Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making art and making the grade

I have done everything I could, always, to encourage Dean in the arts.  Oodles and oodles of supplies, and time to experiment, and conversations, and always saying what I truly believe -- that everyone is an artist.  Our output is the output that we, and we alone, are capable of producing.  We may judge our output harshly, against all those killer standards that beat us all down one way or another, but the reality is that we can all make art and that the art we make is uniquely our own.  Art is visual, auditory, aural and oral.

Dean was always a "process" guy growing up -- much, much more interested in getting his hands deep into the paint and rubbing over and over the surface telling a story as he went (a story that was obliterated in the end, but that gave him pleasure in the making), much more engaged with seeing how much color and texture he could put down but not interested in the end result.  He'd draw, a little, again to tell his own stories, but it wasn't his passion and I can't think of the last time he drew anything.  He still loves to dance, but on his own terms (although he is looking forward to a dance class later this year).  He does play piano, and is newly inspired to push himself to practice and experiment more.  But, at least at this point in his journey, he doesn't feel that he's a visual artist and doesn't have a great deal of interest.

His school, however, requires that all students work across all disciplines, and he must take music, visual arts, dance, theater (and all students focused on the arts must meet requirements across every other academic discipline).  He just finished up his Sculpture 1 class, and stands next to himself up there -- self portrait, full-sized bust in cardboard.

I see his work and I am thrilled.  I know how far out of his comfort zone he has been in this class, and I am awed by his work.  On the other hand, I understand that this is a real, academic course -- the school takes the arts seriously.  I get that.  I even understand how other students in the class produced *better* work.  But the bummer is that he got a grade he's not happy with in the class, which tragically has him re-convinced that he's NOT an artist and wanting to shimmy his way out of any other visual arts courses.  (He will have a photography class coming up, and he feels pretty positive about what he'll be able to accomplish).  I wish there were some middle ground; I wish there were some feedback the teacher could have given him that was more encouraging, even if that had to be the grade.  It's difficult to teach someone how to deeply engage with the art they are tasked with making (my mom was an art teacher so I had a front-row seat on this), how to show their thought process even if their execution is deemed somehow lacking. Back to that business about loving the process -- if he's engaged in the process and the thinking, should that "count?  I believe so.  You don't begin to make art unless you feel good about and are willing to undertake the process.

And the grade isn't the end of the world in my eyes, by the way -- but the issue is the way Dean interprets that....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And on

(Click on photo for full image.)

I stopped carrying my camera with me today, because it is heavy and I already had a lot to transport to and from work and and and.  And I missed the opportunity to take a photo of the incredible praying mantis that was hanging out on a bush just outside my office door. So THAT tells me something....

I have an idea about doing some little something of clean up in my studio every day for the next thirty days, but the count will not coincide with the calendar because I don't quite have it in me to jump in yet.  I type that and instantly feel lame; I do just need to do it. Kind of so much to juggle every day in life already -- we're in one of those "just need to make it through the next couple of weeks" mode with a zillion things going on for each of us and me feeling in the center needing to hold it all together for every one.

Right. And that's really what's at the heart, for me, about the challenge of choosing to do something every day that will feel positively productive. I will try. I will start now, and I will try. And meanwhile I will see about remembering to carry my camera with me.

September thirty

(Click on photo for full image.)

September twenty nine

(Click on photo for full image.)