Recently, someone said to me " I am so glad I didn't go to art school!" and that statement asked me to think about the value and the limits of my experience attending art school.
The statement was a reaction to a comment and defense I was making about why, almost 20 years prior, I had expressed criticism and suggestion on that artist's drawing. I am a sometimes abrasive and arrogant critic. And for that I ask forgiveness.
So, art school!
It was a magical 3 years of my life. I felt so gifted to be able to make art full time surrounded by other creatives from all over the world. I was an older student. I attended art school full time at age 27. I had finally saved enough money to attend the first year in one of my dream schools. (I had been accepted to a highly accredited art school when I graduated high school and was unable to attend for lack of funds. My family was poor.) So this was a dream come true for me! A dream I held since I could remember! I had always wanted to be a professional artist even though my mother had discouraged me from pursuing a career she viewed would only bring me poverty and misery. She wanted a better material life for me.
Those three years at art school, I met amazing and inspiring contemporary successful artists who to this day continue to inspire me. I was exposed to so many possibilities it was sometimes overwhelming and distracting. I gained practical skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, writing and speaking.
The most rewarding skill I gained from art school was freedom to be an artist and look deep within my soul and express that without judgement. Yes, there were critiques. The critiques were more about assessing how well I expressed in images what I had set out to express and the skill I had used to express that. It taught me that no matter how I chose to express myself to reach for the best I can be at every turn of the road. The best of me. That lesson took longer than art school to really sink in. It is a lesson that I continually learn. It is what inspires me to move forward, accept change, see beyond my own limits......I draw on those possibilities to this day. Had I not gone to art school, I may not have found the permission I needed. I may not be exploring intuitive expression or refining skills as a painter. Who can say what would have happened. What I do know, even though I am not an academic and I have let my skills as a writer slide, my life is so much richer for having surrounded myself with hundreds of creatives in one place at one time. The energy that creates fills my soul continually. And with each passing year I am more grateful for that energetic memory because, as a soul that moves with the ups and quite a few downs emotionally, it is my life line to a passion I share with so many others in this universe. and we all need to feel connected.
As I remember destruction and birth on this day, I know there are probably downsides to having gone to art school. I choose to embrace and relish all the possibilities and gifts I received as I heal and move forward and develop ways to inspire and share. So thank you to the person who responded with passion " I am glad I didn't go to art school!" You have helped me remember the value I gained from that experience and to appreciate not everyone needs to go to art school to gain that value.