“Art is not a thing; it is a way.”   ~Elbert Hubbard

Imagine a wedding. The bride wears a special dress. Her bridesmaids wear gowns and carry flower bouquets. The groom wears a suit or a tuxedo as do his groomsmen. The guests dress up too, but are careful not to draw attention away from the bride. The music is familiar, the words are lyrical, symbolic rings are exchanged and rituals are performed. The specifics vary according to religious, regional or ethnic factors, but the underlying structure of the ceremony is reassuring and familiar.

Technically, none of these elements is required for a marriage to happen. However, this scenario illustrates one of the most basic of human instincts—the need to make ordinary human behaviors more special by creating rituals that are formalized and symbolic.

Traditions like this are ubiquitous in our daily lives because they create feelings of belonging and celebration. When elements combine in the form of dance, music, symbols and costume to create ceremony, they provide ways for individuals to elevate their ordinary lives to something more-than-ordinary. When participating in artful behavior by themself or with others, people express and transform their feelings, thoughts, and desires into something more. In responding to these behaviors in others, our feelings also expand.

People in modern society often dismiss the arts as unnecessary without realizing how deeply ingrained in human nature they are. While there is an important place for the kind of art found in museums, theaters and concert halls, every time you make an aesthetic choice or participate in the act of making something special, you are engaging in the act of artfulness.

There is an elemental and evolutionary reason why we embellish special occasions, play love songs, send greeting cards and exchange symbols of devotion. Artfulness is the glue that holds us together, reduces anxiety and makes us feel loved, safe and connected. Making things special is a fundamental as breathing. Since the beginning of our time on earth, humans have embraced the arts on a survival level, as important as food and shelter. Artfulness is fundamental.

Claudia Lewis holds a Masters in art education and is the owner of Full Circle Art Studio where she teaches a variety of fiber arts classes. To see examples of Claudia’s work and that of her students, please visit www.fullcircleart.studio. You can reach her by email at claudia@fullcircleart.studio or call 303-530-1534.