Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Art Schmart.

Call it like it is Dana Gioia, new NEA Chairman! Chairman Gioia (pronounced Joy-a) spoke to the graduates of Stanford, who apparently disdained Gioia's lack of personal celebrity. His address was about the vapidness of current culture. This is an informative, if sketchy, read from the San Francisco Chronicle. Stanford snored.


Anonymous said...

The Chronicle article is quite sketchy. Four or five of the most ridiculously dressed graduates hardly makes a representative sample for a graduating class of 1600. Here's a more thoughtful student viewpoint, along with the complete text of the commencement address.

jamm said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for the links. I did read the whole speech and I should have linked to it in the piece, although there was a link, I think, in the Chronicle article.

It is true that the opinions of five people do not fairly represent a class of 1600. That wasn't my point. I wanted to share the alarm. I see that the "Contrarian" gives a grudging nod to Gioia, but seems to articulate the idea that art experiences DO exist, therefore things aren't so bleak. But, I think Gioia expresses a deeper feeling---a dismay about the absence of the breadth and depth of art experience through education, and through a community consensus that art is essential.

One of my theories is that those who can buy the experience of art for themselves and their children are no longer concerned about the problem. However , in the past, these were the very people who assured the community commitment to arts programs for everyone, because most of their children still attended public school. I think sending children to private schools (which in my hometown, Baltimore, is essential) is a big reason art and music programs in the schools have fewer and fewer to champion the worth of art, even if it was sometimes coming from an effete sensibility.

I also think Gioia's arguement about profit driven commercialism and its effect on the culture is just undeniable. Commercialism simply creates in its basest form, desire for things, celebrities and having money. While arts works to create lively, ingenious, innovative people. Arts seem to help, according the current research Gioia points to, move humans from passivity to action. Imagine if people sitting at the airport waiting for the plane were sketching! Imagine. What kind of world would that be?

And its true, the past support for the arts was not all that great, at its best. But, if compared to the past, I think the current situation is dire, and its effect will be damaging for generations, especially in our poor communities . We have to care about it. I praise anyone who makes the effort to sound the alarm. Thanks for your post.