One of the assignments given this semester was to write an artist/educator manifesto. Below is Amanda Barbee’s eloquent statement:
Art is the connection to a world outside of testing in American schools, as well as an outlet for communication, expression, and a moment to one’s own thoughts. Art is a permission that students, and luckily some adults, allow themselves in our society, sometimes even if the act of making, viewing, pondering, and witnessing art does nothing for anyone or anything else at all times. Art is a luxury, a delicacy, and a frivolity from a dedicated and purposeful life.
This is what many seem to believe, but as Rachel Goslins (2015) states, art is not a flower. Unless it would be a dandelion. But a dandelion is a weed. A dandelion can nourish with its edible roots, heal the liver with derived tinctures, and provide rich vitamins and minerals when the leaves are consumed. Viewed to be such a useless plant, the dandelion also has the most dedicated and effective pollen, possibly causing its trajectory from valued herb to plant-pest.
Art Education is viewed as such in American society. A thing to be dealt with, half-heartedly advocated for, until dollars and time become real measurable factors and the value is literally lost in numbers. Art sustains societies’ histories and values in its roots, heals burdened hearts and minds with its derived and experienced creations, and provides sustenance to the unconnected content of the brain with the relativity of life in the mind. Viewed to be an “extra” subject, Art has the most dedicated and effective educators, possibly causing art to be viewed as “easy” to incorporate, “needless” to propagate, and “unreachable” to those lacking natural art-making-talent.
One need not forage, prepare, or seek to serve Art for its value to be made clear in a life. Art Education in America is occurring in unseen and possibly even unrecognized realms and on natural, organically connected levels. Art, its messages, its benefits, and its intersubjectivity, is making its way to the minds and passions of the young. Art has remained a valued companion to the old, and art is surrounding and enveloping those ensnared in a “dedicated and purposeful life” and art is becoming not only a part of the conversation, but a part of the language.
Art Education is to thank for this moment in American society, even if it is not happening at this exact juncture in our timeline. It has happened, will happen, and does happen to become dear and precious to the collective. When that thing: that feeling, that connection, that revolt, that silence, that calm, that love, that frantic, that pride, that understanding, needs to be said, but cannot, it is, was, and will be Art to bring the embodiment. Art will proliferate to become the landscape we meet on as people, and it will be resplendent.