The word art derives from the Latin ars which means any activity aimed at designing or building something in a suitable and harmonious way. The Latin word comes from the Sanskrit root *ar, which expresses “to go towards” and in a translational sense, “to adapt”, “to make”, “to produce”.

It was only at the dawn of the modern age that the word art began to partially lose its link with the material and came to mean any cultural product recognised as valuable, a meaning that was consolidated with the birth of philosophical aesthetics in the 18th century. The positive evaluation of the imagination is added to the technical meaning.

The shift has accentuated the reception aspect to the detriment of the technical-creative one. But if we recover the Latin and Sanskrit meanings, it is possible to understand how art is also the congeniality of manners to the idea and the ability to “go towards”. And perhaps this is precisely why art is such a powerful means of healing….

In fact, in its most private form, art aims to be the search for the most suitable form to express a certain emotion, to recount a certain experience, of joy or pain. Starting from the choice of the language one feels most suitable, whether it be words or pen, clay or musical notes, one arrives at the elaboration of a product that gives body to those psychic states that are otherwise not comprehensible and/or extrinsicable.

Moreover, art is not only something that serves the self, but, as its Sanskrit root reminds us, it is also something that “moves towards”, which therefore seeks an interlocutor – even if it does not need one to exist.

From the encounter between the work of art and the other (not, therefore, its author) a dialogue is possible; instead, we can consider the process of artistic creation as a soliloquy, a discourse spoken without an audience. Dialogue with the work allows us to share states of mind, but also to compare our own with what we read in the work itself: the eyes of each individual experience make the discourse with art and about art different and equally valid, even if it is fruitless.

In conclusion, the introspective character of creation and its dialogical counterpart of confrontation with the work are both included in the word art, which becomes a vehicle and field of negotiation of meanings and therefore a powerful tool for healing and elaboration.

Please leave us a word or an image that expresses your “feeling of art”.

Enrica Leydi

Born in Milan, she obtained a three-year degree in Modern Literature at the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna. She is currently completing her Master's degree in Italian Studies at the same university in Emilia. She has been collaborating with ISTUD since April 2021 as coordinator of the journal "Cronache di Sanità e Medicina Narrativa".

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