Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 28 Jul 06 11:42
While we wait for Ted to collect his thoughts about art education (a topic he could talk about for hours!) I'm wondering, Donna, if you'd be willing say more about "Practice Led Research"? And is that Friedman discussion publicly available? I hoping too that you might want to share some to the practices you have come up with to keep your vision authentic and fresh while also responding to commercial demands.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 28 Jul 06 12:18
Another apologia (sigh) --- I see that Gails post (which I referred to in my previous entry) was actually #22, not #38 I have no idea how I came up with the latter number. Chris asked (in Post #23) about feedback thats come in so far from readers of The View. So far Ive received maybe a dozen in-depth emails or letters, as well as being directed to numerous blog entries. Its all proven been extremely helpful enough so that Im already re-thinking several passages and/or topics. My hope is to make mid-course corrections to the text that will reflect (in a future printing) the new ideas that have come in from readers. I dont want to short-circuit or pre-empt or slant this online conversation *today* by detailing specific points others have made there should be lotsa time to get into that in the coming days. I will say, however, that the issue that seems to most attract readers attention (at least so far) has centered around the (inwardly-directed) question What makes my art MATTER, along with the corollaries like What drives me to make art? and What is the content of my art? and for that matter "What IS content?" Im also rapidly gaining a sense for the degree to which The View From the Studio Door is the view from MY studio door in other words, the degree to which my own conceptual blinders were already in place when I wrote this text. More on that later, perhaps
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 28 Jul 06 12:31
<my own conceptual blinders were already in place> You cannot imagine how amusing that is to read. Ted's work has always made me think that he lives in a *completely* different world than the one I live in. I rarely see the things Ted sees. And when I do, I laugh because I recognize as Ted's world. In fact, isn't that the gift we bring when we make *our* own work, when we find *our* vision and finally let go of our teachers and mentors?
Richard (rhenley) Fri 28 Jul 06 13:03
That appears to be the source of my confusion then with this, I'm interested in why Ted did Art and Fear, I've owned the book since it was initially published. Other than nibbling at it then, I've not read it. I suspect my reticence with it has to do with this mention he made, <David & I shared the conviction that the essential first step to building a life in the arts is simply getting past the obstacles that keep that initial brushstroke from ever reaching the canvas in the first place. Art & Fear attempted to provide advice & strategies for reaching precisely that end.> It's always been my opinion that one either does their own work or not. Ted, do you see alot of fear at the root of blocking this process ?
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Fri 28 Jul 06 14:27
And just to provide evidence for my assertion that Ted lives in a very different world from the world I live in, check these out: http://www.tedorland.com/classic/guarddog.html http://www.tedorland.com/handcolored/yuppies.html http://www.tedorland.com/holga/t-rex.html http://www.tedorland.com/color/forest_socal.html
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Fri 28 Jul 06 15:23
I think, though, that we *all* live in different worlds, and that a measure of how successful we are at pursuing our own art is how much our own work causes other people to look at it and say "how did you *see* that?" The corrollary to that, of course, is that often my own work looks obvious to me, because that's how I see. Certainly it was an important moment in my career when I realized that, although I was fond of Ansel's work, I personally had nearly no interest in landscape as a subject, and that that was OK... my work took a huge leap after that.
Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 28 Jul 06 20:27
Hi Richard (post #29), I agree entirely with you when you say, It's always been my opinion that one either does their own work or not. (I may have even said it in those same words at some point.) But the question is: If you should find yourself, at some point, among those who are *not* doing work, is there anything that can be done about that, or do you just go dig a hole and climb in and die? Theres a passage near the beginning of Art & Fear that validates your view, but then goes on to lay the groundwork getting onto the productive side of the Go/NoGo chasm: Those who would make art might well begin by reflecting on the fate of those who preceded them: most who began, quit. It's a genuine tragedy. Worse yet, it's an unnecessary tragedy. After all, artists who continue and artists who quit share an immense field of common emotional ground viewed from the outside, in fact, they're indistinguishable. We're all subject to a familiar and universal progression of human troubles troubles we routinely survive, but which are (oddly enough) routinely fatal to the artmaking process. To survive as an artist requires confronting these troubles. Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue or more precisely, have learned how to not quit. For all of you who are unfamiliar with its basic premise, Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it *doesnt* get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. It doesnt pull any punches along the way. A&F is not some feel-good pop psychology book -- I am NOT interested in freeing your inner child! And yes, in the end we all return to our studios to grapple, alone, with our art. And either we make our art, or we dont. Its just that Im not quite ready to leave that outcome entirely in the hands of the fates....
Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 28 Jul 06 21:31
(This entry refers back to post #24) Hi Donna, Yup, art education is a large, prickly subject I usually avoid it like the plague! I wouldnt know where to begin -- and Im not sure Id even WANT to begin -- to formulate an academic structure for fostering creativity. In fact I have grave doubts that any single approach -- regardless of its virtues would work better than simply allowing students to choose what works best for them from among an eclectic array of different learning poissibilities For example, there are two separate digital photography courses -- offered by two different departments -- at the community college where I teach. Viewing it entirely at the structural level, one of those courses uses carefully guided tutorials to guide the student to precisely defined visual results. The other course asks students to conjure up in their mind an image theyd like to create, and then essentially lets them muck around looking for the right tools to reach that end. Some students find tutorials stultifying and mentally claustrophobic, while others find that same structure offers clear feedback and reassurance that theyre on the right track. Likewise, some students blossom in a free-form learning environment, while others feel like theyre drifting around aimlessly. Theres no Good/Bad judgment to me made there the success or failure of either approach for any particular individual all depends on how their synapses are connected. So I guess my question would be: can you formulate an approach to fostering creativity that honors the different (and often mutually contradictory) ways that different individuals learn? And what would that approach look like? (Lastly, I should add that I heartily support any & all efforts to bring the artist back into the equation in formulating ways to foster creativity within academia. If I missed the thrust of your posting, just rephrase or expand upon it a bit and fire it back to me again.
Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Sat 29 Jul 06 04:15
>Likewise, some students blossom in a free-form learning environment, while others feel like theyre drifting around aimlessly. Theres no Good/Bad judgment to me made there the success or failure of either approach for any particular individual all depends on how their synapses are connected.< This statement could well apply to a large chunk if not all of human endeavors. The presumption behind formal learning is that humans collectively can consciously shape the society in which they live. This is probably true to some degree depending on the aspect of society involved and true enough to tempt social engineers to think they have most of the levers of control. I think the evidence is fairly clear that only a small fraction of human mental processing is conscious. So what is happening at the synapses is only partially accessible to individual consciousness let alone formal systems of learning. While this may be frustrating to social engineers, it could well be a saving grace not only for the arts but for overall human development.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sat 29 Jul 06 06:36
And then there's this... <So I guess my question would be: can you formulate an approach to fostering creativity that honors the different (and often mutually contradictory) ways that different individuals learn? And what would that approach look like?> ...balanced on the fact that usually a single instructor - with their own specific gifts and limitations - is doing the teaching at any given moment. At workshops, Ted, you often address this - in part - by team-teaching (usually with David Bayles.) Have you found ways to work with students that honors the different ways of learning? Or is it a question of simply remaining aware of the limitations?
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sat 29 Jul 06 11:15
<...balanced by the fact that usually a single instructor - with their own specific gifts and limitations - is doing the teaching at any given moment. ...Have you found ways to work with students that honors the different ways of learning? Or is it a question of simply remaining aware of the limitations?> Chris, your last observation (phrased as a question) hits the nail squarely: Yes, its a matter of being aware of your own limitations -- or at the least understanding that you HAVE limitations even if youre not aware of them. (Almost by definition, its hard to see beyond your own conceptual universe ) So taking that example from the digital photography courses, for instance, Im genuinely happy that theres someone out there teaching the same material in an entirely different manner. Personally, Id go stark raving mad after about two minutes of slow-motion plodding thru some follow-the-bouncing-ball tutorial leading me in lockstep thru some exercise I didnt need toward some pre-ordained result I didnt want. (Can you sense my bias here ?) The point is, I dont learn that way, Id hate to have to teach that way and as a result wouldnt be a very good teacher anyway if I had to work within that teaching mode. So I do the best I can with the tools I have -- and try like mad on opening day to let everyone know what theyre in for. My friend who teaches that same course in opposing fashion would say much the same about her approach. I think the greatest strength of our educational system is probably its sheer diversity, and thus its ability to offer the student a chance to pick between many often-opposing educational strategies. The irony is that that strength may simply be the unintended consequence of the systems rampant inefficiency. Without the sludge of bureaucracy, departmental territoriality, and the tradition of faculty autonomy, that diversity would have long since been stuffed into some little box representing the prevailing educational theory du jour.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sat 29 Jul 06 23:25
So - most of us are long out of school - and the issues we face are very different. Earlier, you mentioned that many of your responses from readers of 'The View From The Studio Door' have asked variations on this question: What makes my art MATTER? Is that even a useful question? Personally, I could see myself paralyzed by a question like that. What do you answer when readers ask that question?
