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Some artists make art to communicate with a higher power outside
themselves--think of all the folk artists who work in rural areas who place
their pieces all over their yard. They don't care who sees it and selling
it isn't even in their heads. When asked by hip gallery owners why they do
what they do, most of them find it an absurd question. "I just do," they
say. Some artists communicate through the act of making, so verbal
explanations just aren't part of the process.
Its touchy with teens because we want to bring them out and get them to be
verbal about their thoughts and feelings, yet in my career as a teacher,
I've seen a lot of sensitive, creative spirits crushed by teachers who
demand conformity to their notions of communication. Art is personal and we
can't dictate its function for others. I believe in teaching kids art
criticism skills and art history, how to look at art and talk about it, but
they should never have to supply arbitrary definitions of their own work if
they don't want to or can't.