Chance to Change College Art Teaching

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Chance to Change College Art Teaching

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Greg Scheckler wrote:
Personally I think the higher education art system as a large group is very much in need of some serious, constructive overhauls.

Virgil, you are right: the sarcasm and attacks are unconvincing. They're unconvincing when Brian, you, Fred or others here attack higher education, and they're unconvincing when higher education makes them against various kinds of good art.

My criticisms against universities might be harsh, but they aren't sarcasm.

So, anyway, I think that making the love and practice of realist painting an us very reasonable non-college folks vs. them crazy college-artists is a bad strategy.

In some of our earliest strategy discussions we decided that the academic art world (and museums, galleries, publications, and so on) was so corrupt that it wasn't worth trying to co-opt. Instead we decided that we would need to create a parallel set of institutions of a better kind... better publications, better schools, better galleries, and just out-compete the other guys on turf (like public opinion, sales, student demand, and so on) and down the road push them out of the positions of control they currently occupy. Nothing like that is going to happen overnight, and the take-over of the modernists didn't happen overnight either. I wish there were a quick and easy way to achieve change in this area, but I just don't see anything faster out there. Since our early discussions on this topic I have seen nothing to persuade me that our decisions were not correct.

I think groups like the ARC would do better to build coalitions rather than burn bridges.

Coalitions with what? On what basis? There are individual academics here and there who are exceptions of course, and of course I have no animosity toward such people but as departments and institutions, I have yet to see one that's worth giving the time of day to. "Coalitions" only make sense when you have some kind of foundation for agreement, and their fundamental principles are opposed to ours. Holding back on criticisms of things that deserve to be criticized for fear of hurting someone's feelings or seeming too harsh means keeping our point of view shut up while the other guys continue their massive state-funded institutional and media-driven propaganda campaigns against us. How is that good strategy?

Keeping quiet about such criticisms also leaves THEM in control of the decision of whether or not we are to be heard. How is that not a bad strategy? Resolving a disagreement by pretending that we don't really disagree might be a good way to keep your university job, but I don't have a university job to protect and if they don't like my ideas or that I am outspoken about them that's just too bad for them.

Be that as it may though, what exactly do you think that such a "coalition" with our enemies would buy us? Would they start liking us all of a sudden? Would they stop teaching nonsense to their students? Would they stop saying nice things about incompetent finger paintings? Would they start saying nice things about William Bouguereau in their classes? Not a snowball's chance in hell.

From a strategic point of view, one of the things we can do is isolate them in their little ivory tower worlds and get on with things elsewhere. Academia might seem like the whole world if you are inside it, but from the outside it's an inbred little group of people with little talent and no good ideas, and as such, our "bridge building" would help them a lot more than it would help us. I know that within the academic world actually caring about such things is outside the bounds of acceptable behavior, but we aren't IN academia, so those rules don't really apply to us do they? Sure, it will mean that they don't like us very much, but that's OK. We don't think much of them either.

I'll tell you what. I'll show them a little respect when they stop pretending that a pile of rubber hoses is a work of art and when they stop advocating explicitly irrational positions, Don't hold your breath.

When David Hockney published his theory we didn't "build bridges" to him to help him out, we proved that he was wrong. That's a far better strategy. We don't want to meld with these guys, we want to replace them.

--Brian