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 10:47
Someone posted this link over in the <news> conference that I think is apt for this conversation. It is a quote from a talk by Sir Ken Robinson. "Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one, doesn't matter where you go. You'd think it would be otherwise but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on earth. And in pretty much every system, too, there's a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies. Don't we? Did I miss a meeting? Truthfully what happens is, as children grow up we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads, and slightly to one side." The full - and fascinating -talk is here: http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=ken_robinson
Carl LaFong (mcdee) Sun 30 Jul 06 11:12
Right, I'll have to go read that. My own feeling is that math is dramatically over-emphasized. With the exception of statistics, which is under-emphasized. Given that most people don't become, say, electrical engineers, they end up learning a bunch of math that they never ever use again in their lives.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 13:32
Another quote from that Robinson talk: 'If you are not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with something original.'
Randy Swann (randyswann) Sun 30 Jul 06 15:27
Or, as my painting instructor in college, David Loeffler Smith, used to say, "A bad painting is better than a good idea!" We were taught to overcome our fear and high self-expectations by simply working a LOT - painting a LOT, or drawing, sculpting, etc. The thinking part came later. If we didn't come into the Friday crit without an armful of paintings, we were mud!
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 30 Jul 06 16:10
Chris wrote (in Post #37): < Earlier, you mentioned that many of your responses from readers of 'The View From The Studio Door' have asked variations on this question: What makes my art MATTER? Is that even a useful question? Personally, I could see myself paralyzed by a question like that. > Most readers of The View whom Ive heard from on the issue have been individuals who (for the most part) dont even call themselves artists. Among that group, many have been quilters, who have developed an amazingly active blogging community where they trade views on such things. And it seems that when they voice the question What makes my art matter?, they do so more as a rhetorical statement of self-doubt than from a desire to resolve the question intellectually. What theyre searching for (as we all are, of course) is some form of validation for their efforts. In the case of the quilters -- and other genre that are widely viewed as being near-art -- the problem is systemic, and has little to do with what any individual artist is accomplishing in that medium. That systemic problem arises in several forms. Let me come at the issue tangentially and -- just to stir things up a bit -- offer a theory about one facet of the problem: If you look at art as its represented in academia and museums and art history texts, theres a classical hierarchy that runs about as follows: Painting Sculpture Printmaking Drawing Ceramics Jewelry making Fiber arts Design and broadly speaking, that is also a hierarchy that runs from male-dominated to female-dominated artforms. The history of painting, for instance -- purely as represented in most any standard art history text -- is essentially the history of paintings by dead white males. In essence, the more male-dominated the medium, the more seriously its taken. No wonder the quilters feel disenfranchised as artists: theyre doomed -- before the first stitch is made -- to see their highest efforts viewed as craft or hobby. ----- P.S. After a couple of days here on The Well, Im realizing that Im kinda missing out on the conversational aspect of this dialogue by pondering each posting for too long -- by the time I formulate a response, everyone else has moved on to other things. Ill try harder to keep up with things
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 30 Jul 06 16:59
Ive found that simply telling myself that I *should* make a lot of art is about as effective as telling myself I should lose ten pounds in other words, that theory hasnt panned out once in the past twenty years. What does work for me are deadlines -- usually for shows or publications in my case, for assignments or projects in the case of my students. Being part of an artists group is even better, providing the gentle peer pressure of friends to stay in the game, as it were, and have something new to show at the next gathering. But as a photographer I also discovered and it took me *years* to realize this deep profound underlying truth about artmaking -- that the very best predictor of whether or not I will make a new photograph on any given day is...whether or not I have my camera with me. (Yet another good reason to carry a four-ounce Holga rather than a forty pound view camera.)
