Last week I was back in art school...some things were familiar--smudgy charcoal drawings on easles, racks of paintings, color-spattered sinks, lithography stones. But this time around there was a whole new aspect and it was very high tech--like a machine that produces resin models from 3-D computer designs, a huge array of film and photography equipment, vast online resources for all kinds of design and research. My younger son and I were doing college visits in Duluth and Minneapolis, and I was struck over and over by how things have changed in the 20 years since I was an art student.
It's not just equipment and facilites, but also an approach to art as a career that I don't recall from my own education. In those days, we assumed that art education would eventually lead a person into the field, but it hardly seemed a clear path. It was more about the journey of becoming a deeper, more insightful person, with certain skills and lots of knowledge about art history. And yes, OK, it took about ten years to start seeing income.
My son and I heard a lot about mentoring, internships, networking, and professional preparation classes. And I am absolutely all for it. There is nothing noble or desirable about going into today's art world ignorant of basic business and people skills. There is nothing valuable in having to reinvent the wheel as you learn to conduct the life of a profesional artist. Streamlining the whole process may very well allow for more focus in the studio. As long as the part about the journey to becoming a deeper, more insightful person, etc. etc. is not neglected, it seems the new generation of artists is being offered a few things that the class of '82 could have really used, all high tech wonders aside.