Art As Social Action...
This wordy post feels like one of the least important, but necessary posts I have made thus far. I feel it is unimportant because I don't believe that I'm really attempting to respond to the book, and I am not taking the time needed to effectively communicate an worthy review of it. On the other hand, I believe it to be necessary in the sense that it is helping me to develop more of a practice of capturing my thoughts in general. Blogging feels somewhat unnatural to me, yet I am beginning to find a connection to my thinking process in it. I spend a staggering amount of daily time thinking about the purpose for my art, and the methods I want to use to express the ideas I want it to communicate. Unfortunately, I have not documented a lot of this thought. I have made scores of sketches, and had hundreds of conversations, and now I am starting to feel the desire to capture more of these thoughts and post conversation summaries. So without further ado,
I was more than ecstatic upon reading the Introductory Essays section. If all non-science and mathematics classes had taken the approach Chloe Bass talks about in her Where Who We Are Matters... essay, I believe there would generally be a significantly deeper and broader engagement by students. The idea of social engagement and any academic subject, I mean the idea of connecting the subject to its relevance in the lives of students is precisely what is missing from most classes. There is the academic concept of a subjects' relevance, and there is the discussion of relevant issues and then backtracking their connection to the academic subject. In my humble opinion, this is what is most effective about what Chloe Bass' example class.
The second and last essay in the section is Pedagogy as Art, by Mary Jane Jacob. In that essay, she refers to a lot of Joh Dewey perspective, mostly from one of his writings titled Education as Politics. In her discussion it is illuminated that public schools gradually placed less value in and less funding toward the arts as part of core curriculum. I lived through a period of public education in New York City, where I can say that was quite evident. In elementary school, I recall there being two art classes four or five periods per week. One would be visual, and the other would be musical. Then, by middle school, I remember having only the option for one or the other, and there being little to no support for it. If you could not afford an instrument then it was first come first serve, and there were only about 2 or 3 of each kind of instrument available in a school of perhaps a couple thousand students. So, by high school, I had lost interest in music...of course there is a lot to unpack in that conversation, however, the point is that I saw very very little emphasis and waning support from the school system during my years.
The next section of the book really stoked the fire in me. I am engaged in art for its value as my social action. While my aesthetic sensibilities are nearly as broad as a food critics palate, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to experience art of any medium, I find art that is social, psychological, and some times political in nature to be most stimulating. I believe that I am engaged more when the art begins to speak about our underlying philosophical perspectives. And, to a great degree, I am finding these next chapters speaking to that person in me.
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Rob J Phillips