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visual culture and basic art skills

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From: wendy free (wendfree_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Apr 25 2002 - 19:16:56 PDT


in my view, conceptual art - the art of ideas - can be thought of as near
the top of a sort of art hierarchy. its almost...esoteric?

one of my core beliefs derived from my own education/experiences, from
watching middle and high school students over the past 14 years, and from my
relationship with my younger sister, a recent art school graduate: it is
very difficult to make "idea art" that is successful in an aesthetic or
communicative sense without a strong background in studio skills and art
history/criticism. drawing and painting - being able to effectively
represent - i believe to be the foundation for all that follows. the
elements and principles of design and a more than basic knowledge of the
history of art forms from diverse peoples and locales enables artists -and
art students- to develop a personal repertoire of ways to express and be
recognized and understood. technical skills and background knowledge are
essential to development as an artist and as a manager of visual culture.
without them it seems to me one is operating in a vacuum, or groping for the
light switch in the dark. of course we should make every attempt to connect
technical art skills and knowledge of historic artforms with the world we
live in here and now. i can't imagine arguing against that. but i think it
is doing students a disservice to encourage them to "display their way cool
ideas" and to digest and interpret others' without providing them with the
means to do so. i think the reason, when given freedom to create whatever
they choose, students often draw pot leaves or cartoon characters or
absolutely nothing, is that they either have a deficient store of visual
possibilities to explore (anybody remember broudy's writing about this?) or
that they have too few art making skills to express what they would like to.
or both.

my 2 cents!

wendy

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