Monday, January 19, 2009

Students Guide to Building an Esthetic Foundation

The expansion of your conception on what contemporary art and craft are and are not will be the beginning of your foundation on esthetics and philosophies. In my classes I ask you to look beyond commercialism and find your own visual voice. With that in mind there are certain ideologies and objects that are not appropriate directions of study or research in my classes. Not to say there is no place in the world for these types of generic expression, there certainly is but not in a college level class. None of the following types of watered down, overtly commercial i.e. tourist trade, cookie cutter art or Kraft objects will be accepted. A short list of examples that fall into these categories are; ash-trays, pot pouri burners, teddy bears, hearts, big beer mugs that say bet ya can’t on them, bongs, pipes, piggy banks, religious or other club oriented iconography, light houses or sea gulls. This is only a short list and I do reserve the right to include other examples if they come up. Reasoning for certain esthetic rules lie in the fact that to learn about the art and craft of ceramics or any other media you must look beyond the blatantly obvious. My classes are not about creating a product they are about learning skills to create and learning to see. Searching for an individual voice through historical and contemporary reference points outside of commercialism will be your main objective in my beginning through advanced classes.

Whether you build on a visual voice that is directed towards a socio-political agenda or based on ideals of beauty, your visual voice begins with your investigation into the almost inexhaustible accomplishments of the past and what is being said on those lines in the present. Your individual voice builds as an amalgamation of the past and present and grows with your understanding of both. Your audible voice grew by learning to speak through your mom, dad and other voices, you then furthered your education by learning to read and finally thinking more for yourself. Remember a major aspect of learning is acquiring taste that you may presently want to spit out or won’t even try, everyone has hated some food as a child and now loves it because they have learned the subtleties, textures or nutrition of that taste. The same directions can be taken when learning a visual or musical language. Starting out somewhat sophomoric by first just making noise in music or marks in art you then start to build dexterity through practice and knowledge of the tools you will then be able to start thinking by learning to see beyond the obvious. Looking at art and listening to music becomes like reading, if you don’t open yourself up to what is out there you just become a mocking bird and never learn to sing. As an educator it is my goal to make you realize your voice, train it a little, practice a lot, and get you to sing solo. If you allow yourself to taste things that may be too sweet, too bitter, too ugly or incomprehensible to you now, you then open you mind to flavors that may make you mouth (or mind) water later. I intentionally rely on analogies to help you relate to this ideology as it relates to any field of study, creativity is important in science and art. It is a creative approach to growth and knowledge that makes a student successful and always above average.