I am taking a class with ArtFruition and there was an art education component to this week’s lesson. We were supposed to weigh in on art education and these are my thoughts on the topic. They’re a little scattered but it was sort of a freeform exchange. What are your thoughts?
I think the big thing for me is, as a traveling art minister, how many people will come up to me after a presentation and say “I can’t even draw a stick figure, or a straight line.” In truth, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said that to me, I probably could do what I do for free. I know they’re trying to compliment me, but I have to be honest, when I hear it, I wonder who criticized them and made them want to quit. I think this, because Picasso was right,” All children are artists, the problem is to remain one as one grows up. Unfortunately a lot of this blame falls to grading art and to a mentality that are is something to be outgrown. The horror stories you shared (stories of professors tearing up, bring and literally trashing student workP are more common than we’d think and I’d like to go and punch those people in the throat, in love, of course. Yes I am being facetious, I’m not a violent man, but I know the good making art can do in a person’s life and it breaks my heart to see so many people deprived of this outlet.
I think grading art is absurd. As long as Picasso and Pollack and Rembrandt can hang in the same museum, no one really has any business placing a value on it. I spent the last 16 years working for a music education organization and one thing I found maddening. These folks were constantly being challenged to show how their classes made people better mathematicians, etc. as if art only has value if it makes you good at something else. ARRGH! Why not give people the tools to create their very best work and get out of their way. Instead we tell some (most) people they’re not good enough and all of the sudden the arts become the realm of an anointed few who are deemed talented and the rest are forced into other things. I’m not saying everyone has what it takes to be professional, but everyone should have the means to express what is happening in their souls and if more people would have the opportunity to express these things, I think we would live in a happier, more joyful world.
Good teachers have the ability to do tremendous good. I remember one time when I was in third grade. I hated school in general, not because I was a bad student but because I was a human target, but on this particular day, my art teacher had given an assignment of a cut paper piece for thanksgiving. We were to make profile images of pilgrims and native Americans. I just gave it my best. At the end of the class the teacher, (Mrs. Kreitler) held up my piece as an example for the class. I am a 52 year old grandfather and I still vividly remember the assignment and he feeling. Someone was affirming me. I think that was probably what cemented in me that I wanted to be an artist.