A community fine arts center

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In recent decades the arts have been neglected. We are only now beginning to re-instate them, and give them the importance they deserve, the importance they have had in some of the past great ages of mankind. In the last 100 years especially, we have been so dazzled by the spectacular achievements of science, so absorbed in its complexity and ramifications, that we have slighted the arts, leaving them to the few people who had some special drive or talent. In education they have been treated too often as minor frills. Education has concentrated on the sciences, and on the practical-sounding subjects requiring only verbal literacy. Literacy in music and in the visual arts has been allowed to decay, to our very great loss. Too many of us don't know how to hear, how to see. Indeed, too many of us hardly know how to feel. We have over-emphasized the more abstract, rational processes of the mind, at the expense of the creative imagination, the insights and perceptions which the arts provide. We have developed the head and starved the heart. We see and admire all around us the achievements of science. But we are uneasily aware that science is a neutral force - it can destroy as well as build. Its vast potentialities depend upon the wisdom with which it is used; and wisdom is not the product of a mathematical formula. The arts provide both discipline and spontaneity: the discipline of hand and eye, the discipline of the emotions, the feeling for form and order; and the spontaneity of the imagination, of sensitive perception. No matter what the medium employed, whether it be paint, clay, the notes of music or a dramatic representation, the subject of the arts is man: his relationship to himself, to his fellows, to his times: in short, his meaning and purpose. These are the basic issues which concern all of us; and all of Us, however devoid of special talents, can learn from the great art of the past, and from the struggles of contemporary artists as they try to express their feelings about the human situation. Art employs a universal language. Through it, we can bridge the centuries, the oceans, the continents. The great ages of history are great, not because of the wealth or pomp or power they displayed, but because of the art and literature they behind, a rich heritage shared fy all the civilized world... A work of art speaks to us immediately, whether it was fashioned by an unknown African, a Greek of the time of Pericles, or a contemporary Russian composer. We recognize in it the expression of the universal human spirit, whose aspirations we share. Our own age is one of crisis, when the individual feels himself threatened by uncontrollable social forces. In large areas, the individual has been politically crushed and subordinated to an all-powerful state. He has become only a statistical unit, a pawn in power politics. It is significant that the totalitarian states cannot allow any freedom for the arts. Dictators are rightly afraid of artists, because they insist on dealing, not with a statistical unit, but with a whole man; not with pawns, but with human souls. The arts are a bastion of individual freedom; and a society which encourages the arts, and which exposes itself to the discipline, insight, and spontaneity they provide, is making an affirmative statement about the continuing value of the free human spirit. A flourishing community should become aware of, and contemporary with its art. The bright lights of literature, painting, sculpture, music and dance should be reflected to the community. The creative artist should have the opportunity of making known his work and helping to promote its value. To closely relate all of the arts is not a new proposal, but the ideas and ideals of a community fine arts center are worthy of consideration by the truly progressive community which is planning For its growth. Housing the arts in a carefully planned group of buildings would not only bring the various artists together, where they could not help but learn from one another, but it could become the heart-center and emotional inspiration of a community. The architect for such a project should strive to give the community a group of beautiful, distinctive, and efficient workshops where the arts could live and grow, and from which their civilizing influence would spread into the daily lives of the individual members of the community.

Master of Architecture

Jones, Euine Fay, 1921-2004. "A community fine arts center." (1951) Master’s Thesis, Rice University. https://hdl.handle.net/1911/89735.

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