aesthetic education

My brain is definitely wired differently than most. I have to say that though I believe this statement is true, I really wish is wasn’t. I have been reading Eric Booth’s “Teaching Artist’s Bible” for grad school right now and it raises many excellent issues. The basic premise it that in our increasingly art-starved culture, the onus on building new audiences in any medium is on the artist. Therefore, each artist MUST be a teaching-artist. We have to be able to find entry points to enable our diverse audiences to enter into the world our art inhabits and have a meaningful experience. I know this part is true, and I firmly believe that every person has the ability to engage with art forms. Where my brain differs: I am naturally curious about all the arts. Though I am highly trained in music, I can appreciate dance, theater, painting, and photography (my personal favorite!). I have trouble believing that there are people out there for whom the arts are a frivolous pursuit, and not the necessary component of human expression I see them to be.

A case in point: I spent about 6hrs. today on a bus and around $85 of my money to travel 130 miles to New York to see War Horse at Lincoln Center (the play,  not the movie). Obviously, everyone there felt the same way I did, to a lesser or greater degree. It was one of the best theater experiences I have had! I am a total techie, so of course I was blown away by all the technical details: the line array sound system, the time delayed speaker clusters, the lighting, the projection, and the puppetry! Watching 4 men bring a collection of fabric and cane to life as magnificent horses with distinct personalities was breathtaking. I have wanted to see this show since I saw the TED talk about the horses last year, and I was not disappointed. After reading Booth, I was thinking about the grander themes present in the play, and how all the little details contributed to the bigger aesthetic vision present in this work of art. I am still curious about the role of the goose in the play (a standout bit-character, and puppet).

I am lucky that I have enough background that I can at least feel comfortable attending a play and enjoying it as a work of art without an obvious entry point. Perhaps my background is actually my entry point. Seeing a work at this level inspires me to go back to the practice room and keep working on my art. I constantly feel fortunate to have the time and ability in my life to try to engage with art and aesthetic issues on a daily basis. Seeing the horrors of war so artfully (and horribly, in the case of the vultures) portrayed hammered this point home yet again.

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