Whether you are choosing a painting for your living room, a mural for your kid’s room or a print for your office, decisions about art usually happen at the very end of the decorating process. As a result, art is often an after-thought in the budget or an item that is the first to get squeezed when money runs short. In terms of priorities, though, this makes sense – right?
When planning a space, consider your goals for that space and then consider the impact art has on people who view it every day. Intuitively, we know that art can be a source for creative inspiration and even an escape from the realities of our everyday challenges. Beyond this, though, studies have shown that the benefits of viewing art are more far-reaching and even include improved mental health and physical wellbeing.
To explain why viewing art is so beneficial, author Gabe Bergado is his article “Science Shows Art can do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body” recaps studies that used fMRI scans to suggest that viewing art activates the sectors of the brain which are responsible for pleasant emotions and the experience of reward. Want to reduce your stress levels? As Bergado points out, in one study viewing art reduced levels of self-reported stress as well as levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
In “The Art of Stress Relief”, author Jacinta Francis Ph.D also lists stress reduction among the many benefits of viewing art. Francis’ article points to the power of nature scenes in particular; she highlights findings that suggest that viewing nature scenes not only decreases stress but also increases job satisfaction for workers. Beyond the mental health benefits, there are also physical benefits – as Francis points to faster recovery times for patients surrounded by art. Similarly, Barbara MacRobie reports in “Hospitals Embrace the Healing Balm of Visual Art” that this restorative power of art is not lost on hospitals, which have been steadily increasing their investment in art – to the point where nearly 50 percent of U.S. hospitals have arts programs.
Not enough to convince you? Yet another study, discussed on PsyBlog in the article “Art Elevates the Mind by Increasing Empathy, Critical Thinking and Tolerance”, revealed that just a “one-hour tour of an art museum can increase empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills.”
So now re-consider the space you are planning. Do you want your family, your employees, your clients, or your patients to feel less stressed, to recover faster, to feel more satisfied, to be more empathetic or have enhanced critical thinking skills? Perhaps art should be the first consideration instead of the last.
About the author:
Jason Sawtelle is Artist and Owner at BlackBeak Studios, specializing in custom murals and commissioned art. Jason is also a fine artist, actively showing work in the greater Boston area (http://www.sawtelleart.com)