The Value of Art in Society, aka Skipping Stones

by Sharon Bechtold

My 8-year-old son recently asked me about jobs and our roles within society.

We spoke about his dad who is a fleet supervisor for the county sheriff and how he makes sure their cars function so they can protect us. We spoke about his brother who is with the National Guard and does his part to protect our nation. We spoke about his other brother who is involved in the alternative health field and works at educating the public about proper exercise and nutrition. We spoke about many family members who work as teachers, doctors, scientists, finance managers, and such.

Finally the question I dreaded most arrived… “Mom, how do you contribute to society? Is it because you make it prettier with your artwork?”

Hmmm. That seemed about right… but somehow felt hollow. Was that all my life was accomplishing? Was I just about making “pretty pictures”? Is all the sacrifice worth it? So I went to Spider and asked her. There she appeared in the corner of the room, a tiny black dot weaving her ever present webs.

After listening for the span of endless heartbeats, Mona Lisa’s smile flashed in my mind followed by this wisdom…

Art is more than a “pretty picture”. The “pretty picture” is only the tangible footprint that can be seen in the present. The true value of the artist’s endeavor lies in the vastness of the future.

Artists toss stones into the pond of possibilities. It is the ripples of energy that the art truly creates. Stories, pictures, music, dance, sculptures, performances… engage the emotions and imagination of society and like ripples in a pond… grow.

We may never live to see the results that our little stones stir up. But I know that it is my task and my mission to continue to create worthy stones to stir future possibilities.

So my answer is… “I am an artist and I dream the dreams that shape the future.”

My son smiles (he hopes to be a writer someday).

Thanks, Spider.

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As a third generation artist, Sharon Bechtold grew up around a variety of art materials, tools and the encouragement that have been instrumental to her development. After completing studies in commercial art, fine art, and photography, Sharon worked as a graphic designer in the family business. Her oil paintings, watercolors, and pyrographs, have won numerous awards and been represented by galleries throughout the Chicago area. Since 1988 she has taught art both at the adult level and children’s classes. Since 2000 she has devoted herself to Pyrography, developing her own unique style, based on classical art principles, in order to render a realistic image guided by inspiration. Visit Sharon’s website at www.sharonbechtold.com

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