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Monday, July 11, 2016

"I could tell you everything you need to know...," or We All Stand on the Shoulders of Others, but On Our Own Two Feet


I just opened up a copy of Stuart Horodner's The Art Life: On Creativity and Career to a random page to find this:

"I sometimes say to students, 'You know, I could tell you everything I know, everything I could think of saying, in a day or two. But it wouldn't make any difference because you'd understand all the words, you'd write it all down, it would all make sense, and it would all be absolutely useless to you.  The thing you have to do is act it out.  I say the things, you act the things out. Over two or three, four years you say, 'Ah, now I know what you meant.'"

~ Michael Craig-Martin, p. 42 

Craig-Martin's words were reminiscent of something my major professor / mentor / colleague / friend, Larry Millard once told me: "Ya know, bud, I could tell you nearly every mistake you'd ever make teaching.  The problem is, you'd never see them coming.  You'd only recognize them in the rear-view mirror. You have to make them for yourself.  " 

I tell myself I knew what he meant.  Maybe I even did.  Years later, I really know what he meant...

That also reminded me of something my hugely influential and important undergraduate professor from East Carolina University, Normal Keller, said me when I got my first teaching job at the University of Mississippi.  I had to teach beginning sculpture, and, sure, I had the degrees, but I quickly realized that learning the content was way different from learning how to convey the content. So I called Norman to see if he had any of his old assignments he would share.  He said something to the effect of, "I thought you might call." 

Indeed, sir!  And share he did. [Thank you Norman!]

Lastly, this made me think of David Smith's "Questions to Students" from an undated typescript among the David Smith Papers that was probably written about 1953-54.  #15 has always stayed with me: "Do you think you owe your teachers anything, or Picasso or Matisse or Brancusi or Mondrian or Kandinsky?"

Number 18's pretty good to: "Do you think that your own time and now is the greatest in the history of art, or do you excuse your own lack of full devotion with the half belief that some other time would have been better for you to make art?"

Anyhow, just some thoughts brought about by Horodner's book.  If you want a copy of your own, you can get it directly from the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center for only $25.


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