The role of Fine Arts on the development of the child (Art Seminar of the Youth and Sports Organization of the Municipality of Athens, Athens, February 2006)

Mihalis Papadakis, sculptor
President of ΕΕΤΕ
Art Seminar ΟΝΑ
Athens 9/2/2006
The role of Fine Arts in the child development
The present cooperation between ΟΝΑ and ΕΕΤΕ is the first step, the start for a move towards creating an institutional cooperation between the two institutions, where ΕΕΤΕ will be responsible for materializing the pursuit of ΟΝΑ to bring Fine Art creation closer to the wide public, and especially to the youth.
Most people are used to looking at an Art work as something that makes more beautiful, decorates their environment. This is not wrong at all. The Art work plays this role too, and in fact this is very important. 
Most people are also used to face the occupation with Art, for example when someone paints various images etc., as an entertaining occupation. As a break, an escape from the pressuring problems of everyday life or for children as an escape from the pressure of the lessons, as a game. This is not wrong either. That is how it is, to a large extent. Art is a game too.
What most people are not used to seeing, though, is that behind the decoration and the entertaining occupation we repeat a procedure in the micro climax of our individual life, and especially the child, a procedure that in the macro climax of the history of man sealed his route. Literally it sealed it and directed it.
Painting and Sculpturing appear about 40.000 years ago as an activity of homo sapiens sapiens (from whom we directly descend). At that time, homo sapiens sapiens, having just migrated from more temperate climates in the south and central Europe, coexists with the man of Neanderthal for about 4.000 years, before the latter disappears forever.
At a period during which half Europe is covered with glaciers, it is normal that the competition of the two groups becomes greater from time to time. Nevertheless, tools and products tradeoffs are proven by the findings. They have the same level of knowledge on tools. It is also proven that homo sapiens sapiens develops Painting (rock-painting) during this period, and micro-sculpture as well, which he exchanges only in the communities of his group.  The man of Neanderthal, as findings prove, remained indifferent to these new products…
The thought of scientists today is directed towards the theory that this difference (in the findings until today neither another difference nor another cause have been found) gave the lead to homo sapiens to become the “winner”.  
Apparently, the development of Art helped homo sapiens sapiens develop the ideological coherence of his group and the relations inside it. 
The appearance of Painting and Sculpturing (at least 1 million years after the use of fire and of the tool, 1 million 800 years for others) means that something important happened with the appearance of Art, a quality change so that in only forty thousand years until our days homo sapiens sapiens has been transformed to the dominant creature on the planet. And this is due to the fact that with Art the thought of homo sapiens sapiens passes to the area where he can think on his abstractions, on the abstract concepts that are formed by the shaped images that he creates until their later development to symbols, with writing being the most important one.
With Art, thought uses the material provided by the experiential creation and by the use of the tool, which constituted for a very long time the very first subjective form of abstraction. On the basis of the abstraction that the tool represented, thought with the help of Art creates its own abstractions as «tools» of its own development, that is to say of the thought. This way Art becomes the fundamental element in the development of knowledge until today, and like this of civilization until our days.
In the mental images, that Man socially creates with Art and Sciences for things, he detects/thinks the possibilities that serve his needs. His tools (and the tools of his thought) widen his possibilities to satisfy these needs and to create new ones.
Fine Arts play an energetic role in this procedure, and not only this. They play a leading role in it. 
Fine Arts, as a historically social function, do not represent the past, nor the facts and feelings of our relation to them, nor do they deal with our supposed personal visions of an individual sensitivity. Much more they do not try to satisfy the taste neither of the collective nor of the individual consumer, as fashion wants them to.
Fine Arts work very hard to reorganize the perceptive image of Man. They constantly embody the new facts that Sciences and social act create in social relations, and detect the still invisible truths producing a new image, that imprints them. This way they inspire Sciences and social act towards the future. This is their creative contribution in the contemporary history of homo sapiens sapiens as well.
Let us now look at this procedure during a person’s development. 
When we see a little child painting or drawing, we find it amusing, and the drawings that it makes funny or cute. How many of us see in this activity, though, a big step taking place in the way that the child understands the world? A big step, so much important for the person, as much as it was for the mankind when it discovered Fine Arts as a kind of understanding-knowing, communicating and planning its action?
When the child draws lines, with which it creates images, it describes how it understands its world, through its feelings. This way it becomes capable of handling its natural powers –imagination, instinct, and intuition– and of giving shape to them (objective presence). Of creating, with their help, a objective image, which gives it the possibility to think on that image, and through it to exert and slowly to think of these powers.
That is to say, it creates an image that has been produced a) by the effect of the world on its senses (the objective) and b) by the ability to discipline its body and mental functions, so that it is capable of describing the objects of its senses, having as a main element how it judges them, how it perceives them (the subjective). The image is always a synthesis of the objective with the subjective.
The privilege that the image that it has created gives to the child is that now it can think/reflect on it also and judge it. It can judge both the world and its judgment... It can think on the world and on its thought. It can think of the world and of itself in the world. It can acquire self-consciousness... Social self-consciousness. It learns how to handle energetically the codes and the communication symbols that man historically creates in his self development. We should not forget that writing has its routes on painting. As it is said, Art and writing are «first degree relatives».  
With the fine art action the child is forced, it learns how to think abstractively, that is to say substantially. How to by-pass the non-substantial and to concentrate its thought on the substantial. This way it learns how to grade things to values. To organize its thought. This way the child learns how to handle the creative production of knowledge as well. 
A philosopher of the previous century wrote: «If we assume that a society didn’t have Art [and we have some examples of such societies until Neanderthal], could this society have science? I decisively answer no. »
Art, according to this philosopher, in the social distribution, sets the artists to cultivate with Fine arts the ability of society to think with images and to use consciously its natural forces of imagination, instinct and intuition. On these abilities that Art cultivates is where Science is based and the development of knowledge, by other members of the community. 
With this Programme, that the group of ΕΕΤΕ will realize, we adress teachers, and with them the children, having as an only aim, not to teach the children how to paint and to become artists, but to feel and to reveal inside them the creative forces, that all the children have, and to learn how to trust them. If we succeed even partially on this aim, it will be an amazing success of the Programme.

Mihalis Papadakis














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