We're not only out of money, some of us are missing out on much of our culture.
This is a major national problem and, I think, a crime against humanity.
Remember when your parents asked you "How many times do I have to tell you to...". That's the hardest part of parenting and teaching: repetition. But it has to be done. So here I am again...I know I have touched on this, but when I have conversations with people they still don't seem to get it. Math and Science, YES! But not in exchange for the demise of art and culture!
Consider the many young students who are artists in their souls but won't get nurtured because they are not exposed to art.
Some won't find their calling until later than necessary. These cultural crimes are devastating for aspiring and established artists but also extend to the people who are not artists.
Many Americans are missing out on a vital experience without an exposure to visual art, performance, music and dance in their lives.
Yes, we see popular visual images, popular music and movies, but that is a narrow menu, even though we love Will Smith and the other popular celebrities!.
Will Smith (photo from the web)
If you want to understand a culture it is also important to understand the art that is produced. And to develop more artists we need to expose everyone to the arts.
We know about past civilizations, in part, because we have examined the art work left behind as tangible evidence of religious, political, and civic practices and rituals including marriage, birth, and fertility that are often expressed through a visual form. Just think of Stonehenge, The Acropolis, The Coliseum, and The Great Pyramids at Giza. Learning about these edifices sheds a deeper meaning to the beliefs and practices of the time. Of course the writing left behind is an essential key to history and culture when it available.
My sons had a cultural exposure that most kids do not get because of my interests in art and my husband's in writing, theater and music. All children should see plays, go to the museums, hear American classical music such as jazz, blues and gospel, as well as European classical music, and participate by playing instruments or singing in these art forms.
Ideally schools will teach music, art, writing and theater (performance), and survey classes that would be required for every public school student.
Wikipedia gives a list of areas of American culture as they start their definition of it: — music, cinema, dance, architecture, literature, poetry, cuisine and the visual arts — Well, visual arts is listed last. No, the list is not alphabetical; it comes after cuisine! At least it's listed.
The visual arts often come up even shorter or last (than the other arts) when we talk about contemporary culture.
The most easily accessible connection to current culture is television and computers. Where are the TV shows about visual art; how about an American Idol-type Visual Artist show?? The scouts could find the next art star who is not an elephant, a "savant" or a child.
You know things are bad when we can rarely find shows about art on public TV! Oh sure you can still find shows with the guy who completes a painting during a one-hour show and a great show called Art21 that features internationally known artists and more than on commercial TV, no doubt. Locally, ArtBeat features the arts in some segments during that daily "Chicago Tonight". There are wonderful travel shows that include the art of the region and do a nice job of explaining ancient treasures.
I have never seen a TV award shows featuring visual artists, have you? We get the Grammys, and The Country Music Awards. We have been hearing about the The Golden Globes, and the Oscars as the producers gear up the the awards season. The various Emmy awards programs honor day and primetime TV.
What about fine arts? Do we get dissed because we don't have unions?
Art publications, the few we have, are mostly national and only fleetingly acknowledge local artists...thank goodness Olga Stephen and the CAC got "Prompt" published. Otherwise there is not much. Art critics are a disappearing breed, but sports writers abound!
Even the print version of The Chicago Reader, a free paper that we could count on for art has an "Arts and Entertainment" section that excludes visual art. Those listings are found in "Galleries and Museums".
Oh, yeah, everybody knows P-Diddy. Everybody knows Paris. And that's great, and a part of our contemporary culture. I am surprised by how many people have NOT heard of Kerry James Marshall, Preston Jackson, Faith Ringgold, and others.
If we want people to develop a need for art, a need to visit art institutions, to care about what artists think, the way folks care about Will Smith, Angelina Joli and Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Oprah (who I wish would switch from promoting only authors to including us righteous artists), we have to find a way for people to know about art and realize we are pretty interesting, too. Even more than that, we are reflections of them! They can know themselves better by knowing us!
AND, that's why we need schools to teach art to all students from preschool through 12th grade! If you talk to President-elect Obama's new education guy, Arnie Duncan, please let him know that we are ready and willing to teach! Let's resolve to honor our culture, better educate our students and build artists bank accounts.
Money image, above, from here.www.acf-fr.org
Photo: Chicago State University student at work/my painting studio at CSU getting nurtured...