Sunday, February 15, 2009

Art in a Stormy World

It's a stormy Sunday here in the Bay Area. I count my blessings with every rain drop that is falling - placating fears of drought. A nice reminder that when dark clouds gather, it is not all gloom and doom. Each rain burst yields the vital resource of water - cleansing and nourishing the world around me.

Today's New York Times offered an unexpected reminder of the upside of a stormy economy for the artworld. Holland Cotter in his article, "The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art!," offers the optimistic view that in these down economic times, the commercial art world may suffer, yet the art itself may flourish. He looks backward at the innovation that came from artists in earlier financially challenged times, and also looks forward, offering prescient questions about what art making and art education could become. His article left me with a feeling of deep curiousity about the future of art in America, and many good questions about what role I as an artist can play in today's changing world.
Below is an excerpt - you could read the whole article on the New York Times web site.

"At the same time, if the example of past crises holds true, artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again.

Art schools can change too. The present goal of studio programs (and of ever more specialized art history programs) seems to be to narrow talent to a sharp point that can push its way aggressively into the competitive arena. But with markets uncertain, possibly nonexistent, why not relax this mode, open up education?
Why not make studio training an interdisciplinary experience, crossing over into sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, poetry and theology? Why not build into your graduate program a work-study semester that takes students out of the art world entirely and places them in hospitals, schools and prisons, sometimes in-extremis environments, i.e. real life? My guess is that if you did, American art would look very different than it does today...."

No comments: