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The Value of Arts effect on Culture and Adolescence

Cassandra Spencer
Global Connections
Instructor: Mr. Falls
December 4, 2015


There is evident knowledge of a relationship between art and culture. This relationship
can be interpreted from many angles but this research paper focuses on the importance of how
cultural influences play a significant role in the variations of art and why it is important to not
only embrace this during its most vital stage, childhood (defined as infancy to adolescence), but
that one may also take advantage of a globalizing world and share the knowledge of his or her
individualities with one another to improve the unity and global networking of this Earth.
The Value of Arts effect on Culture and Adolescence
The world is constantly growing and changing. Throughout history war has come and go,
technology has gone from the wheel to the smart phone, and the population has sky rocketed to
an incredible seven billion human beings. Although the life of the human race is rapidly
changing, there are two things that have always been consistent art and culture. Variations
constantly existent in art and culture, but it is amazing that these two aspects in life have always
remained intact.
Art is dependent on culture, as culture is dependent on art. The two coincide and
intervene to form the hundreds of styles of art and thousands of cultures that are present
throughout history. From the beginning of the creative human mind, art has been influenced by
culture. Cavemen would paint themselves hunting for wild animals and the ancient Egyptians
would depict their emperors and Godly figures; art was a way for these people to express
tradition and passion, just as it is still done today. Globalization is taking shape to cultures, but
that does not mean art is not still an important, influential aspect of these changes. Art and


culture will naturally continue to share this relationship for centuries and is evident at a very
young age in life, even though it may not be noticeable.
There are many ways in which art contributes to culture and society in general. Not only
does being creative shape the values, beliefs, and customs within a community, but it opens the
mind to greater levels of personal, social, and ecological well-being within an individual and
within a culture. Art is about innovation and ingenuity; it can be used to better cultural issues and
understand social boundaries. It can even improve an economy; planting gardens, creating a
music scene, building galleries and studios can all be ways to stimulate a countrys economy. Art
is imbedded in the intelligent life of human beings and in their culture, it is beneficial to the one
and beneficial to the many, the two will always affect the other and can be used to improve ways
of living and how one interact with the rest of the world. As cultures continue to intertwine and
as technology continues to grow, one may also grow in artistry and become educated on how to
apply this to the globalization of the diverse world and how to promote these values at the most
valuable age, infancy to adolescence.


The need to create has always existed as part of the human condition, with the oldest
artworks dating as early as 45,000 when Homo sapiens migrated from Africa to Europe (MorrissKay, 2010). Most of the pieces at this time consisted depictions of men hunting animals, men
killing men, and other means of brutal survival. With time, the subject of these images broadened
to include a variety of symbols and representations for their way of living as a whole, for
example, exposing mothers as nurturers (LikeFilms, 2011). Once civilizations began to develop
significantly so did the several different styles of ancient art, including influences from
Mesopotamia, Rome, Egypt, Greece, India, and China. Factors such as geography, newly
forming religions, political/social practices, and available resources altered the way each
civilization expressed their ways of living, in other words, their culture (Art Through Time: A
Global View, 2015). A vast amount of this ancient art was devoted to the worship of one or many
gods that protected them and/or provided them with means for survival, shifting from a more
literal means of expression to one with more symbolic means.
In the Middle Ages, the West was dominated by the Catholic church, eliminating the
acceptance of many gods and focused on the belief of only one god. Historical shifts such as this
affected the more fantastical elements of religious arts, banning popular figures such as the
Ganesha, an eight limbed elephant traditionally recognized in Hinduism (LikeFilms, 2011). The
focus eventually became the Bible, with detail and realism being a key element. This realistic
style was even more significant during the succeeding era of the Renaissance. Eastern art
continued to grow in its own distinct way, being that realism was not as important as revealing
traditional subjects such as nature, writing, and every-day activities such as manual labor
(Likefilms, 2011).


Eventually comes Modern Art, branching into impressionism, expressionism, cubism,
dadaism, surrealism, and more; the subjects of interests become infinite. This new age of wonder
is the product of advancements in knowledge of the scientific universe and modernization of
theologies throughout the world (Likefilms, 2011). Humans were not only thinking about their
survival when it came to art anymore, they had come a long ways away. Modern art has
developed into an expressive outlet for not only ones culture but for the individual, artists are
more powerful and opinionated than they have ever been before. Art has been a medium
through which people have not only documented, but also shaped historyArt can
commemorate existence, achievements, and failures, and it can be used to record and create
communal as well as personal memories (Art Through Time: A Global View, 2015).
The arts impact the community economically, culturally, and socially. Economically, the
arts field creates several branches of work, extending from teaching art to selling art to being a
computer animator or graphic designer to being the janitor in an art museum. Both tourists and
locals involvement in a business in the entertainment industry will continuously stimulate the
economy resulting in the pay received by the employees. These positive results Increases
propensity of community members to participate in the arts and Increases attractiveness of area
to [future investments] (Guetzkow, 2002).
Culturally, art increases a sense of identity in a community. There is a strong feeling of
pride that may be very stylistic to that culture, leading to positive interactions such as an
acceptance for diversity, tolerance, and free expression. Guetzkow of Princeton University also
states, communities with a high focus on the arts have a continuously improving status and
image due to this sense of unity (2002).


