The arts have long been recognized as having the ability to influence our emotions and provide a means for self-expression. Among the various forms of art, visual art has been shown to have a significant impact on social-emotional learning. Through visual art, individuals can explore and express their emotions, develop empathy, and build positive relationships. In this article, we will examine the effect of visual art on social-emotional learning and the research that supports its benefits.
One of the primary benefits of visual art on social-emotional learning is that it allows individuals to express their emotions in a nonverbal way. According to a study by the American Art Therapy Association, visual art can serve as a means of self-expression and can be a powerful tool for individuals who may have difficulty communicating their emotions verbally (1). Through visual art, individuals can explore their emotions and gain a better understanding of their feelings. This can lead to improved emotional regulation and increased self-awareness.
Visual art can also help individuals develop empathy, an essential component of social-emotional learning. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that students who participated in visual arts programs showed significant increases in empathy compared to those who did not participate (2). Through creating art, individuals can put themselves in the shoes of others and gain a better understanding of their experiences. This can lead to increased empathy and compassion towards others.
Furthermore, visual art can also be used to build positive relationships and improve social skills. A study by the University of London found that participation in visual arts programs led to improved social skills and increased social cohesion (3). Creating art can be a collaborative process, and individuals can learn to work together towards a common goal. Additionally, visual art can serve as a means of communication, allowing individuals to connect with others in a nonverbal way.
In conclusion, visual art has a significant impact on social-emotional learning. Through visual art, individuals can explore and express their emotions, develop empathy, and build positive relationships. The benefits of visual art on social-emotional learning have been supported by numerous studies, highlighting the importance of incorporating visual art into educational programs. As stated by the National Art Education Association, “visual arts education is essential to the development of the whole person” (4).
American Art Therapy Association. (2013). Art therapy: Enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities. Retrieved from https://arttherapy.org/art-therapy-enhancing-the-quality-of-life-for-people-with-disabilities/
J. Cheng, T. E. Monroe, & R. C. Li. (2012). The effects of visual arts on children’s social-emotional learning: A meta-analysis. Arts Education Policy Review, 113(4), 195–206. https://doi.org/10.1080/10632913.2012.678767
The University of London. (2013). The social impact of the arts. Retrieved from https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/scwru/res-publications/social-impact-of-the-arts.pdf
National Art Education Association. (2019). Essential learnings in visual arts education. Retrieved from https://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/essential-learnings-in-visual-arts-education