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On Thu, 30 May 1996, Sandra Hildreth wrote:
> And it's really hard to explain to high school students. They see
> examples of contemporary art and ask how some things can sell for tens of
> thousands of dollars. I try to remain non-judgemental and suggest that some
> contemporary art is just so innovative, or provokes such significant
> thinking, or is somehow evolving from earlier art forms - and therefore has
> received much attention. That attention leads to gallery shows and
> purchases by investors and collectors who want to have the very latest
> styles. But the kids have a hard time accepting this - "why is it art?"
> they ask. Because someone created it? Anyone out there have ideas on how
> you can explain this?
Consider looking at "art" with your students in different ways, in
positive AND negative ways. Is it possible to see ART less as an
overridding monolith or a single truth or thing?
Clearly SOME people out in the world do believe that such things are art.
In some ways, Rather like the emperor's new clothes don't you think? I
don't know that we all have to agree that IT IS art. After all critics
and aestheticians don't seem to have any qualms about speaking out their
own beliefs about what IS and what IS NOT art. Part of the point is how
well they understand their beliefs and how deeply they have explored
them. Some of these difficult works seem to have been created (at least
in part) to evoke just such exploration. I think I would have to be an
artist very lacking in self-confidence to take exception to people saying
that my "art" was not, in fact, art.
The question is not so much "WHY" but HOW is something art or not art.
What are the qualities and how do they effect the outcome of our experiences?
Its possible that there is more than one "ArtWorld" that there indeed
MANY of them and those folks who inhabit the rarified air of economic
bliss have a very different Art world that the one that we have. it may
be that little is shared between the se disparate artworlds but it would
be interesting to reflect upon WHAT IS SHARED don't you think?
The point may not be to answer the question of what IS art or the
questions of "Is it art?" or even "Why is it art?" As educators in this
era the question seems to have less to do with definition than it has to
do with making the connection to art and finding a personal place for i
in our lives.
In trying to be positive about art, it seems that we have given people
the impression that they have to like ALL of it! Much better I think to
be able to articulate why we don't like Schnables or Seurats or Cezannes
than the feel stupid because we do not yet seem to appreciate them as