Everyone Should Go to Art School
We all know that book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. But for me, well, it was Art School.
I attended Art School at the very young age of 33. It was an explosive and growing time in my life, I was ripe for the experience. Luckily for me I ended up at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Just perfect. It had been billed as a sandbox, a place to explore mediums, styles and push the boundaries of your abilities and sensibilities. Wide eyed and excited I jumped in. Well, turns out, it’s not so easy to be an artist. It takes a lot of personal fortitude. It takes a fierce sense of vision and the ability to express that vision and push it forward. And the SMFA pushed all those buttons for me. It was hard. You have to dig really deep and find your truth. That can be one of the most stressful processes ever. I remember being over the top stressed during finals one time and calling my doctor for some help. He said “so what kind of school are you attending?” I said Art School. He then said “it’s not like it’s medical school or anything.” Ya. That will be a post for another time… on to the topic at hand.
When the anxiety finally settled and I was able to take in what was really going on I started to realize the gift that this experience was. What was happening was that I was figuring out how I really ticked. I started to find the ways that I took information in, looked at it, worked with it and then how I expressed it. I was learning MY process. Not being told by someone else how to learn or how to organize what I was searching for was liberating. It gave me the permission I needed to really find my way on any subject I wanted to. What a cool thing … I was learning how I learned!
But wait.. there’s more. Not only did I have that amazing epiphany, but I also got a magical piece of advice. It was in a drawing class that I took with a soon to be friend – Greg Mencoff. Greg is an easy going mild mannered guy who has sharp perception and a fabulous dry wit. I will never forget the speech he gave the first day of class:
There have only ever been two natural geniuses when it comes to art, Picasso and Rembrandt. For the rest of us it’s all about doing the work. So, let’s get started.
That was the most amazing relief I have ever experienced. Phew! I’m not a genius, I don’t have to be and oh, if I do the work I will grow. Amazing how such a few short sentences can change your life.
So let’s see, here’s what I learned in Art School:
How to find out who I truly am and be that in the world.
How to persevere and do the work, not just thinking that because it’s not instant I’m no good.
How I learn things.
For me, well that’s a damn good list. I’ll take it any day. It’s a set of skills that serves me in all that I do. Wouldn’t trade it for [insert appropriate, overused phrase here]. Take a leap of faith… take an art class.