(This was a recent post from my blog Artistes et Les Humains that a lot of people enjoyed, and I wanted to share it here.)

There is a reason art is a major part of study when trying to understand another culture. The way a people express themselves says a lot about what they find important. However, it is also the easiest to understand. Art does not need to be translated. No matter the language spoken by the viewer and no matter the language spoken by the creator of the piece, art can give them a mutual understanding. This is also why it can be past through centuries, as times what it means to be human will always be the same.

If a painter from Russia paints a picture of a starving family on the streets in the winter snow, someone from an island nation who has never seen snow or known this suffering can feel their heart break as they look at the painting. They can’t speak Russian, they have never been in the cold. And yet, their heart breaks because suffering is understood by every human. We all want comfort and happiness for our families and our people. 

On the other hand, if an artist from Japan makes a piece about love, two people looking into each other’s eyes surrounded by warm colors, a person in Brazil might see it and feel happy and filled with hope at seeing some love in the world. Now the viewer from Brazil can’t speak Japanese, and yet, they communicated love.

A mutual understanding across nations can’t be made easily with policies, laws, or doctrine. Even talking it out can be a problem with language barriers.

We need to learn to communicate with art. We need to communicate with emotion.

As they say, everyone smiles in the same language.  

Published by K. J. Cordova