The topic of Art School Education, which, one way or another, affects all of us, is once again in the air. People have some pretty strong opinions about it, with good reason.
Most Americans have no access to art education, period. Funding for art education in public schools has been on the decline for decades. In general, art education starts too late for those who are interested in making art.
I’ve always felt that art school works best for those who enroll already knowing what kind of artist they want to be. School then becomes an opportunity to incubate ideas and forms that are already on the cusp of resolutionit affords the right artist just the right amount of time to focus, achieve clarity, push, and give birth to a serious, professional art practice.
I am a professor up at Columbia, and I find the time to teach because I do love it. When art schools work, I believe it’s for the same reason they have ever worked.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked by CalArts if I would agree to participate in a survey about my experiences there when I was a student. I did, and it was an eye-opener.
We all think better in the shower, don’t we? Though we see things most clearly by looking closely at them, perhaps we invent things best by not.
Art education seems like something that needs a bit of shaking up. I went to an art school that had seen better days. There was one great drawing teacher and a bit of art history but as a prominent art dealer who also went to the same school said to me recently, it’s not a place you go if you want a career.
I love art schools. They are just the only place where artists as students and teachers come together to talk about what makes works of art function; where issues of intentionality, syntax, and the responsibilities of authorship are regularly considered; and where success in galleries and the market is hardly ever a topic of conversation.
Law schools make lawyers. Engineering schools make engineers. Brain-surgery schools make brain surgeons. Art schools don’t make artists.