When I was getting ready to graduate, one of the requirements was to write an exit essay. This goes in your file for whoever (potential schools, employers?) looks at your school records. It was supposed to show something of what you’d learned, where you were headed. As I was being scrutinized as to whether or not I was going to be signed off on by my committee and what, if anything, I was going to be contributing to society as an artist going forward should they let me, this was also written to answer (hopefully) that question, at least somewhat.
Here it is:
Over the course of pursuing my Art Degree, I’ve found myself inspired and reinspired with each successive art history and studio art class that I have taken.
As early man discovered new techniques and technologies, he broadened the definition of art from a minimal and conceptual idea implied on a cave wall to the full-bodied technical skill of the great masters. Since my childhood I have enjoyed a close relationship with the quintessential Renaissance Man: Leonardo Da Vinci. His inventions and interest in many areas of creative innovation have always resonated with me.
The width and breadth of technical mastery of representation was well and truly explored and eventually gave way to new ways of making art. From the Impressionists onward, the artists of the day have slowly and steadily pared the fruit of what constitutes art down until we came once again to the minimal and conceptual core of artmaking. As we have learned from Marcel Duchamp and his brethren, the idea, the concept, the decision of the artist is what makes art art.
When art is stripped down to nothing, surely it must wither and die. We found ourselves at the end of art. Or so it seemed. As Ad Reinhardt said, “Art about Art is Art. The End of Art is not the End.” It may have been the end of an era, but that only left room for the beginning of a new era.
As we add new techniques and technologies to the concepts of art and our knowledge of art history, once again art has opened wide to new horizons. It is in this open field of options that I find myself traversing this art degree and art life.
I take great inspiration from the broadening of the definition of what art is, and can be, from the revolutionary works of Robert Rauschenberg, especially his combines. For me, this expansion of painting off of the two-dimensional plane out into the third dimension is where I want to take my art. Another artist I take inspiration from is Jackson Pollack. Action painting is, for me, a way to allow the paint freedom and to loose my firm control over it.
More recently I’ve had the privilege to study the works of Lyrical Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler. I am enthralled by her delicate treatment of the paint and I definitely am planning to explore and incorporate her pouring, staining, and soft color and shapes into my work moving forward. Another artist whose work I’ve learned of recently who I admire is Eva Hesse. What I appreciate most about her work is how she blurs the line between art and craft. This blurring of the lines of categorizing is the cornerstone of my artistic sensibility. I intend to explore this avenue in my future works as much as possible.
Looking ahead to after graduation, I hope to be able to act as a conduit for creativity. I believe that creativity is a muscle that becomes stronger with use and training. I plan to pursue certification in Creativity Coaching, a new career which helps empower creative people with the tools to move through blocks, such as the infamous writer’s block.
Moving from art school out into society it is my goal to spread creativity and to help increase awareness of the benefits of, and need for, art and art education. Our society is in desperate need of creative problem solvers. This is the very definition of an artist. We need new and innovative solutions to the problems that we’ve built for ourselves. This is one of the functions of the artist in society’s arsenal.