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Wayne Wile: Art appreciation betters society

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Image of opening ceremonies of Cayman Islands museum

Photo Courtesy of the Author

Art has been described as the colourful by-product of human creativity and a bastion for the artistic spirit. Famed and beloved artist Pablo Picasso once said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Art also serves as a modern relic, showcasing periods of the past and documenting the present for future enjoyment. Exposure to art is especially important for children as a way for them to develop intellectually, while inspiring their natural creativity.

“It’s good to let kids express themselves through art at a younger age so that they can do it when they are older,” said Shannon York, cultural specialist at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tulsa. “Art is communication – it’s just like a language, so it’s good to encourage it at a young age, because people who didn’t get it as a child don’t have it as an adult, and usually wish they did.”

Art, in its various forms, is also a cultural map. For those who can’t travel the world, art shows, exhibits and galleries showcasing international pieces is the next best thing. International exhibitions help to bridge cultural gaps and foster empathy about world issues.

Numerous studies have also proven exposure to creative arts can help students become better learners.

“Creating art may boost young children's ability to analyze and problem-solve in myriad ways,” says Mary Ann Kohl, author of Primary Art: It's the Process, Not the Product.

In smaller communities, art centres serve as communal spaces for learning, sharing and meeting.  In the Cayman Islands, for instance, the National Gallery serves a variety of community functions, in addition to exhibiting wonderful works of art. The Caribbean art centre supports arts initiatives around the community and also happens to be a gathering space for the young and old in the community to enjoy artistry and craft.

The National Gallery hosts a variety of events year round for community members to enjoy and participate in. This past February, the Gallery hosted a Garden Lunch and Guided Tour. Assistant Curator Kerri-Anne Chishlom led the tour and described the cultural relevance of the EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean exhibition.

Island resident and gallery supporter Wayne Wile spends time volunteering with the National Gallery’s youth-focused art programs. Wayne Wile and his wife are part of a larger group of residents who are passionate about making sure that the Cayman Islands continues to enjoy rich cultural centres like the National Gallery.

“Sharing art with the younger generation is a powerful gift that lasts a lifetime,” explained Wayne Wile. “I think it’s especially important in small communities like ours, where cultural access points can sometimes feel limited.”

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands also is home to collections by aspiring local artists. Most recently, the gallery hosted the international traveling exhibition EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean. The event, which was led by six local committee members from the Butterfield Young Patrons’ Circle (BYPC), was billed as an evening of, “epic exhibition, expert led tours, great music, and more,” by committee member and organizer Rich Dyer.

Art has been described as a wordless language that is understood universally. It’s one of the few things that embodies the power to move, inspire and evoke emotion. As author Henry David Thoreau once famously quipped, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” It's very uplifting to learn that centres like the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands are promoting community enrichment and are helping to cultivate childrens' imaginations. 


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