Monday, December 10, 2012

"What do I get if I win?"

iTOMB. Tala (Syria) 11.24.12  (not the girl described below)

"What do I get if I win?", the little girl asked as she sat down, eagerly, to paint her little square. "Well, nothing", I said laughing, "It's not a competition." - as her father looked reassuringly at me, smiling warmly as well at my answer. 

Yet so goes the state of education in America and dare I say, much of the rest of the world that I have seen - including, of course, Asia. Kids, especially the more well to do ones, are raised as sort of show ponies so that the elements of whatever might be taught to them are much less important than what might be gained by getting the correct answers on a series of tests that will eventually get them into the right university where they will then study the right subjects and get the right answers to the right questions to get the right job - or husband or wife:( - making students so deathly afraid to fail at even the smallest task.

And that's what I love about art. There are no "right" answers. And for that matter, there are no wrong ones either. At iTOMB the first priority had better be "fun" and after that, I'm perfectly pleased to let the cards fall where they may as far as whether people think works are good or bad or inconsequential.

At iTOMB I'm fairly famous for saying two things as people approach and decide to paint or not. #1) "There's no skill assessment here" and #2) "I give absolutely NO instruction". And with those two sentiments, I believe we begin to discover what makes all the work as endearing as it is. 

In this environment, I try as best I can, to offer total freedom as it seems to be what many if not all the painters seem to crave - if even for the short time it takes to fill a 3" X 3" cardboard square. Maybe I should have said that everybody wins - because they get to do whatever they want for once in their life. A lesson that just might make them want a little more of that.

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