How Art Can Change Your Life.

What does Art mean to you? Do you see paintings as moments in time, captured with radiant pigment and raking beams of light? Pretty pictures, exotic sculptures, whatever the reason we are all drawn to art.

As an Art Historian, I spend my days analyzing the context surrounding a work of art, I analyze the specific choice of colors within a painting, the meaning behind the gazing eyes in Michelangelo’s David and compare the classical proportions of sculpture in Bernini’s David. I over think and over analyze every single part of a work of art, and dive deep into the social, religious, political, economical, and every other contextual element occurring or influencing the works’ creation.


The first time I remember going to a museum was when I was 12 years old. My mother had just had serious surgery and the family was trying to get the girls (my sister and I) out of the house.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is one of the top  10 museums in the United States for its collections which include an incredible collection of Chinese Art, European Painting and Sculpture, American Art, Indian and Southwestern Asian Art, and it’s Modern and Contemporary galleries.


Staring at the Impressionist paintings by van Gogh, Monet, Pissaro, and losing every single thought in my head changed my life. I see now that each painting brought me into a meditative state, a clear minded peaceful no attachment to any thoughts, feelings, clear headed good kind of state.

Fast forward almost 12 years when I returned to college for my undergrad, I took an Art History course just to have a fun class to enjoy.

Fast forward 6 years to now. I have spent the past 5 years diving deeper into this love of art. I am writing my Master’s Thesis on the Buddhist Imagery and Philosophy in Paul Gauguin‘s paintings. This is a topic very few Art Historians have devoted much attention to, because Gauguin was a preeeeeettty crazed man. I’m also starting to teach young undergraduate minds in Art History, I take these young bucks on tours at the Nelson-Atkins now, and show them all the works of art I grew up loving, and in this I hope to give to them above all knowledge, but an appreciation and love for art for what it is.

I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) earlier this year for the first time and they have one of the largest Impressionists exhibits I’ve seen. I walked around, room to room, in a daze among the hundreds of other visitors, which I didn’t even see. I saw the room of Edgar Degas‘s dancers, with tears in my eyes, at the beauty of it all, and that I was there, witnessing it with such appreciation and awe.


The Impressionists were Buddhists. They captured the fleeting moments of time in and around Paris during the late 1800’s when the world around them was inflicted with disease, war, and poverty. In their paintings, I believe they sought a way out of the world of pain and suffering which surrounded them.  To me, this desire echoes in modern society: a way out. But more so for me, a way to help others. In helping others, we help ourselves. And vice versa, we are all connected, we are all one.

Art has completely changed my life. It has changed the way I look at life, the way I look at nature, joy, tragedy, miracles, and love. Life is art. Art is life. Learn to look at life as though it were a painting, beautiful, fleeting, and all the more deserving of present minded acceptance, and gratitude. Everything should be seen with an appreciation for its fleeting beauty and impermanence.



12 thoughts on “How Art Can Change Your Life.

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  3. amykrohn says:

    Interesting comments on the spiritual side of art. As a Christian and not a Buddhist, my own interpretations of impressionist art tend to concentrate on the beauty rather than the fleetingness. I’ve recently been thinking about Degas’ ballerinas, and the paintings speak about beauty in unexpected moments, from unexpected vantage points. This causes me to think not of the fleetingness of life, but rather of the mystery of God, and how He is in control of all things, even the little moments we think no one is looking.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Sara Ann says:

      Great insight, thank you. You are right, Degas was very much obsessed with giving the viewer a different, unexpected vantage point of ‘everyday’ scenes in Paris IE The Ballet/Ballet dancers, etc. Degas also chose his subject matter because of his interest in movement ALA Ballet dancers, singers/performers. He was also investigating beauty at unforeseen moments, another motive for him to obsessively paint scenes of bathers (again, the interest in body/form/movement, as well). Van Gogh actually underwent most of his formative life studying and preparing to be a theologian/priest/etc. Gauguin, not so much, but he often wrote about Christianity and God: his belief of and his understanding of. Theosophy was a popular movement in Paris/France at the time the Impressionists were working. The philosophy combined most of the beliefs about religion, while focusing some on eastern religions, but basically picking a component of each religion and applying it differently. It is an interesting time to study, at least I think so.

      ANd thank you for giving me your insights as to what you think about and see when considering these works, it is always a learning experience for me when I hear other people’s perspective on art!

      Thanks so much for your comment! I could go on talking about this forever, as is obvious 🙂 And thanks for stopping by!

  4. MRS N, the Author says:

    Art is one of the cornerstones to my childhood and it continues to influence me to this day! I love art and I try to support it as best as I can!

    Excellent blog post, Sara! 🙂

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