In a day and age when technology reigns as king, there’s hardly any need to experience the world through other mediums. Why head outside, view landscape or nature paintings at a museum or create anything of your own? The internet provides us with everything, so why look for more? You might think you’re being incredibly sociable on social media, but that’s not exactly true. Rather than taking the time to hold an actual conversation, your neck is craned downwards to see the latest Facebook post or Twitter tweet. What you probably don’t realize is the power that putting down your phone can have. Since joining the Southern Utah Museum of Art staff in Cedar City, Utah, my involvement in social media marketing for the museum requires me to find the best angle to get an interior shot or style the most effective arrangement of retail shop products for Instagram. However, the best shot, I’m discovering, is when I put my iPad down and take a look around. Wandering through the museum around the sections for the National Parks, the creations featured in the First Peek exhibit, Kevin Kehoe’s poetically painted southwest landscapes and the permanent Jimmie Jones collection, I experience the power of nature and art. To celebrate the Beverley Center for the Arts’ Opening starting Thursday, July 7th through Saturday, July 9th, I’m sharing a few reasons on how nature and art can have a significant impact on our lives.
- Nature and art both play a huge part in overcoming mental fatigue and improving attention. One theory that nature has cognitive benefits is appropriately named Attention Restorative Theory or ART. ART illustrates that nature has the power to renew our energy levels and cognitive activity. A particular study that affirms this theory was conducted by Berto in 2005 and it showed that photographs of nature improved attention, while photographs of city dwelling decreased attention. So, if you’re feeling stuck on a project, take a minute to go outside or view some photos or paintings of the outdoors and let your mind get lost and release some tension.
- Two kinds of art, plein air (French for “in the open air”) and urban sketching are showing people how to actually “see” a place. Whether the artwork is a realistic or an abstract interpretation, these styles of art help people become immersed and absorbed in the world around them. Since Gabriel Campanario began the nonprofit movement Urban Sketchers, he’s developed a global community that has inspired books and an annual symposium. By taking the time to become immersed in their surroundings and observe details, both urban sketchers and plein air painters take us with them to new spaces.
- Whether you’re looking through a camera lens or at a canvas as you capture minute details, you as the artist captivate your audience as you tell them the story through your medium. As you examine lighting, tones, colors and other visual cues, you transform the vision before you into a reality. In a world where we’re constantly influenced to “like,” “favorite” and “repost,” why not take the time to create where you can choose the elements and medium you want to use? When you are the creator, you can tune out the endless posts of workout achievements, baby photos and political mantras and express the world however you see it.
Do you still need more reasons to put your iPhone away? Then head to your nearest museum or pay a visit to the Southern Utah Museum of Art in Cedar City. Whether it’s during the Beverley Center for the Arts Opening or after the festivities, you’ll begin to see why art, nature and creativity are just what you need for an escape.
Southern Utah Museum of Art: 13 S. 300 W., Cedar City, Utah, Summer Hours (June 27-September 10) Monday-Saturday 10am-7:30pm, Winter Hours (September 10-April 29) Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-7pm.
“Attention Restoration Theory & Nature: Let’s Solve Problems. . .” Positive Psychology Program, Kirra Kirsch, June 20, 2014.
“Sketching for travellers: reasons to swap your smartphone for a pencil or paint.” Lonely Planet, Simon Richard, June 2016.
“Landscape Painting & Drawing.” Art is Fun, Thaneeya McArdle, 2008-2016.