The Importance of Storytelling and Art

By Gary Calderon- Ng

Art, the great unifier. It’s a broad term that encompasses everyone’s effort to communicate with others their way of experiencing things. People sing, they dance, they build and they paint. Certainly, the last is what traditionally comes to mind for a person when the term is used. Many art pieces from the past have been accompaniments or responses to stories that were written, such as Dante’s inferno, The Iliad and other written works. Why do people choose to create their art based on stories? Where is the connection between art and storytelling? Is there
any real difference between the two? Stories can be considered written paintings that engage the audience’s senses and emotions. By giving them the descriptions but not showing them the picture, they are able to imagine the faces of the characters and events themselves, engaging their creativity. This process is the reason for the different versions of Dante’s interactions with Beatrice in paintings of them. If art and storytelling are fated to be together because of their contemporary nature, then why should our publication not do the same.

Past editions of the FLARE have put the majority of the artwork in the middle, but if we, the editorial staff, chose to place them near stories that seemed contemporary to them, it would increase the audience’s engagement with the story. By showing them the painting first before a story, it can illicit emotions based on memories or feelings pertaining to the presentation of the painting, and upon reading the story immediately afterwards, their view of the story is changed because of their foreknowledge or priming with the painting. I know the last publication that the staff was required to read for an assignment had a picture of an elderly woman with a girl. This was immediately followed by a story about immigration and what it’s like. By putting the painting first, the audience will draw upon memories if they have experienced something like this, making them out to be more sympathetic. If they did not grow up understanding the notion of being an immigrant though, they could still feel attached to the picture through the image of the elderly woman because grandmothers and older woman tend to have a revered place in our society as bastions of wisdom, lest the audience forget the age-old adage, “Pearls before Swine”.

Personally, I connect with this concept because of my love of reading. I can imagine far-reaching landscapes that are described in stories, and when I see people who do fan-art of the stories they love, it inspires me. This is precisely why I love reading science fiction. It, and horror are both genres that usually build a visual representation of what is going on. When I was younger, one of my favorite books to read was the Harry Potter series. This is a good example of a story that is accompanied by art because of how many movies were made to go along with the books; in particular, the Prisoner of Azkaban is widely considered the best of the Harry Potter films.

This is not just a U.S. phenomena though. The need to create visual representations for stories goes so far as to have a comedic sketch for our current president. Many countries have on their own time, made sun of our president with such extensive coverage that he may have succeeded in unifying the world with a common hatred of him. Art and literature have been contemporary partners since the very beginning as cave paintings were used to also record our knowledge. If a partnership this old has been there since the nearly the beginning, why should our publication not continue the tradition?