Socially, art naturally allows people to become involved in their community by
connecting organizations to each other and by gaining personal experience and valuable skills in
any community-based event, working with local government or nonprofits. Art engages people to
come together in situations which they might not otherwise come into contact with each other,
these can include art classes, fairs, craft shows, auctions, carnivals etc. It promotes a culturally
diverse area, reducing neighborhood crime and delinquency (Guetzkow, 2002).
Art will also impact the individuals cognitive/psychological well-being, physical health,
and his/her interpersonal self, especially during the most vital stages of development (infancy to
adolescence). Mentally, art increases a sense of individual efficacy and self-esteem (Guetzkow,
2002), improving ones sense attachment/connection to a community. Naturally this will
contribute to improvements in academic performance and cultural involvement due to the feeling
of belonging. Skills such as visuospatial reasoning and general creative abilities will enhance
without notice (Guetzkow, 2002).
Physically (after the body witnesses and builds previously mentioned psychological
improvements), the individual will find themselves more eager to do community-involved
activities such as volunteering, which statistically improves several health factors (Watson,
2013). Self-expression will result in enjoyment, reducing delinquency in high-risk youth. During
each additional year of arts study [is] significantly associated with a 20% reduction in
the likelihood that an adolescent would ever be suspended out-of-school students of the
arts are significantly more optimistic about their chances to attend college than non-arts


students Visual arts students reported significantly higher levels of school attachment
than did non-visual arts students (Elpus, 2013).
The body will have increased opportunities for enjoyment and relief of stress, resulting in the
individuals increased likelihood that he/she is to be involved in the arts (Guetzkow, 2002).
Interpersonal skills, how one interact with others, will be similarly effected in how
cognitively it builds individual social networks, enhancing the ability to work with others and
communicate ideas and increasing the tolerance of others, which is a valuable life skill to obtain
before adulthood (Guetzkow, 2002).
Culture still plays a key role in how we create. Even though artist are far from ancient art,
and globalization has drastically changed the world, traditional styles are still very existent even
amongst child who subconsciously create artwork influenced by their culture. Adolescents
develop unique belief systems through their interaction with social, familial, and cultural
environments. The attitudes that a culture holds on a particular topic can have impacts on
adolescent development (Cultural and Societal Influences on Adolescent Development, 2015).
These impacts are what create variations amongst not only how one draws or paints but how one
acts in general. During childhood (infancy to adolescence), culture will affect the childs sense of
independence, moral differences, their ego, and maybe even make them curious about other
cultures, especially if that culture is regularly engaged in everyday life (Verial, 2013). These
factors are naturally evident in how one expresses himself or herself visually. It is important to
have a developed connection to culture, as it creates a sense of identity and purpose, but should
not limit anyone to thinking less innovatively because there is great value that comes with not
only embracing ones culture but having an open mind that is wanting to learn about other


cultures (Zhang, 2015). This moral will apply to other things in life such as appreciating all
styles of art and better problem solving (confrontational) skills.
It is important to both embrace ones own culture and also share that knowledge with
someone from a different culture, and in return learn from them. This is possible through peer
learning. At the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson (the founder), believed that learning
from one another was so important that he required the teachers to live in their teaching facility
so that there may always be an available resource for learning from actual human interaction (S,
2015). Socrates was a Greek philosopher who strongly believed in a system where the students
learned from open-ended discussion and facilitated themselves (Filkins, 2015). Especially
because culture is a personally specific topic, this style of learning is necessary. Cultural tension
is often caused by miscommunication or misunderstanding, but by allowing ourselves to learn
beyond that barrier, it is easier to see where the solution lies. It is important that we continue to
make art that reflects our community and more so our individual selves so that others may
receive a better understanding of our own beliefs and morals; these results can best be formed at
a younger age, during our childhood, when humans are more susceptible to accepting new ideas
and are eager to be creative and innovative.


There are an infinite amount of variables that play into how culture may affect art but
they all commonly express the value of embracing all cultures and learning from their history.
From the dawn of man to modern day, art has been a form of documentation of ones own beliefs
and lifestyles, its helped the bodies and minds of individuals develop in more ways than one,
effecting everyone in communities: economically, culturally, and socially. Knowing how
significant it is to life, it is of great importance that children (stages between infancy and
adolescence) learn to become artistically involved in their cultures and identity, but also stay
open minded to new ideas, so that when they age to adulthood, they may apply these values to
their everyday life, having a better tolerance and understanding of cultures or beliefs that do not
match their own.



