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Why study art of the past?

Studying past art is crucial to understanding our culture, history, and ourselves. It fosters empathy, broadens perspectives, and enhances visual literacy. Art history reveals our creative potential and provides a record of what our ancestors valued. It's a key to unlocking our human identity. Created by Beth Harris, Smarthistory, and Steven Zucker.

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Video transcript

(upbeat intro music) - [Narrator] Why is it important to study art of the past? - [Instructor] Art history is not just in the past, it is in the present and when I teach art history, I'm teaching about the context and I'm trying to help students find those connections between what happened then and why and what's happening now and why. Everything that we have about where we came from, our culture, the ideas that we've had in the past are all wrapped up in these artifacts and the arts that we look at. If we want to know more about who we are today, we should really look at past arts. - [Instructor] I believe that art is the underlying thread that informs our everyday life in ways that we might not even be aware of, and I think it is the language that is important for us to understand how it works and how we read it. Visual literacy is just as important as written literacy and we're living in a visual world. - [Teacher] Studying arts history helps us find points of connection with people from other places and other times. - [Teacher] One of the things that I think my students get out of studying art of the past is that they can start to empathize and understand what it was like to live a life that is very different from their own. They understand that their cultural frame of reference and their religious frame of reference is not the norm throughout all time and space. I'm a Non-Westerner so I firmly that its important to study the traditions of other cultures, and not just privileged the legacy of European art but understand also that other cultures produce important art and some of the best artists. [Teacher] I think we study the Art of the Past because we are fascinated about ourselves and own creative potential. And also really fascinated about our own deeper sense of where we come from. Art is this record that the past has left us, that allows us to look back in time and understand what they cared about. What they really thought was precious. What they thought was worth recording and leaving for the future generations. We understand ourselves and who we are as human. By understanding the art of the past. (upbeat piano music)