The Art of Appreciation: The Value of Art and Its Role in a University Community

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Duvra, Mara
Ramani, Geetha
The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, Vol. 3, 2011: 108-114.
The visual arts play an important role in the aesthetic environment. The condition of the aesthetic environment has the potential to have positive or negative effects on people. Understanding the importance the visual arts play in enhancing an academic and social environment within a university campus is important in order to maximize the role of the university. The university today has become the chief agent in formulating and handing on our cultural tradition- this is what its visual environment should make visible. By providing visual artwork which represents social responsibility and artistic substance, as well as by offering an educational forum in which dialogue between artist and viewer and art and community is encouraged the university can provide outside learning experiences for students and faculty to be continually engaged in critical thinking about abstract concepts and academic issues. Research surrounding the possible negative or positive effects the conditions of an aesthetic environment can have on individuals is lacking and the scope does not extend as far as college, rather focusing on the visual environments of elementary schools. When considering the role of the visual arts in terms of its display within the buildings of a university community the value and importance can often be overlooked or greatly misunderstood. The purpose of this research inquiry can be defined in with three progressive goals; identify key characteristics to evaluate tangible attributes which make a visual art piece “valuable” and thus significant for an academic community, find research and literature which will support an understanding of the value and importance of viewing and purchasing art in a tangible context for a university, and finally developing a measure to discover and recognize how members of the university community perceive the role of the arts in their environment. With this proposal I hope to bring attention to the importance of the visual arts in higher education and the role of the arts in enhancing an academic environment.