I can't help reflect about the new generation of artists and designers making their way into society. I was privileged growing up being exposed to historic art influence (though at the time, as a child, one might have argued the "privilege" of being taken to stuffy museums instead of wheeling over to a place with rollercoasters). That exposure to the world of art consistently at a young age etched the importance of historic influence into my mind, and simultaneously into my work as years progressed.
I have seemingly been met lately with a somber reality - many new artists and designers have little to no interest in historic art and design. Is there an overwhelming sense of narcisisism sweeping across young creators in their apathy for anyone's work beyond their own? As a professor, this offers a challenge for me to work even more diligently to create an understanding and respect for historic influence and how it affects a creator's work.
At a recent visit to the AGO, I was able to attend the special exhibit being presented - the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. I felt compelled to follow those with green perspective, watch their reactions to the work, and subtely listen to their verbal response. I was able to absorb the imagery and meaning of the work myself (admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of the Basquiat aesthetic, but was impressed by the depth of concept and application), and, using the Seinfeldian technique of sideling, was able to overhear the murmurs of the scarf and tortoise shell glasses-wearing youth. There was a refreshing change of verbal opinion and body language - a connection to the work, an emotional response. I watched as some of my own students were affected by these images - studying the aggression of the paint, the textures and raw materials used to communicate powerful messages. They seemed overwhelmed and captivated by the scale and significance of the works. After, as we filed into the obligatory gift shop, they seemed lighter, full of interest in discussing the work. Excited.
I have been filled with hope, from the reactions and responses of a few passionate young creators. Perhaps the importance of exposure to historic reference is not completely lost with the youth after all, but concentrated in those who have a heightened passion for their craft, and who possess the potential to create something great.