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Lesson Plans

Re: Blue Trees

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Teresa Tipton (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 11:52:31 -0700 (PDT)

For years my mother told me that college ruined my art and I didn't know
exactly what she meant because at the time my art was completely
obliterated. I can echo all the experiences that have been mentioned but
University art departments have been the most ruthless. Partly because
people bought into the new york model in the early '70's that said all art
must be different and unique and conceptual and no one living should have
done what you're doing before, so it's trivial, redundant, and cliche if
its recognizeable. Critiques were a slash and burn session of what's wrong
with your work and why it doesn't work, which for me doing figurative work
was enough. An instructor would go through work saying, "yes" "No" "Yes"
"no" about which pieces were good or bad without explanation or if there
was explanation, it was always with the graduate t.a.'s because the prof's
were having their session with the protoges at a local bar.

I had one teacher in art school, however, who used to walk
by and put a line through your figure drawing if he didn't like it. The
first time it happened to me, I was in utter shock, but his philosophy
was, if you can do it once, you can do it again, so start over and make
it right. I learned to not put so much emphasis on the piece I was
working on, making it so precious...but in the long run, as traumatized as
I was by the experience, I can say I learned to most from him as a

Which is to say something about making lemonade from lemons...
and that in the end, one person's style will stimulate some and stifle
others. Were these "bad" teachers? Or I was too timid and vulnerable?
There were perhaps bad methods; erroneous beliefs; mistaken

I've come to think that even these traumas are somehow necessary to
learning how to "co-create" an experience; what I mentioned earlier as
our need to "reimage the box."

Spending the last five weeks in former communist countries, when I hear
the stories of oppression and see the results in the work that people
still did in secrecy in threat of their livlihood and safety, their
careers, and even sometimes their lives - I don't think these things were
so bad afterall. It's all relative, isn't it?

What should be mentioned is that no matter how abusive the situation, art
cannot be killed unless we are. Even in Auschwitz, people drew pictures.
The art survives because it is part of our spiriit, our souls. And
ultimately, hopefully, we are facilitators of its expression. And we all
had a few shitheads in our lives along the way.

Teresa Tipton