Hi Tuomas and everyone else!
Just thought I’d include my point of view to the conversation as well because it is very interesting to see how similar our perspectives are regardless of our different backgrounds and experiences.
I chose to study art as a passion. Growing up art was the only thing that I liked to do and it still is. Then as I got older I had to concentrate more on school because it is what my family expected of me, so I pushed away from Art for a while to focus on academics. Luckily I was able to study it in the University, but not until my third year because of lack of space in the classes.
I completely agree that you do fall into this kind of limbo of whom you are perceived as, instead of who you actually are in the art world and society in general. I used to hear 'what are you gonna do with that Degree?' all the time from both sides of the spectrum (Familiar and Academic) and to be honest, I can say that I am still figuring it out.
Seeing the way that the establishment of School and Art systems work (not only individually but in relation to one another as well), I have come to learn that I really don’t want to have to fit into a space where I don’t feel comfortable, so I aspire to imagine and carve out my own, where others who feel like I do can find that same comfort that I am currently still seeking.
Social structure is interesting in all of this because art has been seen as a ‘leisure’ or ‘commodity’ considering that IT TAKES TIME AND MONEY, which many people who are in the working class do not have enough of. Not only that, but there is also knowledge and resources (or lack-there-of) that never reach some communities/people because they are too busy working or have no idea they exist. For example, I didn’t know Art High School’s existed until I was already studying at the University and there was no way for my parents or siblings to know either because there was really no time to do so from what I saw growing up. It’s almost like there was no choice, especially considering things like funding for schools.
So you are getting hit from both sides: family trying to pay bills and schools not being able to provide either (but not by choice). Where I am from, there was a lot of lack of money for resources and materials from Elementary School to High School; when that happens, the first thing to go is Art - every time. That shows you how little importance is put on something that is so crucial to learning not only about the world, but about ones-self, too. I only took one art class during my whole childhood, and that was in my last year of high school (which was coincidentally the only year they offered that art class and the teacher struggled to keep it from being canceled the whole semester).
Coming from a world that is developing faster than it should be, it is very common for people to bring up the fact that art is supposedly 'not where it’s at’ (not lucrative) because of all of the advances in technology that are pushing people further from hands-on work to computer/tech based work; that if you want to do well you have to have a corporate office job or go into business, but that is only perception of ‘success’.
I am personally still working and developing (slowly but surely) as an artist to show people that it is possible to make a career out of your passion; you just have to work actively to make it a reality. After observing and reflecting on my own experiences ‘in the art world' I still don’t feel that it is the space for me, socially or academically, so I really don’t want to learn how to work it, or go by its rules. I want to make something that is my own, in collaboration with others to be able to teach communities about the importance of art in our lives, not only about what established individuals consider to be good art. I want to encourage the ‘other’ to empower themselves through the Art itself and then share their perspectives so that others can learn from them, too.
We are now living in such a fast-paced world that people think that if they don’t get with the program they will fall behind. But we always have to remember that quality takes time…
I hope you are all doing well, talk to you soon and thank you so much for sharing your stories!
-- Victoria Ayala