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 18:57
<Ill try harder to keep up with things > I wouldn't worry about that too much, Ted. It is not all that uncommon on the Well to have a couple of simultaneous conversational threads in one topic. Now back to the topic at hand. I found myself facing a different dilemma recently. I spent three days at PhotoSF last weekend and found myself a little overwhelmed - both by the images made , but also by what *wasn't* represented. There are many photographs that are *not* being taken now - or if they are - they are not recognized as fine art. On the drive home the last day, I found myself deep in thought about those missing photographs and how to make them in the midst of the current technological shifts. (Part of that questions stems from the sense that the missing photographs need to me made with film - or quite possibly, I haven't mastered digital enough to make them digitally.)
therese (therese) Sun 30 Jul 06 19:57
Could you say a little bit more about the 'missing' photographs? What, specifically, did you expect to see, but didn't?
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 20:15
It wasn't what I was expecting to see that was missing - it was a sense that much of the present moment wasn't being captured and or/validated (through inclusion in that scene.) I suspect that if I spent more time on Flickr or related sites, I might see the *imagery* that was missing - but there (seems to be) no one championing work that reflects us back to ourselves in a meaningful way.
therese (therese) Sun 30 Jul 06 20:42
Do you think it has to do with a different pace that digital imaging allows? The world is suddenly awash in images, quantity vs. quality, so much of the work seems unfinished. I know that I find myself trying to be more deliberate in my approach, taking the time to look at the shots I've taken and process them both physically and mentally. Maybe film provided the room for reflection just by the time required to process each piece.
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 20:51
I was thinking similar thoughts durng that drive home. In one sense, our world is phenomenally documented, but in another sense, it is never, or rarely seen. I'm sure Ted has thought much on this subject as well....particularly since he gets to see what and how young students photograph. Ted?
Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 30 Jul 06 21:19
I think that Chris experience with the missing subject matter is emblematic of the degree to which it's become a fact of life today that for something to be considered fine art, it must first pass muster by the fine art establishment. If an artists work does not achieve some critical mass of exhibition, publication, critical review, artificial rarity, auction track record, collectibility and gallery representation, its simply ignored. It may exist, but like the tree falling in the deserted forest, who knows about it, and hence, who cares? Thats a fairly harsh assessment, but that it is, in some measure, the view from the artists studio door. The ongoing question is how any individual artist artist, often working in isolation, deals with the skewed response of the so-called art world, which smiles upon only tiny slice of the artistic spectrum. If you visit Chris website -- http://www.chrisflorkowski.com -- youll see that she has committed some grave artistic sins. For instance, she makes images that in the old-fashioned sense of the term are -- gasp! -- Beautiful. That in itself brings her close to excommunication, but she further compounds it by photographing the subject of backyard hobbiests: Flowers. When I look around -- and the web is proving a perfect place to do that -- it appears to me that *nothing* is missing. Well, nothing except equal-opportunity recognition. So the issue isnt Whats missing, nor even Why is it missing? To me at least the question is: as an artist, how do you thats you personally, whoevers reading this -- *respond* to that reality? Do you fight the system? Change your work to fit the mold? Expand that little piece of your work that already fits the model until its *all* youre doing? Stop trying to break into the fine art market with your work at all? Or what?
Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Mon 31 Jul 06 01:25
Ted, you are very kind to plug my website. Remind me to pay you the $20 I owe you for that. ;) Seriously, to go back to your questions: <Do you fight the system?> If you chose to fight, who/what would you fight? <Stop trying to break into the fine art market with your work at all?> Or perhaps wait until the market has caught up with what on is doing. <Change your work to fit the mold? Expand that little piece of your work that already fits the model until its *all* youre doing?> Does this imply that all work that gets into galleries fits the mold? ~~~~ I'm wondering if the situation needs to be as adversarial as it often seems. Is there a way to exploit the tension between one's muse and the market? Is there a way to sustain one's work, and serve the culture outside of the marketplace?
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