Archive: Education Philosophy

The following quotes from artists and writers describe ArtSeed’s philosophical discussions:

“The impulse to raise the status of things is the main sublimatory tactic of art.”
–Mike Kelly, artist

“I believe in aristocracy though–if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages. And there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity; a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.”
–E. M. Forster’s Two Cheers for Democracy

“Artists who love their themes don’t understand their predicament. Those who hate their themes, knowing that only what can’t be ignored, absorbed, or accepted must be addressed. They recognize them as invasions of the psychic envelope, infections around which art forms like a scab. If only a cure were possible; if only they could return to that placid state of self-absorption which being an artist seems to promise: Those days of idle hours filled with thoughts of nothing in particular. But the hated theme requires constant treatment. To get it, the artist is dragged from his isolation and forced into the world among the other victims of experience.”
–Stephen Ellis, NY artist and critic

“You can, as an artist, try to say something big about life; or be content to make the stuff in your hands come to life. And this humbler task is the greater, for all else merely follows.”
–Leo Steinberg’s Other Criteria

Gertrude Stein said she aimed to express and experience three things with her writings: 1) a beginning again; 2) a continuous present; and 3) an including of everything. Jasper Johns said it was only after he first learned how to make something that he figured out what he wanted to express. I believe in offering the broadest possible scope of skills and ideas to students. Classical arts, folk art and ancient non-western traditions share interesting connections with 20th century experimental art, design, and electronic new media. Seeing and discussing great works of art is essential to developing an understanding of ourselves and of the world we live in. However, I have had classroom teachers admonish me for discussing the religious content of paintings by Caravaggio with their students. They clip the roots of our culture with misguided political correctness.

“Demonstrations by living artists take us inside various methods for handling archival and recycled, low and high tech materials. Yet low expectations and fear of intimidating students often lead teachers to ‘dumb down’ their art programs and exclude live art-making by professional artists. “Age appropriateness” should not mean eliminating challenges or discussions of the historical context of art. Most people, when they are given the time to look and the context with which to consider its meaning, recognize the ability of art to improve lives. Trying it themselves often gets them hooked! The individuals and ideas I have encountered in 20 years of professional art-making and in 13 years of teaching have helped me ‘revert to a healthier state of ignorance'(Jonathan Fineberg). In this state I can include everything, be continuously present and I can experience beginning again.”
–Josefa Vaughan

The following quotes were texts relating to the theme of ArtSeed Summer Camp and Exhibition 2000. Excerpts were memorized by students for the culminating performance at Southern Exposure, San Francisco.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson (often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Speech.)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, V.1., William Shakespeare

“The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

“If–“, Rudyard Kipling

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream– and not make dreams your master;
If you can think– and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings– nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And– which is more– you’ll be a Man, my son!”


The Arts & the Future of Youth – An Interview with Shirley Brice Heath
Hills Project Sixth Period Art Class – Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Room 201
ArtSeed Summer Camp – Benjamin Franklin Middle School
SFAEP Interview
Description: ArtSummer Visual Arts Camp
Project Description: Dante’s ArtSeed Inferno