Here is an excerpt from an online debate forum based on the title question:
The Arts, Necessity/ Luxury?…. Personally I’m surprised a question could ever be asked in sincerity as though it were not clear.
Here is one excerpt of particular poignance to the conversation thread and of particular relevance to The Art of Utopia and the very philosophy I am researching. Thank you Jennifer Sawyer for your words of clarity.
Jennifer Sawyer • A medical missions trip to Haiti gave me some insight on this topic. In January 2010 Haiti was devastated by an earthquake. The nation was already living in abject poverty, and so the poor infrastructures crumbled immediately. To this day, many live in homes without a roof or door. Since the earthquake, my friend Heidi [RN] has led volunteer teams to Hope Alive Clinic. I joined her on her 5th trip the summer 2011 and was blown away by what I witnessed- bad and good. Upon our arrival at Port Au Prince we were literally grabbed at by people in desperation. The rubble in the streets is still being piled up with rudimentary tools as people team together with wheelbarrow, broom and dustpan. People walk for miles to the Christian clinic in droves to receive help- many complain of stomach pain that the staff have learned is usually simply because the patients have not eaten for up to a week. Their lack of clean water supply is especially troubling, and cholera has come and gone as people struggle to find a potable source. In the face of this suffering, the Haitians are quick to exchange smiles, and are beautifully resourceful. Not only do they manage to make the best practical use from scraps, they also are bursting with artful creativity. Art vendors line the streets hoping to sell their carefully crafted paintings and handiwork. The buses are gaily painted in murals with the color and sensitivity of Diego Rivera. The tiny children without shoes are capable of genius drawings that are brilliant for their age- we were able to meet many orphans and play together. Many men are fine woodworkers, eager to find work. The Haitians are also gifted musically- men had lovely songs to play on my guitar with sincere modesty. Women would stand around us and sing along in the clinic courtyard waiting area, peering over our shoulders, reading the English as they could, enthusiastically lending exquisite harmonies even to songs they hadn’t ever heard. The Haitians showed me that art is not an idle luxury, but a gift from God, blooming mercy in a wasteland that would otherwise remain in despair. I am humbled and inspired by the faith and grace of these people.
I think you have hinted at the root of artful creation here. A survival mechanism many lose touch with in the modern world of ‘delusionary’ conveniences. That Utopias are born of Dystopias is the theme at the heart of my MA practice of which I feel to be important in highlighting the true nature of art, not the media portrayal.
Such forums can be sourced here: http://www.linkedin.com/home