Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Today I got kind of snippy with my kiddies about engaging with contemporary art. If you're not into art that's happening now, what's the point of being in art school? Why pay all that money if you just deride and dismiss anything that's not an easily digestible image on canvas (from the Renaissance)? Why is this anachronistic stronghold so prevalent at UT?

I thought of this comparison post-class:

It's like a med student saying, "I prefer to use Inquisition medical technology, because it's better made. Those torture devices were really stellar. MRI's? Whatever, I really think sawing someone's head open shows a much greater talent and appreciation for the body."

You know I love many things retro, but sheesh, you have to actually attempt to understand what's going on in the art world (and why) to make any kind of smart arguments against it.


Axel said...

You have to admit that a head being sawed open is pretty damned interesting and thought provoking. MRI? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Your anecdote reminds me of Brauntuch.

This may come as a surprise, but not everyone loves or has loved Art as long as you or I.
Shocking, I know.

As a product of UT, my experience was enjoyable. Yet, I did notice that I was in the company of those that did not understand art beyond what pop culture told them.

Its a good art school, but it is not an "art school". You're gonna get some lay-people. Hell, I went in to make cartoons and look how I turned out!

Good job on challenging your students.

Anonymous said...

You know....maybe thats not a single persons job to make those points? Many people, especially faculty at UT, struggle with contemporary art issues and few have enough time to read sufficiently to "profess" there supposed expert knowledge. I seriously wonder if some of the faculty actually read arfforum or just hold onto it like a cosmo. In fact, you would be lucky to have an actual tenured professor while attending UT. The standard now is a recien hecho grad student playing teacher. Do we get a discount in our tuition? Someday maybe I'll do a piece about shitty art school profs.
I think the real problem you are concerned about has nothing to do with the student body. It has to do with how and by who art is taught, the happy go lucky hippy teachers v. the art nazi rollercoaster ride is annoying and actually sadly funny at times. If you can get over the high percentage of ADD and dyslexic professors who take themselves too seriously you are doing pretty darn good. As far as us dumb drawing students needing to be taught a lesson– it should have something to do with perception, maybe pick up a (heaven forbid) textbook on contemporary ways of teaching drawing, there are some good ones that are not what you probably think they are. Art should be about how to see our world through our OWN eyes and also how to recognize issues on a formal level and encourage independent conceptual growth when people feel they need to. Leave high ideas on an appropriate level and make them come to it. For some reason professors think that students who now take AP calculus in ninth grade cant fathom any other way of abstract thinking. You aren't gonna win a bucky beaver badge for enlightening our depraved youth.
Certainly it's easy to see that your students are responding to the craftsmanship of the renaissance which should be commended not ridiculed. Sure, there are other ways to achieve quality that dont entail high degrees of craft, but its naurally the first thing that you respond to growing up. Do we really need someone to tell us what quality is comprised of?
I dont call that a challenge I call it annoying. Get off of your high horse. Take the you out of it and teach something about drawing.
I still love ya though

Alison P. Kuo said...

Anonymous, you forgot to mention professors who so belabor craft that students are discouraged from investigating contemporary art that they might otherwise find attractive. If you'd ever had this experience you might not be so quick to dismiss what you can learn from the nontenured.

One of the greatest services professors can do for students is to open them up to new ideas, whether it be pointing them towards unfamiliar artists or asking them to do drawing exercises that might seem unconventional. It's up to the students to be receptive as well as critical.

Ali Fitzgerald said...

Jesus, I just got back from Dallas to find this shit.

Anon---some good, points, albeit quite presumptuous on your part. My post was a little high-horsey, but I was discouraged by the level of thought that goes into student anti-contemporary diatribes. They can love the Renaissance, and I still do by the way. But there's a difference in making Renaissance-inspired paintings and making Renaissance rip-offs. My point is not that students should only know one thing, but they should know multiple methodologies and histories: They should know WHY they don't like Donald Judd.

I like craft. I like teaching people to draw. I draw really fucking good. I talk about anatomy, line etc. Maybe not as much as my colleagues, but in my opinion more than enough.

But there's more out there. And if you're not going to engage with the art world (or any facet of that) then stop paying me money (however misspent it may be).

Salvador: I also went to school to cartoon, so I understand "laypeople," but I was also curious about other types of art. Curious, not always impressed.

Anonymous said...

Okay, you made yer point, I dont mean to be spiteful and maybe yer blog aint the best place to grind this axe but you brought it up. I never once specifically said that fresh off the press grad students were inherently not good teachers. Thats not what I'm talking about that would be a silly thing to say and a silly thing to assume I meant. You know what I meant, I went to UT and had the good fortune to attend another school before it–so I can stand back and compare and be critical. I just find it annoying that it is as common as it is to have a grad student as a teacher, its kinda like the annoying coincidence of having two presidents whose last name is Bush. If you follow, is it really likely that they are selected for the right reasons or is it just convenient. The reason my comment was a little fiesty was because the other comments were a little less heady and seemed to like you had a fan base that mindlessly agreed to everything you said. One even labels some of your students as "lay people." If you want to challenge them great but thats really not a choice– it yo job. I'm glad you mix contemporary with historical. But the future of art is not contemporary nor historcal it is in the head of yer students. I think were saying the same thing its just a matter of getting there first. Peace.

Alison P. Kuo said...

"The standard now is a recien hecho grad student playing teacher. Do we get a discount in our tuition? Someday maybe I'll do a piece about shitty art school profs."