Friday, July 1, 2011

Fear And Loathing In Art Class

This may come as a surprise considering what I am doing with my life these days but I hated art class at school. So much so that at age 14, when you get to choose your subjects, art was immediately crossed off the list. I spent my time doing woodwork, metalwork, mechanical workshops and various other classes instead.

Art at school, for me, completely missed the point. It should be about creativity, exploration and self expression. Instead it was do this and do it this way, exactly the same as everyone else is doing it. Days of boring history lectures about the lives of dead artists. Craft projects I had no interest in whatsoever. I just wanted to draw what I wanted to draw. Not carve a given pattern into a piece of lino or make a pot out of clay. The end result was a loathing for art teachers.

I bring this up because of a recent incident. My 12 year old nephew was talking about art at school the other day. They had been learning about Van Gogh. (Yep I remember nearly falling asleep during that) Nephew wasn’t too interested in him either. However the teacher had asked the students if there was an artist that they would like to talk about, so he came to me. After some discussion and looking at pictures online, Salvidor Dali’s surreal artworks got the nod.

In my mind this was a good choice. At worst the kids would have some thought provoking images to look at. Yet it should be so much more than that. There is so many things a teacher could do with that material, from discussions of meaning, creative writing, what do you find surreal, paint a surreal picture - the list goes on.

I was not expecting what actually happened though. When nephew brought up Dali, the art teacher had never heard of him. This is a person that went through 12 years of school, then another 4 of university, specialising in art. I was flabbergasted. In fact it was such a surreal experience that I thought it was a joke at first. Sadly it wasn't.

My loathing of art teachers has hit an all time high.
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