“Creativity Takes Courage.” These words from artist Henri Matisse are full of wisdom. Great artists have long understood that in order to produce their very best work, they must be vulnerable. They must be willing to go places inside themselves, sometimes to allow themselves to feel feelings that are a bit uncomfortable.
Over the weekend I attended a new musical- VerbӦten. The music and lyrics were written by Roycemore alumnus, Jason Narducy ‘89, inspired by his life as a teenager. VerbӦten was the name of his band formed by Middle School students. Another member of the band was a Roycemore student and two others were from here in Evanston. The production explores the power of music to express emotions and also the importance of family, whether it is our biological family or our “adopted” family and friends. I first met Jason a couple of years ago when we introduced him to some of our own Middle School students who were focusing on music for their Personal Passion Projects. At that time, Jason had already been collaborating for three years with others to produce the musical. Creating this production took courage for Jason to share some very personal and difficult moments he experienced following his parents’ divorce and to lay bare the raw emotion that was felt during this pivotal time in his life. Yet this is the power of the arts. It is powerful for both the artist who explores their feelings and for the “consumers” of the art who are moved by it.
Arts in education is critical, not only to foster self-expression and understanding, but also to spark new ways of thinking. Virginia McEnerney, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers says, “Our contemporary economy depends and thrives on innovation and new ways of thinking about and seeing the world. This is exactly what arts education nurtures – young people who, through creative practice, develop the skill to imagine the world differently.” “In order to create change, students must first learn to create.” Art, be it visual art or performing art, provides new lenses to observe and think about the world. As this article in Edutopia outlines, art helps to boost self-confidence, helps people embrace failure as a part of the learning process (growth mindset), improves cognition, and advances communication skills.
Whether in drama class, music class, choir, improv club, art class, or instrumental music lessons, students at Roycemore have ample opportunity to explore aspects of themselves through artistic expression and education. We want our young people to be courageous and take artistic and academic risks in order to grow. Our belief is that every individual is multi-dimensional and we provide opportunities for students to learn about themselves and the world whether in history class or art class. Pablo Picasso said it well when he wrote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”