Letter: Impact of art upon brain's digestion

Impact of art upon brain's digestion

To the editor:

I was touched by the Sept. 19 letter to the editor from Shon Loftus, student, emphasizing the importance of teaching art. As an artist who has been painting in realism since the 1980s, I would like to add some comments.

As an art student in the 1970s, I was sketching a model in portraiture class. Drawing her mouth, I started thinking that our mouth is both an entrance and exit. It's an exit for sound and words after the tongue and throat work. It's an entrance for liquid and food, But as an entrance, the mouth is doing two things: One is tasting with the tongue. The other is chewing to send food easily down to the stomach.

Years later, this reflection yielded a much deeper meaning. We human beings are doing and acting just like our mouths. For anything, including other people's opinions, our brains react as if tasting: good, sweet, bad, sour and spicy.

Once you are impressed, but find something difficult to understand, you check with the dictionary or get more explanation. That's biting. Then you send it to the stomach for digestion, meaning to start "thinking," to make this a part of your own thoughts, philosophy, feelings and even your spiritual ground.

Tasting is what you can do right away, but digestion takes a long, long time. I interpreted tasting as "knowing" and digesting as "understanding."

Today's big problem in our society is, because of tremendous technological development, more and more information on many things is constantly coming to our brains and everything is getting faster and faster.

Just imagine that the brain is like a mouth with food and drink coming fast and constantly. You can't have enough time to digest, maybe just bite a little bit. Your brain is mostly tasting the information and reacting. Now, more people react only from one side.

In my art, I could express the brightness of light by adding the darkness of shade and shadow to create a sense of depth. This taught me that when thinking about any topic, viewing it also from the other side without prejudice gives us depth in thinking. To do that, you would need more time. I mean a quiet time. Art gives you a quiet time,

Ken Otsuka, Great Barrington


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