What's New

What's New

From History to Art

Arkansas Arts Council - Thursday, January 31, 2019

Art: “Red Balloon” by Paul Klee via Guggenheim


Artists are influenced by their surroundings, but we also inspire change. That’s why some of the best art schools ask art students to brush up on their history lessons. It turns out, understanding history is vital for becoming an influential artist.

Maybe you’re not a history buff, but there are plenty of reasons to delve into history.

  • 1. Knowing history helps artists understand people and societies. With that knowledge, artists understand how we, as a society, developed the way we did. Artists can then find new and expressive ways to challenge or support societal thoughts and values. Basically, knowing history helps artists communicate.
  • 2. History helps artists learn to tell their own stories. Artists are more than creative creatures. Artists must be able to tell their own stories as part of marketing their work and growing their successes. History, such as family or ethnic histories, also puts artists in contact with their family roots, which connects artists with their identities and leads to unique expressions.
  • 3. Build an audience with history. Whether artists use found objects or vintage photos, knowing the history behind those items – how they were used, where they came from – gives artists extra creative material. That history can engage audiences or change how the artist’s work is developed, treated and presented.
  • 4. Develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Those skills can translate into advocacy artwork, innovation in traditional media and an increase in artistic expression or experimentation.
  • 5. Perspectives matter in art, culture and society. Learning history is a great way to understand other people’s viewpoints and to learn to express your own.

We, at the Arkansas Arts Council, encourage and promote artists, their professional development and the arts in general. Local artists might not know it, but there are some extraordinary, free programs, services and events that touch on history and can help your art indirectly.

So, go learn about African Americans’ experiences in sports this Saturday at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Visit the Arkansas State Archives and research your family roots. Or come celebrate the Arkansas Territory bicentennial at the state Capitol this March and learn about life, culture and art in Arkansas 200 years ago.