Student Voices: Art Saves Lives | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Art Saves Lives | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Art Saves Lives

by | January 5, 2016
Photography by Corinne Riedel
What if we lived in a world without art?

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.


I went to a film screening a couple of weeks ago. I was hyped-up on a lack of sleep and a rush of end of term anxiety — you know the kind I’m talking about — the kind you get when you’re really tired and your stomach is in knots and you can’t eat really rich or greasy foods or else you’ll have to study on the toilet… yep, that kind.


Poem by Corinne Riedel

So I’m at this film screening of Richard Van Camp’s Mohawk Midnight Runners and Hickey Gone Wrong and I’m feeling all wound up. And I start talking to one of the profs that I know and babble on about this end of term craze we all get in. I tell her that I am interested in how, at that time of year, it is such an exhaustive yet generative time; we tend to operate on an efficient — and somewhat explosive — level. I guess what I mean is that we are provided the stimuli that turns into learning, that turns into more questions, that turns into this interesting form of impulsive behavior in our learning.

That night, I had a dream that gave me some ideas about where I want to go with my craft and where my skills might take that. But previous to that moment, I had had a pretty intense time learning that someone in my immediate family had almost died. So there I was, distraught, tired, anxious, yet elated and super stimulated. I had this sort of energy cluster of mixed madness all balled-up within and needed to get rid of it somehow; I needed to be constructive with it.

I had to write.

As I was writing, I had this intense wave of gratitude that snuck out of my eyes and down onto my cheeks. I wasn’t baffled by this incoming tide. I was going through a lot and dealing with a range of emotions that I hadn’t the time nor the strength to process. Regardless, I asked myself what it was at that precise moment that set me off. It was a simple realization.

Art saves me.

I had been there before. I went on to write these words. “Art saves lives — at least it has saved mine.” What if I hadn’t sat down to write that day? What if I, someone who might explode if I wasn’t able to “get it out,” existed in a world where writing or painting or photographing wasn’t a thing? What if we couldn’t make art?

I cannot imagine it — yet funds, courses, projects continuously get nixed where the arts are involved. When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he replied, “Then what are we fighting for?”

Art uplifts us. It is intertwined in our everyday. We cannot separate art from our languages, our lands, nor ourselves.

Oscar Wilde wrote: “It is through art only that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.”

We are makers. So I write. I photograph. I draw. I paint. I live.

Banner photo by Corinne Riedel: Old Strathcona mural

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About Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel

Corinne Riedel (Métis) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Arts. She is working towards a certificate in Community Service-Learning while majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing, as well as co-instructing a junior English course in Aboriginal literature and writing. Forever reading and writing poetry, tea and fruit in hand, she enjoys being outdoors. Whether on or slightly off campus, she cannot get enough sunshine and conversation with campus cousins. She is interested in knowledge-keeping for the purpose of sharing as much as she is interested in truth, humanization and activism through the arts.