I wanted to take a moment to pass on some thoughts from a colleague of mine – Stacey Cann – who is a tireless advocate for the importance of art education. Stacey has been a driving force at Harcourt House Artist-Run Centre for a number of years now, and has developed some great art-ed programs there, including the Art Bus Tours, which are beginning right away. (yes, this is a very broad hint to check it out!)
Here’s a great guest article Stacey recently wrote for the blog Prairie Seen; I think it touches on a number of really important ideas with respect to the impact of art education in society as a whole. Most pertinent (to my mind anyway) is Stacey’s observations regarding the impact of art education on practising artists: the didactic information supplied in galleries, the endless (and sometimes endlessly obscure) artist statements provided at exhibitions and elsewhere, and many more … in short, the role of art education in situating the work artists do.
Some great food for thought here – I’d love to hear your comments the ideas she presents.
Couldn’t agree with you more! I think there are many instances in which the ‘art world’ does itself (and its potential audience) a huge disservice by being obscure and pretentious. To my mind, it boils down to choice: we can communicate in a straightforward manner (and thereby potentially reach more people), or we can build walls between our work and the rest of the world in the name of “specialness” and “exclusivity.” I’ll choose the former over the latter any day – and Stacey makes this point as well. I can’t count the number of times I have been at openings in cities across this country, and the conversation between artists has devolved to a good set of rants about how opaque/pretentious/uber-intellectual/artspeak-heavy an artist’s statement or a talk has been. I find it thoroughly disheartening and off-putting. For a great take on these issues, I’d recommend the 2014 Reith Lectures (on the BBC web site) by Grayson Perry. Funny, salient, intelligent, and straightforward. In short, a breath of fresh air.
The art world is viewed, I think, by many people as a exclusive, dense, confusing and obscure, and full of people who use big words and generally take themselves too seriously. I think art education is a vital part of it, but it’s not the whole picture. I also think that the art world needs to do more work to make itself more accessible.