Lately I have ruminating on the notion of art school, in general, and specifically my experience with it. Often I talk to the people with whom I’m studying about the futility of what we are doing – most of us knowing that we probably won’t end up as “practicing artists” in the traditional openings-in-chelsea sense. Any self aware person would start to question the value in academicizing their art after a year of art school. I find myself (and others) wondering what is we are actually doing here having hour long critiques of a thirty second video when there is so much going on out in the real world that needs to be fixed and dealt with in an immediate fashion, and mostly the only answer is that we can’t imagine ourselves anywhere else. But as I navigate through my last year of school, I am trying to gather up what I have learned into something I can articulate and use. I think about the hundreds of thousands of people who have studied art and do not make their living as “artists”, and I can only imagine that they have gone on to be creative leaders in some other field or else the wack-job in the office who makes excellent doodles during monday meetings. And I hope I end up as the former, at least.

I guess undergraduate degrees are no longer meant to prepare you for a career in any given field of study anyway, as the number of people with graduate degrees has increased exponentially. I’m all for education for education’s sake. If I could, I would stay in school for the rest of my life. I love school. I would like to have at least a dozen degrees before I die. But reality sets in…

As bleak as all of that sounds, I really believe you learn a lot studying art. Not just as a maker, but as a thinker. Here is a short list of what I have learned:

  • How to communicate sensation in an intelligible way
  • How to give criticism in a constructive way
  • How to see past my guttural reaction to something and explore it more deeply
  • That everyone has something to offer to a conversation if you can just get them to speak
  • That the most rewarding way to learn how to do something is to try it with other people who don’t really know what they’re doing
  • To be open to the stimulus in my environment
  • To respect things that I do not like
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1 comment
  1. Carol & Jim Adams said:

    Joanna,

    Jim and I enjoyed reviewing your site and your pieces; keep up the good work!

    Love, Aunt Carol (New Mexico)

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