A Mini-Essay on Art

Sci-fi Art I Sci Fi II

I came across these old drawings.  I did a lot of this sort of Sci-Fi art at one time.  When I made art to please myself, I enjoyed making pictures like this; when I went to art school, I found discouragement directed towards the Sci-fi themes—to the extent that I painted over a lot of my old work.  Certainly, Sci-fi art exists on a spectrum; certainly, the spectrum can extend into cheesiness.  The same is true of every aesthetic or style.

There is a canon of virtues in what might be called the art bureaucracy, consisting of so many contrasting motifs.

Important/Not important

Serious/Not serious

Commercial/Not commercial

Weak/Strong

Pretty/Ugly

Safe/Unsafe

The last is interesting.  Particularly when an artist adheres to feminine characteristics:  soft colors, romantic imagery, thin paint, minimum texture, etc., the artist may be told that she (possibly he) is being “safe”.  What is safe or unsafe is in fact, what conforms to or threatens an established system.  One system substituted for another is not inherently more worthwhile than the first simply because it represents a different set of values.  If artists are discouraged from self-expression and steered towards an institutionalized perspective, the structure is highly conservative, regardless of the canon disseminated.

If a cottage painting (or a Sci-fi painting) is so threatening, that it must be condemned, then it must be good art, if it meets the “unsafe” criterion.  Or else, the “unsafe” criterion itself should be condemned.  However, politics and bureaucracies create systems for their own perpetuation.  And that has nothing to do with art.

Processes are measured by outcomes; a wrong outcome indicates a wrong process.  If students leave art schools feeling that they have not been encouraged to express their own vision, but steered towards an institutional perspective; if they feel they are not asked to make their own art, but someone else’s art—either the outcome is political, or it is a failure.

Welcome! Questions?

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