Art: Embracing Cultural Differences

You can learn a lot about a person by seeing where they come from and taking the time to know their culture (SOURCE:

If you’ve ever had an e-mail pen pal from a country you can’t quite pronounce, you know what I’m talking about when I say that where a person lives connects a lot to how they see and live their life.

This is especially true when it comes to art.

Every country you visit will have its own traditions, its own culture, its own quirks that make that place its own nation. The artwork Earth’s countries produce tell a lot about a nation’s history, beliefs, hardships, and peoples. It is definitely worthwhile to look at, listen, and travel to different places in order to expand your own world.

One thing I hear a lot is that Asia is considered its own super-nation by many who have not been to one of the many countries there. They look at the large text for the continent on a map, but seem to just skim over all the names, capitals, mountain ranges, and rivers that divide one of our world’s most beautiful landscapes into separate cultures and people.

The differences in Asian art between its countries display a ton about how Japan, Korea, and China especially differ. In fact, when I see modern art and scan backwards towards classic and ancient art, the paintings, music, sketches, and poetry create a timeline through which these three nations have grown, separated, reconnected, hurt, gained knowledge and moved forward.

Chinese artwork is and probably will continue to be some of the most elegant and mysterious pieces of work I have ever witnessed. They can hold their own when it comes to Hollywood glamour, but no matter what art China produces, it keeps the core of its nation at heart, which I consider a rarity in our fast-paced, open and worldly-experienced society.

Japanese artwork, to me, captures that feeling you get when you’re seeing something amazing for the first time, and it’s there to stay. They focus on revealing rawer emotions without muddied complications; however, when they do add the complexities of the rest of the world, they pull it off splendidly.

Korea has found a nice blend of their traditional ways and the modern world. They still have their folk towns, era television shows, and classic music. But they also have adopted western music style and molded it into their own creation.

Europe is a tougher region to analyze, given that every country has had its share of wear and tear. The people live together, it is an easy task to travel between boarders, and people living in the countries inside Europe’s center are bilingual, or at the very least knowledgeable of outside current issues. If you look hard enough, however, differences are there, and each country has their own personality. Whether it’s subtle or explosive depends on the nation.

And last but not least, the homeland. America is a hard cookie to crack. Many nations have brought their styles here, and people here embrace one or several of them into their way of life. America has a mixing pot full of ideals, sounds, colors, and ways when it comes to making art. Honestly, I’m not quite sure if it’s possible to identify all the artwork I have seen here on the Bellevue College campus, throughout Seattle, and across every state to the East coast and back.

Every nation has its own outlook, its own way of living, breathing, seeing. If we can expand how we see the world just by going to a French Art Gallery or an African Music class, we may be surprised at what we see. We may also be surprised at the idea that maybe no one, no matter where they come from or what culture they were raised in, is that different from ourselves.