The oldest existing artworks by human being are paintings in caves, mostly found in Europe. Most of the cave paintings are over 10,000 years old, but the oldest is estimated to be created about 30,000 years ago, the Old Stone Age. It was before we started writing letters. It was when getting food to prevent starvation was by far the most important priority for people's life.
Why human beings back then drew pictures? What did they draw? Currently, it is estimated that those who had special capabilities drew pictures in order to convey messages to their communities, messages they got through dialogues with nature and universe. They might have drawn pictures to pray for successful hunting or to express what they had predicted about the future. These activities, -- having a dialogue with nature and universe, turning the dialogue into pictures and sharing the pictures with others -- must have been closely linked to life-sustaining activities such as breathing, drinking and eating. They also must have been something indispensable for human beings 30,000 years ago to survive under the severe natural conditions. "Drawing" is one of the communication means rooted in human beings' fundamental desires to live. It is therefore the origin of art. Through drawing and appreciating pictures, we can have heart-to-heart non-verbal communication as well as verbal communication. Art is indeed a borderless communication tool which crosses lines between different ethnicities and nations.
Art has changed its form in many ways but has never disappeared from our society. Why has art been always with us since dawn of the time? First and foremost, it is because art is "what makes us human." We do not live in the world where everything is explained by logic. We express our joy, anger and grievance as a way to expose swelling feelings and desires. We want to be thrilled. We are lured to mystery. We pour our energy into creating something. We, human beings, are the only creature which can create culture through art. Second, art plays a role to bring out dormant people's creativity and exert our potential. Creativity is "an ability to create something new based on high sensibility." Sensibility is "an ability to intuitively analyze and judge various matters and information and choose what is best" and is unique to each person. With sensibility, we get the subtleties of emotions, to figure out what is essential, to recognize beauty and to detect dangers and crises. Sensibility is therefore, like art, "what makes us human." Art plays a critical role to enhance people's creativity and foster sensibility.
Art reflects and creates times we live. For example, art in the Renaissance not only nurtured the vigorous atmosphere of the time which opened doors to the modern era but sparked various innovations such as printing technology and gunpowder. In another example, the New Deal program, which the US president Franklin Roosevelt launched to recover economy from the Depression, included a project to sponsor art incubation. The main purpose of the project was to encourage people who suffered the Depression by the power of art, as well as saving the unemployed artists. The New Deal program created a foundation of America's art and entertainment industry which was later developed into one of the biggest industries in the U.S. Art is not only for artists who create. Art is not something which only impacts a small group of people who are interested in art. Great arts can give people energy to live. Great arts can spark creation of culture and industry and even contribute to economic growth.
Art, therefore, plays an important part in helping us grow and build a spiritually affluent society. We have a pile of social and environmental problems today and art may provide us means to think how we can solve these problems. At the same time, art needs sincere self-reflection on its value and role. An innovative approach should be adopted so that art can help creating a sustainable society. Those engaged in art need to develop judgment and sensitivity to differentiate what changes along with time and social needs from what is essential and does not change.
We have a deep conviction that art is a powerful communication tool. Communication creates art and art then creates deeper communication. This is a circular process of turning "dialogue" into "discovery" through "expression." Based on this concept of "Communication Art," we, a group of individuals, have established a not-for-profit organization, "Institute of Communication Art (IOCA)." IOCA aims at becoming a learning platform for general public, particularly children who would create our future, to foster their sensibility, creativity and ability to live dynamically in the globalized world.
Hoping that more beautiful and enriched world will wait ahead...