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What good is Art School?

Although theorists and even some art school professors often like to say that art can't be taught, recent research suggests (see article below) that, in fact, art school graduates emerge from their education relatively well equipped for successful careers.

Based upon the attached readings and first-hand observations at CalArts (one of the top art schools in the US), what do you think are the most important â??lessonsâ? art schools teach? Explain what those lessons are and why you think they are important.


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Having read the attached required readings, I am uncomfortably reminded of some of my own art school experiences, where my major professor disliked what I did in ceramics because I wanted to be a functional potter. He had no respect for that - what attracted his fulsome praise was concoctions of dismembered department store manikins, anointed with red paint, holding photographs of the naked art student/designer, who was taking pictures of himself in a mirror taking pictures of himself, testicles dangling.

Now that I have that visual image out of my system (!), to address your posting: Based upon the attached readings and first-hand observations at Cal Arts (one of the top art schools in the US), what do you think are the most important lessons art schools teach?

Art school is the same as any other sort of college. The experience is not so much the lessons you receive in the classroom, although those do contribute to the overall knowledge that a student acquires, but instead in the mind-expanding experience of seeing that the rest of the world does not do things the way that you always have done. Travel, especially international travel, has that same sort of mind-stretching ability. The lessons at art school are designed to give students practical knowledge with techniques, materials and supplies, art history, careers and lots of practice discovering, using and mastering technique. However, the primary lessons that are absorbed there, hopefully, are the experiences of being with others whose passions are similar to your own, and the experiences of seeing how and what they do in order to expand how and what you yourself do. That is the far more important goal of the whole process.

Everyone needs a solid foundation of the basics of Art: the Elements and Principles, how to use them, knowledge of how other artists historically used them. This is so that when rules are broken they are broken deliberately, consciously and with forethought. Kind of like murder: art should be deliberate and well thought out. Passion is certainly an element, but it is the thought that is the key. Elephants and monkeys are given paint and brushes in zoos, and what they produce is framed and sold to the zoo visitors to help pay for their feed and upkeep, but it is not art. People who create things without the requisite thought are not doing a whole lot better, and it is this tragedy that art schools are working to avoid.

Can art be taught? Craftsmanship can be taught. Self-discipline can be taught, but it is not always the student's choice to learn it. Technique can be taught. Appreciation for art can be taught. Criticism, critical evaluation of artworks and taste can be taught. Skills required for many of the supplemental careers necessary to support the world of art creation can be taught. The passion for and the ...

Solution Summary

discussion and justification of Art Schools, what they do and provide for the student, and of what value their lessons are.