A study of the way that art is critiqued and graded within establishments.
"Art is not to be taught in Academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets." - Oscar Wilde
Art is subjective. Everyone appreciates different aspects of art. What to one man may be a splodgey mess, to another would be a masterpiece. Such is the nature of it. And yet art is becoming more institutionalised, grades are being placed on works of art, and students being told that their work simply isn't good enough.
Through my own personal experience, and through talking to many of my artistic friends, it has become apparent to me that to be successful at art in schools, and to some extent further education, you have to do as the teacher says. How much your own views line-up with the teachers will affect your grade, because if you can produce something they like, then they will look upon it more favourably than if they don't. But is this fair? Surely art, and producing art should be about pleasing yourself, and expressing your own perspective of the world?
Don't get me wrong, art as a subject has taught me many things; how to critically apprise other works of art, how to show development and to carry out and then implement research, for example. But surely this is what we should be marked on; how successfully we learn these skills, how our work improves over time, and how much effort we put in.
At the end of the day though, and regardless of what they may lead you to believe, you will only be successful if A: your work is too good to criticise, or B: you do something that they like. Lets face it A, is near impossible when you are young and just learning about art, and even if you do have a natural talent for it, you need to hone that skill. And by doing B you could compromise your artistic integrity.
I am sick to the back teeth of hearing art teachers telling students that their work isn't good enough. Their approach towards art is that if it doesn't fulfil their expectations, then it is automatically substandard. The teacher will gently (or not so depending on their style) guide the student to do something that will give them satisfaction, not caring about if it is what the student wants to do. I understand that these teachers want their students to do well, to create something that great, but who are they to say it is great? Teachers are only humans, some of them from completely irrelevant backgrounds, and they are telling us what we should or shouldn't be creating based upon their own preferences. There is something fundamentally wrong with this.
My belief is that, if you can justify your art, if you can show where it came from, and how you have improved it; then there should be no one to tell you that it isn't art. The grading system within art subjects is completely flawed, if you fulfil the requirements of the brief given to you, then you should be credited accordingly. You should not be told to do it again because it is not good enough, but encouraged to experiment further, to try new mediums or techniques. Creativity is such a precious thing, and the way we are currently treating art is causing it to be squashed.
"Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud. Any of us will put out more and better ideas if our efforts are appreciated." - Alexander Osborn
Photography by Cat Morley.