I'm in New York right now so I don't have much time to post, so here's a quick list of the Top remarks I get regarding art from "Non-Art People" and my reactions to them in no particular order (whether I express these feelings to the people who say these things is another story).
1) "I don't get it." This is usually when we're at a show or an exhibit or in a museum looking at something relatively modern. I usually feel like this statement is a kind of invitation for me, with all my wisdom and learning, to explain the deep meaning behind whatever it is we're looking at. My response is, Like I do? Modern art has this great thing about it where you have to know more than just what it looks like to understand it. This means I don't "get" most modern art. I only "get" the things I've read about, or if what I'm looking at seems to relate to things I've learned. And, to be honest, there is a good chance that a lot of stuff doesn't have any real meaning behind it, which is why you'll only find it hanging in coffee shops or McDonald's. So don't ask me, I don't know! :)
2) "An art major, huh? What are you going to do with that?" I got this when I was in college, but now that I tell people I am applying for grad school, I am more likely to get the helpful "warnings" about lack of funding for art programs. My response, usually in my head, is, Not everyone can be a doctor. I mean, what's the difference between an Art degree and a History degree? Or any other degree that doesn't obviously lead to some kind of job (like Education, Journalism, Pre-med/law, etc). Why does education have to be a means to an end? And, PS, art students sometimes have an advantage that history students don't, in the sense that many of us are also trained to write and argue a point (through art history/art theory classes), but on top of that we are trained in design, so there are diverse options other than teaching if you want to stay "true" to your major. Nothing against history students, but I know a few and they're all struggling to find jobs that are related to their degree that aren't necessarily in schools.
3) "I'm just no good at art." Sometimes I will respond to this by laughing it off, but other times (especially when working with kids), I will respond, You may just surprise yourself. I taught a class where I took a bunch of random students who had to make a book from scratch in 6 weeks. They found texts, did artwork, bound the book themselves - you name it, they did it. They had no formal training and the books were amazing. A lot of people either haven't been trained how to draw or have no natural talent, but there are so many things you can do and still call it "art," without having to represent something as you see it.
4) "What's the big deal? I can make something just like this!" This is also usually in response to some modern art. My response is usually twofold, although not usually out loud, Maybe you could, but you didn't, and, One of the great things about modern art is that it isn't all about what's on the surface. It's great and it's frustrating. If you go to a show where you are given no explanation, I think it's a natural gut reaction to look at something kind of ugly or really simple and wonder how that person ended up with a show and you still haven't gotten anywhere. So the next time you stand next to a giant canvas that just happens to be all painted one shade of blue, wonder why it was made, not how. ;)
5) "That looks really cool." Assuming this is (hopefully) a response to something I've made, I say, Thank you!
So there you have it... a short post from me today, from New York. Coming soon, St. Patrick's Day in NYC experience, plus interview #3 which just happens to be at my NUMBER ONE TOP SCHOOL!