Universiti Malaya – Wales

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By Shawal Ras

Noted by the many cave paintings dated millions of years ago, art has been a way for humans to tell their stories, to interact with people around them, and to express their feelings and expressions. Arts inspires society to flourish, to cope, and overcome revolutions. Just look at the Dark Age (or the Renaissance), art was the beacon of hope for society back then; every stroke of a brush defined the person’s hardship in life, every colour defined the person’s fulfilment of love.

Suffice to say, art is a very important aspect of any society.

Here at IUMW, we see students freely expressing their individuality through art. From their choice of hair colour to their fashion style – every student gets to be their best selves, while searching for themselves.

Visual Communication, one of the classes taught under the Faculty of Communication, Arts & Media (FCAM), teaches students the importance of design in catering to today’s individualistic market demand. Students were recently given an assignment to create their very own shoe design. By incorporating their own life, culture and stories to the creativity process, the students were able to visualize the perfect design that understood the needs from the perspective of current market trends, while also balancing their own personal style at the same time.

Despite the focus on science and technology developments by governments across the world, art remains equally important in society today; even if often overlooked. Here are four reasons why arts should remain a priority in modern day life:

Art is a Part of Our Natural Behaviour
Just like language is a natural behaviour of expressing oneself, so is art. When children are young, they draw to express themselves. They try to draw something creative that reflects their thought process. In the medical industry, the insiders often use arts to get their patients, especially those with mental health issues, to converse.

Art is a Channel for Communication
There are thousands of languages all around the world. Despite not understanding a particular language, one can use art to express whatever they need to say. Popular culture, even things like the current meme trend, are also considered as a language nowadays whereby they use images, clips, and GIFs as a way to communicate expressively.

Arts Allows Us to Express Our Identity
When you look at the paintings made in caves and rocks by the people of yesteryear, it gives us an insight about their culture and behaviour. So, art is a form of preserving culture. It reflects a society’s beliefs and cultural values. This is true not just of paintings, but also traditional costumes, tribal tattoos, and so many more.

Art Brings Money
People visit many places because of art, like the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers or the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Art doesn’t only mean expensive canvas drawing (the Mona Lisa, anyone?); architecture and sculptures are also considered art. The iconic glass-made Louvre, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Statue of Liberty, and so many more iconic structures – they draw millions of tourists to a country, contributing to the ever-important, multi-trillion dollar tourism industry.

So whilst the world focuses on the vast advances and developments in science and technology, and we all get caught up in this digital age, let us not forget to take a step back every now and then; slow things down, and appreciate the beauty in the art that surrounds us.