Friday, December 12, 2008

Art Blog: How did WE get here?

Speaking of my art house, I realized something today. When I have to have something fixed at my house, I know immediately if the workman/woman responds to creativity. I know if they have had art in their life. As soon as you walk up to my house, things are strange. Who has a mailbox like this?

They knock on the door and enter another world. My house is an art cave. You can’t help but notice things aren’t quite the same as our real world. They either enter open mouthed or they just ignore and go about their business. This causes me to think about the current zeitgeist regarding the visual arts in America.

This is such a complicated issue. I have taught students for a long time and realize art is not very important to many students (people in general?). Most often it is not honored as a curricular subject. It is still seen as silly. It is not something many want to do. There seems to be no purpose for it. In fact, many of my students feel it is a waste of time. They are too busy working on their career preparations for the NFL or trying to be the next “Lil Wayne” rap star.

Back in August, I made a video to show my students about art. It was called “Art is DUMB!” It is a cool, little video. I spliced together all the things in their lives that relate to visual art. I had video clips, fashions, cribs, etc. They didn’t get it.

Our society has a history of not “getting it”. This in part has to do with European culture. When our forefathers came here, they wanted to cut ties with the past. Since their former heritage had a lot to do with creativity, that was nixed to a degree. Consequently, our society has promoted new and different avenues of life. Art is not in the top ten of that list. This is such a shame and tragedy. We are all creative beings. We have generations of people who have never developed that part of their life.

It all starts in school. The type of education we have says it all. For those who have been well educated see the value and necessity to have art in our life and culture. However our society has a history of exposing the arts through little tidbits of information. To graduate high school, you might need one credit. It is not a big deal at all. I have a collection of old art education books. These have helped me to realize the continuum. Here are photos of an art education textbook from 1908. One hundred years ago! It is one of the most boring books I own. Most of the information has to do with very technical aspects of art. There is a lot about figure and animal anatomy. There are a number of chapters on design as it relates to utilitarian applications. Also, there is bunches written about perspective and technical drawing.


My question to you is how did you get HERE?
Why did you become an artist? Why do you care about art? WHY are you so different from the average American? Why do you think art is important?


Anonymous said...

Artists are different because we make something out of nothing all day long. And we can't really take anyone else with us, which is why some of us have problems with mates. I even had boyfriends who didn't like me writing (in my diary) everyday. Well, I was going to a place where I could not take them.

I invited to my wedding a childhood friend - hadn't seen her in many years but I grew up with her. She said it better than I could: "You never stop being an artist. When I come home, I'm no longer at my job. But you never stop doing yours. Even when you were ten, you were an artist."

And she's a nuclear Physicist!


Gayle said...

I've noticed the same thing about workers coming into my house and often wondered about it--whether it's distaste for the art on my walls or timidity about expressing interest or what. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm afraid I'm just the opposite. My husband and I went to an open house nearby and I was so enthralled with the owner's original artwork, I barely look at the house. I'm sure the realtor thought I was nuts! I'm not sure why I'm addicted to visual art, but wonder if a good therapist could help.

Sheree Rensel said...

I totally agree with the idea you are ALWAYS an artist. My ears perk up when I hear someone say "I am going to BE an artist!" That confuses me because I think you just ARE an artist.

I think this is one of the things I am having a problem with these days. There is such a push right now with this idea of art marketing, careerism, and general art related business hoopla, the true essence of an artist's life is being lost. If I wanted to make and pitch widgets, I would sell on the home shopping network. I think many of the newer artists don't understand the differences.

Sheree Rensel said...

You know, I have had a few "workers" come into my house and start talking art right away. However, it goes back to education or their own experiences. Inevitably, I find out they dabble or their sibling is an artist of some kind.

It is funny you mentioned the open house experience. The previous owners of my house were from Germany. The husband repaired "Hummel" figurines. There was a little kiln out where my studio is now. I had forgotten about when I came into this house for the first time. It looked nothing like it does now, but the very first thing I noticed was a little architectural sculpture this guy had made. It was in a little glass hutch next to the TV. I ran over and looked at it. It was a little, precise, hand built German village. It was so cool!

namastenancy said...

How did I get to be an artist? I've wondered that myself as I came from a right wing, very oppressive military family. However, we did live all over the world and I got to see museums galore; took to them like the proverbial duck to water. I remember when I was around 7 or 8. We used to get these booklets from the Met. Each one was on a different artist or a different art style and there were stickers to post on each page which laid out details of whatever the book was about. I remember telling my father that I wanted to be paint like Rubens - I think I was 8. I care so deeply about art because it's what saved my sanity and my soul in so many of the dark times of my life. There's a saying - "Art saves lives." In my case, I think that's true. As a country, we've lost so much by the lack of arts education and the dumbing down of the public. When I try to deal with the 20-something males who live above me, I am saddened by their narrow lives, focused on rap music and endless partying. They are a real pain in the neck but they live in an emotional wasteland. Art gives you soul.

Sheree Rensel said...

Oh Nancy! I can't believe this. I just wrote a long reply and inadvertently canceled it. DUH!!

What I said was I agree with you. You are lucky that your family at least took you to museums! I believe some are meant to be artists regardless and we find our way.

Also, I too believe art saves lives at times. I know it has saved mine and continues to do so.