Friday, March 21, 2008

Cream City Conundrums

Hey, everyone!

Before I head off for a short vacation, I wanted to share a bit about a recent experience in an art class I'm teaching.

I don't know about you, but my grade school art classes were (for the most part) pretty well stocked with students interested in learning about... art. When I was younger I was completely unaware of the apparent fact there are lots of kids taking art classes out of duty rather than choice. I didn't take art for one half of the year and gym the second half. Gym was linked with home economics or something... art was another animal, altogether.

What happened? When did learning how to express yourself on a more personal level become an easy way to bring up your grade point average? Has this always been the case? Was I blinded to this due to my interest in art studies?

I'm worried about a society with no appreciation for self-expression. This becomes especially worrying when adverts are constantly bombarding us with the message of buying the next biggest, fastest, shiniest, multi-playingest toy in the bin... all in the name of 'fitting in'.

Hey, I'm an American... born and bred. I understand the consumer mindset. I'm not some guy living in a shed on some mountain in the North Pacific of the continent. But does all this hoarding of new societal gadgets need to equal forsaking the tools necessary for building society in the first place?

I've been to the mountaintop... and I see children, at the prime of the self-expression age, completely unable to pull an idea out of their heads without being connected to some sort of a machine.

"Can I look something up on the internet... real quick?"

"Do you have a drawing I can look at?"

"Comic books are stupid!"

"I'm sick of drawing!"

These are just some of the things I've heard come from the mouths of grade school art students. What's going on? Does this alarm you? It should. Written language would not have been possible had art not come first. But we don't need to go that deep. How many times have you heard a child voice an idea abut how they could improve a video game or an animated film? Yet, these children shut down when there is a blank page staring them in the face rather than a blinking screen.

Think about it. Get angry. Calm down. Come up with ways to strike back. And exercise those ideas.

We don't need to worry about whether or not web comics, manga, super heroes and/or illustrated diaries will take over the market... 'cos the kids aren't reading, writing or drawing anymore.

Oh! Pick up the latest issue of AdBusters.