inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #26 of 145: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #27 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Fri 28 Jul 06 12:18
    
Another apologia (sigh) --- I see that Gail’s 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 that’s come in so far from
readers of “The View”. So far I’ve received maybe a dozen in-depth
emails or letters, as well as being directed to numerous blog entries.
It’s all proven been extremely helpful – enough so that I’m 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 don’t 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?"

I’m 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…   
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #28 of 145: 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? 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #29 of 145: 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 ?
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #30 of 145: 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
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #31 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #32 of 145: 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?

There’s 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 *doesn’t* get made, and
the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up
along the way. It doesn’t 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 don’t. It’s just that
I’m not quite ready to leave that outcome entirely in the hands of the
fates....
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #33 of 145: 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 wouldn’t know where to begin -- and I’m not sure I’d 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 they’d 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 they’re on the right track. Likewise, some students
blossom in a free-form learning environment, while others feel like
they’re drifting around aimlessly. There’s 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #34 of 145: Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Sat 29 Jul 06 04:15
    
>Likewise, some students blossom in a free-form learning environment,
while others feel like they’re drifting around aimlessly. There’s 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #35 of 145: 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?

  
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #36 of 145: 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, it’s a matter of being aware of your own limitations --
or at the least understanding that you HAVE limitations even if you’re
not aware of them. (Almost by definition, it’s hard to see beyond your
own conceptual universe…)

So taking that example from the digital photography courses, for
instance, I’m genuinely happy that there’s someone out there teaching
the same material in an entirely different manner. Personally, I’d 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 didn’t need toward some pre-ordained result I didn’t want.
(Can you sense my bias here…?)  

The point is, I don’t learn that way, I’d hate to have to teach that
way – and as a result wouldn’t 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 they’re 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
system’s 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #37 of 145: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #38 of 145: 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
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #39 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #40 of 145: 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.' 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #41 of 145: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #42 of 145: 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 I’ve heard from on the issue have been
individuals who (for the most part) don’t 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 they’re 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 it’s represented in academia and museums and
art history texts, there’s 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 it’s taken. No wonder the quilters feel
disenfranchised as artists: they’re 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, I’m realizing that
I’m 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. I‘ll try harder
to keep up with things…
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #43 of 145: Ted Orland (tedorland) Sun 30 Jul 06 16:59
    
I’ve 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 hasn’t 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #44 of 145: Kindness does not require an infrastructure (chrys) Sun 30 Jul 06 18:57
    
<I‘ll 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.)  


 
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #45 of 145: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #46 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #47 of 145: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #48 of 145: 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?

 



  
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #49 of 145: 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 artist’s work does not achieve some critical mass of exhibition,
publication, critical review, artificial rarity, auction track record,
collectibility and gallery representation, it’s simply ignored. It may
exist, but like the tree falling in the deserted forest, who knows
about it, and hence, who cares? 

That’s a fairly harsh assessment, but that it is, in some measure, the
view from the artist’s 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  --
you’ll 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 isn’t “What’s
missing”, nor even “Why is it missing?”  To me at least the question
is: “as an artist, how do you – that’s you personally, whoever’s
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 it’s *all* you’re doing? Stop trying
to break into the “fine art” market with your work at all? Or what?
  
inkwell.vue.278 : Ted Orland - "The View From The Studio Door"
permalink #50 of 145: 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 it’s *all* you’re 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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