Art as Language

Art as Language:
Enriching Communication Through Art

By Sushi Frausto, LMFT

To say art is a language is, in reality, a bit misleading.  Art is a process of communication that includes language but moves beyond the grammatical and linguistic limits of language.  Art is an overarching term often commonly used for all expressive and creative means, including but not limited to:

Art                             Music                         Drama                      Dance

Movement                Poetry               Creative writing              Clay work

Spoken word          Constructing            Martial arts


Perhaps, the most striking characteristic of art is its ability to employ verbal and nonverbal communication; sometimes simultaneously.  If we look to music, drama, movement, and many other art forms we see intentional use of nonverbal communication. Examples include gesture, posture, tone of voice, rhythm, sounds, and facial expressions.  These are all used to aid communication of ideas.  Nonverbal communication often mixes with verbal language, as in song or and spoken word. This adds multiple layers to the communication process.

Artistic communication relies heavily on the use of symbolism.  Images, metaphors, colors, sound quality, and so many other devices can be used to express oneself.  This abundance of methods often mixes together leading to the rich, multilayered and complex communication style found in art.

We can use artistic expression to grow in understanding of ourselves and others. When we dive into the artistic experience, as the artist or the viewer, we open ourselves to the communication it will bring.  We will leave the experience more knowledgeable, with a deeper understanding and having grown in our capacity for communication through art.

The next time you are presented with artistic expression from your child, a friend or even yourself, dare to learn more.  Rather than say or think, “That looks nice” dive into communication by asking them to “tell me more.” See what’s communicated to you.

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