Art gets a bad rap. 

At universities like Duke, where STEM fields are encouraged and a liberal arts education is viewed in terms of  “T-reqs” rather than as a part of being a well-rounded individual, it seems like art is looked down upon as being “lesser” or “easier.” Aside from the fact that things that are supposedly easier are discredited at Duke—which is a whole separate issue I can get into at another time— the idea that a career or major in the liberal or fine arts is inferior is completely misleading. Not only is art difficult (take it from someone who’s tried to be good at it since sixth grade), it’s something that has enriched our lives since the beginning of time.

The beauty of art is just that— it’s beautiful. Although it seems superficial, it’s human nature to like aesthetically pleasing things. If it weren't, I highly doubt the Kardashian/Jenner clan would be famous or that the fashion industry would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Art is something we can look at, we can listen to, we can watch, that reminds us that there is beauty in the world to appreciate, even if it’s not beauty we’re experiencing firsthand.

And although I love and appreciate art for this, it’s not the reason I need it in my life. I am, unfortunately, neither creative enough nor committed enough to create art; instead, I consume it. It’s strange how something seemingly so passive, like looking at a painting or watching a movie, can elicit such deep and visceral emotions. A good movie or book can make you laugh, can make you cry and can even have you loving or hating characters as if they were your own acquaintances. THIS is why I love and need art in my life. Not because I like looking at pretty things (although this is not categorically untrue), but because, in my world full of organic chemistry and molecular biology, it provides me a respite from my, at times, dull and stressful everyday life. Especially with this year, this election, it’s sometimes nice to pretend that the biggest problem in my life is whether or not Jack will fit, not whether or not my country is heading towards inevitable chaos.

It’s obvious that I am not the only one who harbors this sentiment, either. The movie, music, fashion and fine art industries contribute significantly to the world’s GDP and make up a notable part of the work force in the United States. So why then, is something that means so much to so many people across the world looked down upon at institutions of higher education like Duke? Why do so many parents (including mine, both of whom work in the arts) discourage their children from pursuing careers as actors, writers, musicians or artists? Not only is art unassumingly pervasive, it can have just as much power to heal as medicine can and is just as much a platform for social and political commentary as any newspaper or journal. Art is a tool for education and a tool for expression. It is by no means a lesser career path and should not be treated as such.

Georgina Del Vecho is a Trinity sophomore and a Recess Student Life Editor.