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When Art is not enough

Posted in Opinion by Adele Todd on March 19, 2009

        A parent came to me very concerned with an issue that her teenage daughter is having with her teachers. She was told that she would fail Art at CXC if she chose to do anything outside the narrow parametres of the curriculum.

In one way, this obstacle is the first of many that shall make her hopefully a stronger adult. But it is also one of those maddening things about Art for examinations and for school and Art for life.

Her mother and I both agreed that she would have to adhere to the rules to ‘pass’ her exams, but I suggested further that she continue to explore the side of her work that was considered ‘not exam worthy.’ This week in my teaching I asked the students how many of them draw in their sketchbooks or journals and no one put up their hands. I was shocked at their admission that they are all too busy to draw! This should not be the case at all! They are at a stage where wanting to create should be bursting out of them at every turn, no matter what.

This led me to ask another question, what is happening with Art from a recreational standpoint in Trinidad and Tobago? How many students and artists actually work casually, for joy? We live in times where everyone feels stressed and put upon by the daily dose of  violent crime reportage. I suppose that prevents so many of us from saying that we can have places to go to just talk about art, make art, barter and sell it.

Alice Yard in Woodbrook, is trying to get something going, and there are places like More Vino that show  the work of artists and The Corner Bar shows that art is funky. But yet, what is happening with making work that isn’t graffiti?

I have had students who are making work more than ever, these people have come from a graphic design background and are swamped with their day jobs, but they understand the value of doing other types of work for personal joy.

The students I spoke to really just need to see the huge payoff that comes from making work all of the time. They can be best served with a number of activities where this desire to make work is encouraged for its own sake, or else they are just going to have papers that say that they went to university, but little else to show for it.

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