It’s inevitable.  You’re teaching an introductory course in (pick one) art history, poetry, music, film, or literature and a student will ask, “Aren’t you reading too much into all this?  Do you really think artists are that deliberate?”  It’s a sort of skepticism left over from society’s head-on collision with modern art, and folks’ lingering suspicion that  they’re being conned.  (I had a teacher once who referred to it as the “My-Dog-Could-Do-Better School of Art History.”)  You try to tell the student, “Yeah.  It’s all there.  They really do think about this stuff.”  But it was Tyra Banks and host of middle-school girls who gave me the metaphor I needed.

Take a look a celebrity walking the red carpet on Oscar Night.  How many choices do you think she made when getting ready?

Was it just the dress?  (You mean this old thing?!)

Did she just put on whatever underwear happened to be clean?  (Or did she consider the possibility of wardrobe malfunctions and plan accordingly?)

Did she open her jewelry box and pull out…whatever? (Necklace? Bracelet? Earrings?)

What about the shoes?  (Could there be more to it than “black or brown?” )

Any thought given to makeup?

And why would anyone care about all that?

As with fashion, you want your art to look “put together,” and that means thinking about it, and making choices.  And once you make those choices, someone’s going to judge them, and interpret them, and maybe be inspired by them.

3 thoughts on “Choices

  1. Excellent analogy. I recall a story in which President Woodrow Wilson was asked how long it would take to prepare for a 5 minute speech, and he replied something about how many hours and even days he would need. The question poser was aghast and asked, “Then how long do you need to get ready to speak for a half hour?” and Wilson replied, “I’m ready to start right now!”

  2. Interesting what an impression teenagers can have on us mature people. We never cease to learn if we are willing.

  3. Pingback: Gardner Writes » Blog Archive » Understanding the Tools

Comments are closed.