Reactions to Art / by Jeannine Cook

I have previously talked in this blog about the organisation, The Art Connection, in Boston. They accept artists' donations and then enable non-profits to obtain art for their walls. I have been working with The Art Connection for some time now, because I think it is a very worthwhile cause and is good both for artists and people who otherwise might not be able to see original art that could be uplifting and healing.

In a summer e-newsletter I received from The Art Connection, they included the following piece about reactions to art by participants who were selecting art for their agency. I found it interesting, and it is revealing in many ways. I quote it verbatim, with acknowledgement to The Art Connection editors.

"57% identified that participating in the (art selection) process was a challenge. The reasons why:

- It was challenging because it was hard to make choices when there were so many good pictures to choose from!
- It was challenging because there were a lot of beautiful choices and we could not take them all!
- It was challenging because choosing art specifically for the agency is different from choosing art based simply on personal preference.
- It was challenging because different people like different things and there were a lot of opinions in the room.
- It was challenging because there were too many to choose from!

Top three identified reasons for selecting artwork : Colour, Content/theme and Visually stimulating.

Participants also shared their interesting, and sometimes surprising, thoughts on what impact they think the art will have:

- The art will improve morale and stimulate dialogue; and hopefully impact our reputation to some extent too.
- The patients will love the art and the center will also be recognised for its unique art style.
- The art will help the building have an amazing welcoming aura.
- Homeless people deserve great art as much as anyone! It will create self-esteem and respect for the home.
- I think the clients will have a sense of pride living in a program with such beautiful artwork.
- Each piece can evoke a different reaction from different individuals. I personally think the artwork will add beauty, and get students and staff talking, whether they like the art pieces or not."

The reactions expressed in these responses to The Art Connection during the art selection process really seem to run the full gamut of reactions that the general public has to art. I have watched similar reactions during art exhibitions as well. It all underscores for me that art is really, really important in people's lives, whether they realise it or not. Art is a reflection of the health of a society, and as such, should not be short-changed in the name of economic hardship.