Outside The Lines

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3 Ways Art Shapes Your Identity

September 24, 2018 Jessica 0 Comments

Identity is a complex thing. It is difficult to define and even more difficult to describe. One thing is for sure, though — art has helped to shape your identity in powerful ways.

3 Ways Art Shapes Your Identity

There is no human identity that hasn’t been shaped by paintings, poems, films, architecture, illustrations, and many other forms of art. Art surrounds us, and we take it in and then express ourselves with it. Even those who consider themselves non-artistic express their personal identities by hanging art prints on their walls, listening to the radio, or wearing certain fashions.

Art shapes your identity in a variety of ways. Here are three:


  1. fingerprint-328992_640It affects our preferences: Everyone likes to think he or she is a true original whose preferences are mostly unaffected by outside influences. While we are each originals, out preferences for visual art, music, films and more are definitely affected by the art that surrounds us, especially in our youth. For example, those raised listening to classic country music may love it, whereas someone whose parent was a jazz pianist may find country music unappealing. Without a doubt, the art we grow up seeing and hearing affects our preferences as adults.


  1. It offends us: Sometimes we discover what we love by identifying what we hate. Art can help us in this way. We may see or hear or experience art that offends or even enrages us. This helps us decide what we stand for and what we are passionate about, which is central to our identity.


  1. It inspires us: If it can do anything, art can inspire. It can also encourage. This is the reason Holocaust victims etched images of butterflies into the concrete walls of their prisons. By creating beauty where none existed, they inspired survival and encouraged the will to live. Art also inspires us in our life’s purpose. Even hearing a simple song may suddenly wake up something dormant within us, gifting us with an “aha” moment and giving us a revelation of what we are here for, which is core to who we are.

“We negotiate our own identity with the art we consume. The music we listen to, the art we admire, the way we decorate, the films we view—these all reflect who we are.” — How Art Shapes Identity  

Art Changes, and So Does Your Identity

Like art, our identity is always changing. We are never stuck, and we never have to be stagnant. We can allow ourselves to evolve. A contributor to Trinity Western University wrote,

“When we see identity as static, we paint people with stereotypes and do not see them for who they are. Art is one way to challenge static notions of identity by engaging the viewer in narratives that are unfamiliar to them, and that challenge their previously held notions.”

What is one way you feel art helped shape your personal identity?

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