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TalentOne of the first times I gave any thought as an artist to becoming an elementary art teacher was when I ran into a used copy of Feldman's "Becoming Human Through Art" In the used book store. The book talked about so many of the places I was trying to go as an artist and it really supported and validated the inclusion of the anthropological perspective on art on a par with the historical and critical perspectives. I especially liked Feldman's title and the notion that we become more fully human THROUGH art.
From that perspective, maybe the New York Foundation for the Arts claim: "If Imagination and Creativity Alone Made Art, We Could All Be Artists" could be made more accurate if we made it "GREAT Artists" or "PROFESSIONAL Artists" instead of simply Artists. If we do become human or MORE human through art then art and being an artist are a part of every human's heritage. If you are human then by definition you are an artist and given that license.. if you SAY it is art art it is. Just possibly not very great art in many peoples opinion. While most small scale or tribal societies recognize specialists and experts; nothing prevents a soul from being an artist. In our culture we've managed to scare most people off of exploring that possibility in their lives. I tend to think that is an almost criminal shame. Art can extend far beyond the realm of pretty, aesthetic, and thoughtful objects. And, because, far more frequently than not, we act on, and reason through, our perception--those who have the opportunity to contribute the most to the field of things we perceive also have the greatest opportunity to influence the shapes and textures of our lives. For this reason art has often been coopted by the great institutions and applied to more mundane and pragmatic work in order to profit those same institutions: political, economic, or spiritual.
I would argue that the more committed participants that we as art teachers can generate the more human and more balanced this mediation of our mutual lives can be. I am not suggesting we create a world of 60's political guerrilla artists--(what a waste that was)--just people who aren't afraid of being artists at some level and expressing themselves as artists. I think the rest will sort itself out more effectively and ecolofgically than any manifesto or plan. Human creativity and talent will respond.
The other part of the NYFA's statement included: "It takes an awesome imagination, a gifted talent, an original mind and consuming desire to overcome the seduction of technique, materials or craft - to make art... What a remarkable process creating is--giving back more, the more we risk" and there you have it. How many awesome and gifted artists fell through the cracks before they struggled into our awareness? Early on we teachers obviously miss more of these gifted potential contributors than we find and we do find the most obviously gifted. Better to assume perhaps that they all have this kind of potential or at least that one or two of these gifted are hidden in every class like a Cracker Jack prize and make an effort to help every child to find their special gift---major or minor.
As Patty writes "Risk Taking is more about SELF-ESTEEM than Creativity." SO TRUE!
Patty also wrote: "The art students think that ideas come from some magical place in their heads and that they can't get ideas from something someone else has done" ---------Boy did I waste a lot of time (10 years at least) on that impoverished idea! I got so damn unique that while the galleries ooh'd and ah'd they would end up saying they had no market that it fit and no idea who among their clientel to market the work to. Then maybe they'd buy something for their personal collection. Sheeesh! BUT I did learn the value of scouring the oldest art imagery I could find from the most obscure places and times and eventually even the value of the photography shelves in the used bookstore! What is art for? Look at the oldest stuff and the stuff made by people for whom survival is the most difficult and who have little time to waste on fru-fru frivolity.
Hmmm maybe I should start out my Kindergartners and First graders with cheap $14 digital cameras this year? Turn 'em into photographers FIRST! Better head over to McFrugals today!!!
You rule Patty!
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