When you think of “the arts,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of museums or a symphony orchestra or a famous painting hanging in a big city gallery. Maybe you think of wildlife photography or a jazz concert or perhaps a Broadway musical. Here in South Dakota, I think of the two pieces of iconic art that in a way define our state, Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore. I hear the songs of Hank Harris and see prairie life in Mary Groth’s paintings. I remember listening to Bryan Akipa perform the oldest known song to be played on the flute while watching the stars come out over Clear Lake.
The arts are everywhere! And that is especially true in South Dakota. We live in a place that abounds with creativity. Since men and women first etched sweeping outlines of animals on the cliffs of the Southern Black Hills, we have been a species uniquely driven to create. We tell our stories through the arts. Whether it’s music, dance, visual arts, theater or literature, the arts are perhaps the most important way of remembering and defining a civilization.
And let’s not forget, the arts are fun! Regardless of whether we sit in a darkened theater, laughing or weeping with the scenes created for our entertainment, or sit alone at a piano, feeling the music fill our being, we’re having fun. We dance with joy, sing with passion and live life fully through the arts.
Another incredible fact is that the arts are in each and every one of us. Critics may have more to say about Picasso than about the magic marker masterpiece on your refrigerator, but it’s all art. And our appreciation of creativity—from the museum to the school play to the bluegrass concert to the current best seller--is based on our own personal love of the arts.
So what are the arts? The arts are being human, seeing beauty, hearing music, telling stories, moving joyously, creating in whatever way inspires you. Creativity is everywhere and I encourage us all to go out and experience it. Celebrate and support the arts in your community!
For more about the arts in South Dakota, visit ArtsSouthDakota.org.