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talent and k-12 art

updated tue 30 apr 96


Vince Pitelka on fri 12 apr 96

I appreciate Kevin's post concerning that fickle concept known as talent. What
is it that we call talent in grade-school art? Usually it is the ability to
draw something exactly as it is in reality. What a sad misunderstanding of the
concept of creativity. It takes no creativity to copy reality, and yet by
rewarding only those who CAN copy reality, as so many well-meaning people do,
by default we tell those who can't copy reality that they have no talent. In
my experience artistic creativity has to do with the interpretation of reality
and the willingness to take risks in individual expression. Given those
conditions, GOOD art most often comes of fluency in media and markmaking.

A Suzuki violin teacher once asked me to review a set of art-instruction videos
she had come across from some private teacher (I think he was in Grand Rapids,
Michigan). This teacher had young children drawing the same thing over and
over and over and over again until the product was visually accurate. Suzuki
seems to work very well, and the Suzuki teacher saw similarities in this art
instruction concept. I was absolutely horrified, and explained to her that
while this approach may work in music, in visual art it would completely
smother creativity and individuality.

The history of art reveals a great many lesser-known artists who were extremely
"talented" at copying reality, and yet never contributed a damn thing new to
the grand scope of human accomplishment.

So, what does this have to do with ceramics anyway? Sometimes I get carried
- Vince
Vince Pitelka -