Laudan Payne ’21
While sitting in AP Lang, my friend off-handedly mentioned to me that if we did not teach history, everything that happened in the past would simply be forgotten. Nobody would know what it was or who it was that shaped this world. It would all simply pass over time and be another insignificant chip in the woodblock of time.
There are many ways that history is viewed by our modern lense, through literature, video documentation, first hand accounts, and verbal orations.
But one of the most important and underrated of all is through art.
AP Art History taught me that historically, art has always functioned more than just a piece to be displayed or to be analyzed. It serves as a reminder of what was real. Of progression. Of what society was and what it aims to be.
Taking Art History was one of the most impactful classes I have taken in highschool, I learned about various cultural practices and societies simply through their art. Gazing upon the tombs of the Pharaohs all the way to the modern buildings of New York City, I learned about how each culture influenced one another. Watching the world simultaneously grow and advance to their own cultural standards was amazing. Groups that lived thousands of miles apart, sometimes with no knowledge of one another were living and creating art. A similarity that all human cultures possess. The desire to create and advance. It is a unifying qualification of mankind, that in a classroom I got to witness and learn about.
I particularly loved learning about the cultures that I come from, seeing the African tribes on the Ivory Coast and North African regions create and display their art was heartwarming to me, and seeing Persian miniatures and temples brought me pride as I saw the people that I was descended from proudly create their art, not knowing that I hundreds of years later would look upon it with the same feelings they felt. I got to peer through history through a new lens, art. A raw and controversial documentation of events and sometimes harsh social commentary of its people. I got to see modern artists from ethnic backgrounds reclaim forms of art that were stolen from them. I got to see mankind’s progression and regression. I saw rebellion and triumph.
I only hope to continue learning about historical works of art, but as this year comes to a close I can only write my ode to my 12th year AP Art History class and thank it for showing me its narrative.
Photo Credit: Laudan Payne, Hailey McCarthy