A friend of mine, a priest in his mid-60s, was speaking in a discussion regarding domestic problems that lead to violence. In the group there where about 10 people, mostly middle aged with a good idea what it was like to be in such a situation. Taking part in the group was a social worker in her early twenties, a graduate in her chosen field.
At one point, the priest stated how difficult the situation often is, especially if drugs or gambling was involved. He said that the hardest part was to make someone see the problem and help him or her tackle it.
The young social worker interrupted and said she disagreed with him completely as there where ways and means to go about it.
The priest calmly told her that he was talking from experience, years of experience.
She snapped back at him: "I don’t think you know what you’re saying, and remember, I graduated in my field."
The priest and the rest of the group went silent. She knew better by the looks of it and years of experience mean nothing, as it seemed.
This little story reminds me of a meeting I had with a graduate in art, still in his early twenties as well. I had applied for exhibition space. He looked at my work and dismissed it completely, saying it is not art. Obviously I felt both hurt and angry to hear those words.
I asked on what grounds he was saying that. He said he knew what he was saying as he had studied art. So it seems that a graduation certificate makes you an expert in art, and years of experience fly out of the window. He bent his head and said nothing else. My reaction was to vow never to set foot in there ever again.
Lesson learned, smudge paint, call it the smell of roses and there you go, you’re an artist by this guy’s (and many like him) standards.
Lesson 2. I attend an opening of a show, many works by a talented young man. No subject or theme, just a whole lot of paintings in many media, both figurative and abstract, as if to show off what he can do. Obviously the result of a course in fine art. The person opening the exhibition hails him as an artist.
My question: if this person’s first solo show makes him/her an artist, what does a real artist who has studied and practiced his chosen art all his life, make him/her?
I’ll leave the answer up to you.