Thursday, August 8, 2013

Visionary, Idiot Savant or Sage

I haven't ranted in awhile, but I'm becoming more and more annoyed by the application of education as qualifying criteria in art.  Perhaps I'm just bitter because I've often found myself in limbo due to this, especially when seeking solo endeavors.  I have a BFA so I'm not a self-taught "idiot savant" whose talent and creativity supposedly developed free from outside influence, as if incubated and blossoming forth solely from within my soul.  And I don't have an advanced degree so I'm not a "sage" whose focus and dedication has proven my devotion to my art and the study of it.  But I think that art should speak for itself, and that a person should be judged by the merits of their actual work more than where they went to school or didn't. 

I won't deny that higher education can teach focus, hone technical skills and really encourage artists to delve into why they do what they do.  Nor will I ignore the effects of higher education in influencing less strong-willed and/or self-aware students to adapt to program preferences and adopt their professors' principles and styles to strive for acceptance, fit in and get better grades.  But that isn't always the case either way, and focusing on elevating the "idiot savant" or "sage" is limiting and perpetuates stereotypes associated with art and higher education in both directions.

Truly visionaries exist in all range of artists, from the untrained to the scholarly.  Being a visionary has less to do with what letters an artist has or doesn't have behind their name and more to do with how they present themselves in action.  It's more about having the courage to go out on a limb despite being misunderstood and even sometimes villified, and often doing so in isolation, persevering through rejection to chase a dream that no one else understands.

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