First day of the year I ask class to look around at room, selves.
Clothing, jewelry, furniture, architecture, books and other
publications. I ask them to take a magazine out of their backpacks
and look at the photographs and layout, etc. I ask how they were
designed. Eventually everyone gets it: every people-made object in
this world has been designed. Then I asked them what kind of school
these many designers probably went to. What courses did they take?
In the end it dawns on students that not only is art education
important, it is a grand way to get a career. I then tell them
what salary a designer gets, right out of design school. Finally I
quote some dollar figures for the economy. When you take into
account media, along with objects, the number of jobs and the
amount of money is staggering. And, I tell them, it all started
when they were kids like you, in an art room like this. I send a
similar letter home to parents who may doubt the value of the
subject, and a copy of a study done by Joan Jeffries at Teachers
College, Columbia University five years ago that found artists are
stable members of society who contribute, work, volunteer, pay
taxes and bloom where they are planted. Look at the NYC
neighborhoods of SOHO, Park Slope, Lower East Side, etc. Artists
are by and large responsible for urban renewal in many cities.