Excellence in Realism

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Excellence in Realism

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Interesting questions! I'll propose a few answers...

"Why aren't we producing as many 'big thinkers' like Jefferson, Madison, etc., when our population is at 280 million and not 4 million like the American colonies?" say the historians.

We probably do produce quite a few of them, but given the political realities of the day, they toil in obscurity and find other things to do because they can't be politicians. Our education system also is incredibly inept at presenting the kinds of good intellectual foundation that these men succeeded on the basis of. It's entirely possible (in fact, extremely likely) for a student to make it all the way through graduate school and never learn a thing about John Locke, but it's practically impossible to make it through without learning a fair bit about Marx. Go figure.

I don't think that it is enough for art schools to teach techniques, methods and skills alone. Promoting and encouraging creative use of those skills needs to be an integral part of the training so that you are, at some point, training in those genre(s) that you are likely to be engaged with in real life.

The problem is that you can't teach someone to be creative. (Not much anyway.) But you can teach people skills, so that is what a good teacher does. Too often teachers attempt to promote "creativity" by advocating anti-intellectualism and fuzzy-mindedness in place of competence and clarity of thought.

One theory that I've heard from a fellow painter is that the best visual people don't go into painting where they tend to drive old cars and don't get paid on time by galleries, but rather are attracted into film making, directing, animation, etc., where their genius, effort and ambition are more likely to be financially rewarded and appreciated. I don't know if that is true but it's worth contemplating.

What do you think?

I think there's something to that. There's also the fact that the way kids are introduced to the arts, the serious-minded ones tend to shun the whole enterprise as a waste of time and a nest of anti-intellectual posers. That's what happened to me earlier in life and I ended up being an engineer instead.

--Brian