Art saves lives.
Simple words but easy to forget. Luckily, they’re plastered on Youth Spirit Artworks’ website. Optimistic and empowering murals grace the walls of the city of Berkeley, brightening residents’ days while their creators continue growing through an outlet meant to channel student creativity.
The organization works to reinforce the sentiment by providing an opportunity for low-income and homeless youth to express themselves through visual art.
Examples of organizations that empower young people abound in Berkeley. They are one of the most important parts of Berkeley’s dynamic and fascinating community. Meanwhile, UC Berkeley students slight the art that abounds in their very community — murals, plays, concerts, films, exhibits — too preoccupied with schoolwork to spare the local record store a passing glance.
In light of an election that left much of the Berkeley community reeling and feeling apocalyptic, however, the influence of art in everyday life cannot be overstated. The world revolves around more than Donald Trump’s latest cabinet disappointments: There’s a powerful movie about queer Blackness, “Moonlight,” gaining serious Oscar traction. There’s an Andy Warhol exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum.
As an empowering form of activism, various forms of creativity can provide the impetus for protests and grassroots movements.
But more importantly, the very purpose of artistic expression, whether it come in the form of a painting, a Netflix original series or a meme is to foster human connection and communication. After all, talking about the most recent episode of “Stranger Things” or Beyoncé’s best album creates productive and respectful discussion and disagreement — far more than any political conversation could.
And that’s the problem: Ideological disagreement ultimately reaches an impasse. Art can tackle ideology in a way that falls outside the realm of the liberal-conservative divide. Take late-night comedy, for instance. Using humor to appeal to mass audiences may not change minds, but it opens the door to productive discussion through mutual laughter.
But it’s not just the political nature of creative expression that makes it so important to humanity.
So many UC Berkeley students come into college having spent considerable time and energy honing musical, visual and literary skills, only to forget them as they hop on the conveyor belt of success: a train that values monetary gain above anything else.
Yet, as a national election reminds us of the fragility of both life and democracy, artistic expression takes on a new significance.
The fact that art manifests in so many forms only expands the scope of its importance. Artistic impression ranges from traditional landscapes rendered on a canvas to nontraditional yet empowering forms of peaceful political disobedience. Every person can create, express and enjoy unique and personal forms of art. Taking advantage of this encompassing and beautiful aspect of humanity oftentimes makes the difference between being robotic automatons and imperfect humans.
Read, live, laugh, love. And remember, no amount of oppression can quench the creative spirit.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.