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Pondering Art Making

Creating Art for the Sake of Creating

Tree by C.Alphenia

In my Master's program we often discuss the importance of the process of making art. The conversation always seems to veer to the point that children in schools are often directed to churning out product after product. They don't really get the opportunity to simply experience the materials they are working with.

When I was teaching I made it a point to allow my students to play with a material before we began any actual project with it; especially when I was introducing something new. At first my students seemed confused when I would tell them, "You can make anything you want" or "Just play with it and see what it does." However, as the school year progressed they became used to my style. Those days were my personal favorite because I was able to watch discovery happen in the moment.

The problem, one of the many, with most art education programs stems from the effects of industrial revolution, I am quite sure. I won't go into that history now but it is clear that our school systems are simply training grounds for producing the next cog in the wheel. Most art teachers have project after project outlined in their curriculums. The students just are making things. They are not given the opportunity to truly experience the process of art making. It is not completely the art teacher's fault. They are simply responding to the schools and districts they work in. They are attempting to meet the arbitrary art standards that this education system has established. However, this is a ridiculous set up for "teaching" art.

As I am making an art piece I give myself the chance to just play with the materials I am using. I am not the type of artist that sketches a sculpture before I start making it. Most times I don't even have a mental image of what I am attempting to create. I simply just dig in. In that space I am truly present. There is a calmness that comes over me. I lose track of time usually; not realizing I should probably take a break until my tummy starts grumbling and it dawns on me that I haven't eaten in hours. I'm sure many creatives do the same thing. We just get in the zone.

What I am saying is that when I am in this realm of being completely present I am at a level of peace that I cannot attain in many other aspects of my existence.

Shouldn't we all have that opportunity?