The following is an excerpt from a speech Kirby once gave to a local public high school…
Art, both making art and looking at art, makes you more aware of yourself — more aware of those close to you, and more aware of the larger world around you.
When you learn how to make art, particularly when you learn how to work from observation, you start to see things more clearly. You start to see the spaces between things … you start to see relationships. You start to see more colors as you practice mixing them for yourself. You start to notice the light and how it falls on things and through spaces.
When you walk out into the world, you are more aware. Even if art isn’t your thing, even if you take an art class because you have to, being exposed to seeing things more intensely carries over into every other visual aspect of your life. This same awareness also works to help you see people around you. You start to notice more about them — how they are standing while they speak to you, how they are looking at you. You become a more engaged listener.
And finally, artists direct your attention to the larger world around you. An artist can paint an image and at the same time point a finger at social inequity through his or her subject matter. Think of art as the artist pointing a finger and directing your gaze to something that they feel is important and that might be somehow important to you.
Every time you make a piece of artwork, you are expressing something important about yourself. You are showing us how you see the world. You are sharing your creative self with us through the act of making a piece of art.
Kirby Fredendall has taught painting, drawing, and design at Solebury School for more than 20 years. She is also an accomplished professional painter who specializes in oil abstracts, like the one below.