Everyone in the modern world should have at least a basic understanding of art.
I say this because of the countless times I’ve heard “I don’t understand art” either in private conversation or in popular media, and the phrase is left at just that. There’s no desire to try understand it, because the value of it has never been taught, either.
And I don’t mean like in elementary school when a guest “art teacher” comes in and shows you paintings by Picasso and tells you how famous he and his work are, how strange the art is, introduces you to the term “starving artist”, explains that what he did was called “Cubism” and that it basically meant rearranging people’s faces, and all the while with the expressed attitude that “people like you and I” aren’t really meant to grasp these things.
I have one specific memory from 3rd grade when our class was making poster boards about the rain forest. I was crafting a paper dragonfly, and my teacher came over and told me “You shouldn’t use that blue and purple tissue paper for the wings because that’s not realistic. You should use the cellophane.” (This woman also HATED lollipop trees.) In my bewildered 8-year-old mind, all I could think was something like — though less articulate than — “Are you kidding me? You actually think that clear cellophane is going to make this construction-paper dragonfly look realistic and that this is going to look good on a giant green board? Versus something opaque and colorful that would give the impression of the colors reflected off of the dragonfly’s wings while still managing to stand out and be interesting?” Sometimes showing what appears true without actually including everything that is literally seen is much closer to the actual truth and easier for the eye and mind to register than when we try to be too “realistic”.  As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” But school is often like work-force training: resistance is futile, so you just nod, smile, and use the cellophane.
So what I do mean by art education is: the ability to recognize new patterns as well as to re-organize known ones. Comprehension of symbolism. The ability to see past the surface of a thing and recognize its underlying system, to re-organize that, think about other ways it could be put together — find new uses for things. Understanding arbitrariness. Understanding that experiencing an art work can be much like a scientific test: an isolated and sometimes psychological experiment that can only happen under specific circumstances, though less focused on the scientific method and results. The ability to deal with and comprehend foreign experiences or ideas; to entertain an alien thought. To be able to consider an idea or even reality itself from various perspectives… All creative and critical thinking. Survival skills, especially for living on an increasingly more connected earth where encountering newness is more of a daily reality for an average person than ever before. 
But, art education is extremely dangerous if you want to have a culture wherein everyone follows the rules.
Dragonfly extremely related. By { myu-myu }.

Everyone in the modern world should have at least a basic understanding of art.

I say this because of the countless times I’ve heard “I don’t understand art” either in private conversation or in popular media, and the phrase is left at just that. There’s no desire to try understand it, because the value of it has never been taught, either.

And I don’t mean like in elementary school when a guest “art teacher” comes in and shows you paintings by Picasso and tells you how famous he and his work are, how strange the art is, introduces you to the term “starving artist”, explains that what he did was called “Cubism” and that it basically meant rearranging people’s faces, and all the while with the expressed attitude that “people like you and I” aren’t really meant to grasp these things.

I have one specific memory from 3rd grade when our class was making poster boards about the rain forest. I was crafting a paper dragonfly, and my teacher came over and told me “You shouldn’t use that blue and purple tissue paper for the wings because that’s not realistic. You should use the cellophane.” (This woman also HATED lollipop trees.) In my bewildered 8-year-old mind, all I could think was something like — though less articulate than — “Are you kidding me? You actually think that clear cellophane is going to make this construction-paper dragonfly look realistic and that this is going to look good on a giant green board? Versus something opaque and colorful that would give the impression of the colors reflected off of the dragonfly’s wings while still managing to stand out and be interesting?” Sometimes showing what appears true without actually including everything that is literally seen is much closer to the actual truth and easier for the eye and mind to register than when we try to be too “realistic”.  As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” But school is often like work-force training: resistance is futile, so you just nod, smile, and use the cellophane.

So what I do mean by art education is: the ability to recognize new patterns as well as to re-organize known ones. Comprehension of symbolism. The ability to see past the surface of a thing and recognize its underlying system, to re-organize that, think about other ways it could be put together — find new uses for things. Understanding arbitrariness. Understanding that experiencing an art work can be much like a scientific test: an isolated and sometimes psychological experiment that can only happen under specific circumstances, though less focused on the scientific method and results. The ability to deal with and comprehend foreign experiences or ideas; to entertain an alien thought. To be able to consider an idea or even reality itself from various perspectives… All creative and critical thinking. Survival skills, especially for living on an increasingly more connected earth where encountering newness is more of a daily reality for an average person than ever before.

But, art education is extremely dangerous if you want to have a culture wherein everyone follows the rules.

Dragonfly extremely related. By { myu-myu }.

[in this exclusive to KurzweilAI] Lt Col Garretson — one of the USAF’s most farsighted and original thinkers — … pushes the boundary of long-term thinking about humanity’s survival out to the edge … and beyond.

Most people can scarcely even envision or carry out an annual goal, a scary percentage of the American population is still in denial of human evolution (a timeline of only several million years, depending where one begins) …

and this man has the audacity to think of a billion year plan?

Well, excellent. Someone should be.

But veering slightly away from the topic of the essay, two thoughts struck me:

  1. I once created a graphic design project involving Kardashev’s Civilization Types. Admittedly it wasn’t very good, but the memory is irritating because of what my professor [or Art Director, really] said about it at the time: “I don’t understand this, and I don’t think anyone in the future will, either.”

    If Big — complex, possibly not easily digestible — Ideas are constantly rejected in the commercial realm due to a general lack of knowledge about them, or because of their difficult nature, or because the head of the project himself is more interested in using some idea of “The Future” that humanity thought of in the 1970’s, then the options are few:

    Change [the nature of] Graphic Design — something I don’t care to do, because the field itself is just a container for a motive: to be able to communicate these Ideas to a lot of people in a comprehensible way. Whether or not that happens as/within Graphic Design is not my concern. Or, leave the major — which I did.

  2. How does a “Thinker” pay the bills?
Come to the SVA Visual & Critical Studies Thesis Show!:
Ground Control:a multimedia exhibition featuring sculpture, video, painting, collage and installation by selected fourth-year students in the BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department. Curated by Amy Wilson.January 8 - February 5, 2011Reception: January 11th, 6 - 8pmWestside Gallery133/141 West 21st StreetHours:Monday-Friday 9am to 7pmSaturday 10am - 6pm

Come to the SVA Visual & Critical Studies Thesis Show!:

Ground Control:
a multimedia exhibition featuring sculpture, video, painting, collage and installation by selected fourth-year students in the BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department.

Curated by Amy Wilson.

January 8 - February 5, 2011
Reception: January 11th, 6 - 8pm

Westside Gallery
133/141 West 21st Street
Hours:
Monday-Friday 9am to 7pm
Saturday 10am - 6pm