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Letter: Why we should value art

The state is short of money so the schools are short of money. It won't be long before discussion comes around to what programs to cut.

Traditionally art has been the first to go. That might have made some sense once, if art was taught as just a frill with nice neato, keeno, take-home-to-Grandma, precious little projects. If it ever was.

However, if art is taught as a thinking skill, and taught well, and the current exhibition of student work at the WEAC certainly makes that case, then art is as important as any other subject. If you visit the exhibit you will see, hanging on the wall, thought, expressed in line, shape and color. This is a different kind of thought than you would see if the exhibit displayed math problems or science experiments, and that is the point.

The problems these young artists solve require what economists call "expert thinking -- solving new problems for which there are no routine solutions."

In his book, "A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brain Thinkers Will Rule the World," Daniel Pink describe a seismic shift under way in much of the advanced world away from the logical, linear, computer-like Information Age to an economy built on inventive, empathetic, big-picture thinking, the "Conceptual Age."

Pink says that as a society we are already in the art business; graphic designers outnumber chemical engineers four to one. "More Americans today work in the arts, entertainment, and design than work as lawyers, accountants and auditors." In fact, Pink says, one of the hottest credentials in the world is an MFA, a Master of Fine Arts. Why this is so, and its ramifications Pink elaborates in an interesting book, well worth reading.

In any case, it's a good exhibit, well displayed, showing serious thought and effort. If the future belongs to those who can use knowledge from one field, understanding of another, skills and techniques from a third to solve problems in a fourth, then maybe some of these young artists are on their way to rule the world... at least their part of it.

Dave Chase