Arts With Heart: Imagine All the Things That Would be Lost in a World Without Art

From Aminah Robinson to Vincent van Gogh to Winnie the Pooh, think of the inspiring and uplifting experiences we would miss.

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

Driving around town, you might see me behind the wheel of an old, green Toyota splashed with bumper stickers. Well-selected, they convey big ideas in few words.

I love all of my bumper stickers, such as: Children Are Worth It, Teachers Are My Heroes, Love One Another, Humankind–Be Both. Probably the one that elicits the most response from onlookers is The World Without Art Is Just “Eh!”

Recently, as I was walking to my car from Kroger, a woman was reading my bumper. She told me she agreed with all of them but The World Without Art really touched her.

“I can’t imagine,” she said, “an earth without art, without the arts.”

We chatted for a while, imagining a world without the arts and thought of people and things that would not have existed. My list included: Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, the New York Philharmonic, Aminah Robinson, Winnie the Pooh, Toni Morrison, Peanuts, folk dancing, Vincent van Gogh, Seinfeld, the Columbus Museum of Art, “Hamilton,” Billy Collins, Otis Redding, libraries, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nat King Cole, the Ohio Arts Council, Hans Christian Andersen, “Little Women,” the Cultural Arts Center, OhioDance and Gordon Lightfoot. And this was just the disorganized, uncategorized beginning of a list that, if finished, could fill a whole magazine.

The items I ticked off during that chance encounter were just the start of a long list of arts experiences, events and artists that have infused my life with joy, inspiration, courage and appreciation.

I would love to see everyone start their own such list and keep adding to it. Just imagine the world without the arts, which enrich our time on earth, touch our hearts, awaken our senses and inspire our imaginations. Every list would be completely unique and as original as its creator, because we are all original and unique individuals.

In this stressed time of COVID-19 as well as local, national and world pressures and challenges, we must all be vigilant and strong in supporting the arts in education, in our communities and in our country.

It is easier than ever nowadays for schools and other organizations to hit “delete” on a budget line item and cut arts programming and projects, diminish arts experiences for children and even close the doors of galleries, museums or theaters. Speak up. Speak out. Speak for the arts. We need the arts, and the arts need us!

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld is a longtime Columbus arts educator and author who works with children of all ages and encourages them to become creative, lifelong learners.

This story is from the Winter 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.