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Work and Art PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Smith   

Unlike the controversy between seventeenth century mathematicians Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz as to which of them discovered the calculus, I lay no claim to being the first to discover a connection between work and the fine arts. Nevertheless, whether they are original or not, here are a few observations I've made that make my life richer.

For years I've worked as a computer programmer. Although I've learned a few piano pieces, memorized lyrics to some standards, and, most recently, acted in a couple plays, until now I've always separated work from these other interests. But drawing parallels between work and art helps in the development of both of them. One isn't necessarily better than the other, each enhances the other.

For example, details in my daily work, at first seeming to be insignificant and therefore easily forgettable, started to take on more meaning when I realized that each note in a composition was put there by the musician for a reason, each word was put in a play, each color selected for a painting because they thought it the best expression. So at work I read things more closely, I listen better, because chances are, those details will be significant in doing good work. Details mean more to me than they would have had I not made the similar discovery in art.

As for one enhancing the other, consider the play that I was fortunate to have a small role in, Freedom’s Light: A Stop Along the Underground Railroad, written by Kelly Boyer Sagert. In two hours, through beautiful words and music (although not a musical) we witness expressions of love, courage, friendship, duty, belief, and hope - by both the conductors and especially by those whose lives were at stake, the slaves.

A beautiful play helps us grow in these areas. But a two-hour play could not happen without real people, be they slaves struggling for their freedom, conductors, doctors or computer programmers, who often spend entire lives doing what they think is valuable so that life can be better for themselves and others.