Arts With Heart: Through the Ages, Creativity Has Provided a Shared Human Experience

More than 65,000 years after the first known cave painting was made, the arts still offer a joyful respite from everyday life.

Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

When Columbus Parent asked me to focus my column on the arts three years ago, I was honored and thrilled at such an opportunity. I have been amazed and fascinated by the arts for most of my life, and what a joy it is to be able to share such a special focus. So, when a reader asked me if it is difficult to sustain such a theme each issue, I had no problem explaining the depth of my passion.

I told her that basically, my columns are reminders, not lessons! I hope that they remind us of what we already know but may have, in this whirlwind era of technology, forgotten.

As many of us and our families and friends spend so much of our time with these amazing digital devices, it is really easy to forget that the arts are our oldest ways of communicating, expressing experiences, telling stories, exploring feelings, celebrating and honoring.

Let’s remember our ancient ancestors, living in caves, surviving in the elements and dangers of their everyday lives. I live in wonder! On every continent, every region of the earth, these predecessors of ours found ways to make paint, create instruments, choreograph dances and demonstrate storytelling. In recent years, scientists dated the oldest-known cave art, found in Spain, at 65,000 years old!

Imagine these people mixing paints, making brushes and covering the canvas of their caves and stones with beautiful images of animals, people, hands, hunts and symbols. What is it in the human DNA or imagination that inspired them to create such works, which we are lucky were preserved through thousands of years so we could discover and admire them—so we could understand their times and experiences? I almost don’t want to learn the answer, as the reality is so beyond belief. Perhaps while they were painting and printing on stone walls, making instruments and playing musical sounds, they were released from the stress of the frightening elements of everyday life. Maybe creating art was their only joyful time.

Fast forward to 2022, where my friend Michael Joel Rosen has been hibernating through this pandemic in his “cave” in rural Ohio. He has been making art—ceramics, collages, constructions and prints—nonstop for months.

Recently, he has been happy to share his works with some vaccinated and masked visitors. One day, friends came with their three children, ages 5, 7 and 9. The children were not happy to visit this unknown friend of their parents. Bored and disinterested in the adult conversations, they were ready to run from the house to their car and leave.

Michael began playing with clay and invited them to join him. Clay making turned into painting and printing. The three children were enchanted. The visit lasted over three hours, with the kids asking for more!

Today, 65,000 years after those first-known cave paintings, the arts are still a joyful place in the midst of stressful forces. Michael is an example of those who continue that special tradition.

Just as he shared his passion for art with his young guests, you can connect the enriching areas of life that you love for family and friends. Keep a little drawer or shelf filled with easy-to-use art materials, always ready to be part of the fun of discovery. Keep playing and making music. Tell stories. Sing songs. Read. Dance. Encourage others to open their minds and hearts to new experiences by setting a great example and being an inspiration to others. Celebrating our creativity is a gift that should not be forgotten. Let’s cherish it!

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 Spring 2022 issue of Columbus Parent.