Friday, August 20, 2010

Put your art where your mouth is!

When I taught art, my goal was to give my students a sense about what art is and what it is not. My high school students received a college level education in art history if they had me for four years. During that time I exposed them to as much famous art as I could.

In college I found most of my art history classes dry and boring. (Maybe the fact that I'm not a morning person and my first art history class took place at 8:00 AM had something to do with that. As soon as the lights went out.... so did I. I didn't physically leave; just fell asleep.) There were a couple of classes that were good. My 20th C. class was pretty interesting as was another class with George Pitluga (I think that was his first name.) He opened "a new can of worms" as he used to say.

Maybe it's a sign of our society, but I didn't want to just bore my students with analyzing works of art. Basically my style was like today's tabloids, full of little interesting tidbits about the who, what, where, when and why of art. I loved learning those things and from what I hear, most of my students did too. (Hey, you can't reach everybody.)

The week I read an art history book like it was a novel scared me. (It was informative "and" interesting.) That book was called "The Shock of the New" by Robert Hughes. I just couldn't put it down.

Another great book that became our classroom textbook was "Living with Art" by Rita Gilbert. Here was a book that took a totally different approach to teaching art history. (In total contrast to one of the leading art history books by Janson. See, I can't even remember the name of the book. It was so biased and male dominated.)

Now, the point I'm getting to in this blog is about a new book I just bought, "The Daily Book of Art", 365 readings that teach, inspire & entertain. It's not the best little art history book but I found it interesting and possibly inspiring. Inspiration is what I'm looking for. And, since I loved teaching art history, what better place to find inspiration to refresh my love (and my memory) of art history.

I can talk a good line about what art is. I think it's time my work starts to reflect that. Hopefully, a daily dose of art history will do that. (And, forcing myself to design on a daily basis after reading each entry.) Another challenge for me is to limit myself to one page a day. (That's actually hard to do.)

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