Art & Fear

Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Let me begin by saying that I found this to be one of the most enjoyable and valuable passages I have ever read, through 5 years of art education, 3 universities, and countless professors. This should be required reading for any art student. I found it so refreshing to read an art text that didn’t aim to be overly pretentious for the sake of being regarded as legitimate by academia.

That being said, I have to disagree with one of the first points the authors made on page 5 concerning artistic process. They say that no one except the artist cares about the process of art making and that everyone is only interested in the final product. I take issue with this because when I view work that is not my own, being an artist and having appreciation for craft, time, and intricate skill, these elements when present help to enhance the value of the art. I am always interested in an artist’s process.

Aside from that one point, I agreed seamlessly with everything said in the text. I enjoyed on page 12 the “Operating Manual for Not Quitting”, with its two rules. The first being to make friends with other artists and share the art making process frequently with one another, and the second being to regard this as your art’s most important destination. I can attest to this, and appreciate this reminder, because my art never flourished as grandly as it did when I was at Tyler School of Art at Temple University, surrounded consistently by a close group of artist friends who supported each other. It becomes so much more difficult to create in solitude, and while my boyfriend, parents, and other friends, can attempt to understand, their removal from the art world places them into the category of “fear of others” discussed later in the text.

I really enjoyed the notes of humor and even sarcasm in this text, such as the slight dig at one of the most well known and revered philosophers of all time on page 27. When discussing the idea of the “creative genius” and art being a divine gift from God, the authors essentially call Plato a hack, a bold and endearing note of honesty in the face of judgment.

Though a bit dramatic as they themselves stated, (pg. 33) a ‘real’ artist can be identified by the feeling that a part of you dies if you stop producing art, or even more dramatically, that if one stops producing you will fail to exist at all. I can relate to this because over the last five years there have been times where the intensity of work or other classes have kept me away from any creative endeavors for a length of time. Although my studio classes have always been the most time consuming and demanding, they are the only ones that I find rewarding because of the life and excitement I garner from having an allotted time already built into my hectic schedule for creating. It is like a welcomed, if required, refreshment from the banality of the other parts of my life. While both the artistic and the non are necessities, they are such for different reasons–former being because I am internally driven to create, latter being so that I have the means in which to continue creating.

Another portion I responded to was that entitled “Art and Science” that addressed the close proximity of these two fields as well as the differences between them. On page 103, “What science bears witness to experimentally, art has always known intuitively…” and on 104, “If a scientist was asked whether the same experiment could be performed with identical results, he would have to say ‘yes’ or it wouldn’t be science…If an artist was asked whether the same work of art could be created again with identical results, he would have to say no, or it wouldn’t be art.” This difference is fundamentally why I chose to pursue art as my major. I don’t see the point in laboring over things that can be done by anyone. I want to spend my time creating something only I can create, discover something only I can discover. To me, the unpredictability and specificity of art makes it more meaningful and important than any science. True, if everyone felt this way, there would be no scientists, and many essential jobs would not be completed. I recognize the importance of science, and that SOMEONE has to do it–but not me.

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