To begin the research, It was important to hone in on three broad subjects and then
specifically look for information that combined these art, culture, and adolescence. Online
research for articles, research papers, and websites gave a vast background of the history and
importance of art and culture. After finding several sources, the next step was to connect these
two topics to benefits in adolescent development.
There was a significant and fairly equal amount of qualitative and quantitative data, and a
number of statistics had listings of the effects of art in a community and the possible benefits that
can be obtained at an early age. The quantitative research also included a section of a charts and
diagrams in a recent work paper series done by Princeton University. A number of books,
ranging from 50 years old to 5 years old all consistently supported the thesis, giving the research
paper a plentiful amount of qualitative knowledge. Books as well as online articles were the main
source of qualitative data, and although not as compacted with information, several teachers
resources and videos helped give a better understanding of the topic, as well as how to deliver
this information.
The research began in the Tallwood High School library, using the search engines
available to the school, but continued in the Tidewater Community College library center where
the use of a library card allowed the number of research methods to be expanded. This was
extremely useful as TCC had more advanced scholarly work available. Besides using these two
libraries as a facility to find information, a lot of the research was found through the use to the
internet alone and through primary sources such as interviews with Lao shir Zhang, which



became an extremely valuable reference to have, as she had relations to China and her sister who
is currently living in China, studying fine arts.
By administering an interview to lao shir Zhang she helped the research gain a more
personal perspective and also was able to support a lot of the information that had already
previously been found. Not only does she have a different cultural perspective than an
Americans, but she was also able to distribute several facts that would have been much more
difficult to receive from a website or newspaper. It was the first step in understanding the
research from a deeper, more personal understanding. A majority of the Chinese related data and
references contained in the research comes from a direct source because of a series of meetings
with lao shir Zhang, and after exploring a multitude of research methods, original data is by far
the most beneficial for the research of cultures reflection on art.



Literature Review
Several web pages were significant to the ground research of my study. The practice of
the arts especially that influenced by ones own culture is valuable during adolescent
development. The Arts and Culture study at MSU (2015) states that art is about crossing
boundaries and seeing things in different ways. It can be a carrier for public discussion,
understanding social issues, and building social connections. Through participation and political
action, citizens can shape their community to better reflect their values. There is a study by
Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, proving that children who are more involved in artsbased community programs outside of the school environment were more likely to do better in
school academically and socially. These sources were webpages that gave precise pinpointed
information about the topic and often gave links or references to other useful research papers or
articles. Another aspect to the research was understanding that interacting with people from
diverse cultures helps foster learning. (Learning to Live Together: Learning from other cultures
2010). Promoting global awareness and understanding is a valuable piece to creating a more
successful, better connected world, and this can be done through art. Pieces of artwork can
strongly reflect the time period and origin of which they came from; education of the differences
and similarities between cultures art can account for a better globally connected world.
A significant source of quantitative research was retrieved in the many articles used to
support the research. Very prestigious schools completed working paper series specifically about
how the arts impact communities. The Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton
University, by Joshua Guetzkow, contained several charts and statistics of the economic, cultural,
and social impacts on the community as well as the physical, cognitive, and psychological
interpersonal impacts on the individual. Official government sources such as a study prepared for



the European Commission (Directorate-General for Education and Culture) and the Art and the
Adolescent study done by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador are strong sources as
well, as they are the controlled by dependable researchers. Another great project ran by the
government, Arts Education and Positive Youth Development: Cognitive, Behavioral, and Social
Outcomes of Adolescents who Study the Arts by Kenneth Elpus, was completed at the University
of Maryland stating that there are measurable pre-existing differences between those
adolescents who do and do not choose to study the arts in schools. Supporting details included
students studying art have a 20% less chance of ever be suspended out-of-school and are
significantly more optimistic about their opportunities to go to college than non-arts students.
After searching for and collecting a majority of the information from the internet and data
bases, the next source to tackle was the exploration of books, which later revealed to be the
widest range of information by date, ranging from 55 years old to 12 years old. It narrowed down
to three books to pull from, all containing analyzations of the research question from a different
perspective. The main question to address is how culture affects art, revealing that several factors
including religion, authority, tradition, and style are thrown into question. (Greenberg, C. (1961).
Art and culture; critical essays. Boston: Beacon Press.) After finding several of different sources
coming to the same conclusion, it was necessary to find how art and culture affects adolescent
development, which can be found in Culture and Human Development by Jaan Valsiner, written
in 2000. Growing up in a world that is rapidly experiencing globalization, it was important to
learn more about the significance of countries sharing and blending cultures. A book stated the
importance of peer learning and value of learning from other cultures and from students in other
countries. Humans are culturally groomed to think and behave in certain ways from the time they
are babies, this influences perspectives on problems, solutions, ideas, beliefs, and morals.



(Peterson, B. (2004). Cultural intelligence a guide to working with people from other cultures.
Yarmouth, Me.: Intercultural Press.) This impacts and differentiates our style and form of art,
which one can then learn from one another.
The most important data completed by far was the original research, the primary source, a
completed interview with Wan Zhang, a Chinese teacher in the Virginia Beach school system.
Not only was she able to give extensive background information about the Chinese culture but
was also familiar with Chinese calligraphy, a traditional form of art in China. Zhang revalidated
the sources used for this paper with information already read about in previous documents but
also provided new information along with a more personal perspective and understanding of the
topic. Zhang made it possible to reach more reliable sources in China, which was an excellent
outlet because part of the research includes learning from other cultures and countries. Given the
opportunity to talk to art students in college from China, I was receiving a primary understanding
of how culture can affect art especially in the early years of human development.



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