every day we are saved and encouraged by the arts. It’s time we save them back.

Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor