This is the fourth edition of ‘Quotes from the Field’ (See: previous posts), where quotes from artists are interpreted within the framework of educational themes. This edition features quotes by modern and contemporary artists Cy Twombly, Scooter LaForge and Catherine Wagner.
“I look at a lot of artists. I’m inspired by – I suppose I shouldn’t say ‘inspired,’ but it’s not really influenced. I am inspired. Art comes from art.” – Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly’s awe-inspiring paintings and drawings were inspired by his participation in the Abstract Expressionist, as well as the lineage of painting, dating back to Ancient civilizations in Europe and Africa. Twombly’s work contributed a unique aesthetic vocabulary to the language of abstraction. While Abstract Expressionism was being celebrated as an American art movement, Twombly revisited Modern Art’s European and African roots, in order to blur the lines between the past and present and transcend geographical boundaries.
Twombly’s aesthetic dynamism combined the inner dialogue of Abstract Expressionist painting with a lyrical re-presentation of ancient Greco-Roman culture. This artistic dialogue shifted the paradigm within the American expressionist mode. In addition to the process oriented, ‘action painting,’ Twombly added layers of text mark making that reference Greek and Roman mythology, geography, history and contemporary graffiti.
One of the main responsibilities of an art educator (or educator in general) is to present an open-ended view of multiculturalism and the unique cultural identities throughout our global community. A great way to engage and implement themes of multiculturalism, is to show how art has informed and shaped our perception of ourselves and our environment.
Art is intrinsically connected to the natural and supernatural world around the artist and the viewer. It is informed by past and present forms of creativity, and can be understood most repletely as a continuum of artful explorations, discoveries and insights.
The creation and interpretation of art is largely based on the experiences of groups and individuals within civilization. This means that we have similar and different perspectives about themes, topics and issues that are happening simultaneously. Through studying art, we learn to make connections between our own familiar backgrounds and the cultures of other co-existing individuals and communities. Artists are great observers, participants and contributors of culture. A good artist understands how to look at the art of the past and present in order to find symbolic relationships and create new meanings based on prior cultural instances.
Educators, artists and art historians should be keen to the diversity within the cultural environment and be willing to delve deeper into practices and theories that are outside of the traditional canons. Learning about how art from across the globe is relative to the complete human condition can increase our own sense of collective purpose and inspire us to be more innovative and empathetic.
“Now I paint what I feel, rather than what I see.” – Scooter LaForge
“Draw what you see and not what you know” is somewhat of a mantra within primary and secondary art education settings (and introductory art classes at any level). This phrase is a useful to support the development of foundational art making skills. The key to a beneficial and well rounded art education is transitioning and going back and forth between representing what you see and conveying what you feel.
Once student artists have learned to trust their eyes and become astute observers of the world around them, then they can hone in on what makes a work of art unique: personal expression and symbolic meaning. The latter elements are derived from internal impulses and a playful, yet serious interaction between subconscious activities and metacognition.
Communicating and transforming personal expression into visible and interpretive forms is the artist’s forte. Scooter LaForge spent several long and challenging years immersing himself in material based explorations and building a repertoire of subject matter, which was inspired by New York City and the dynamic energy of its cultural landscape. Other sources of inspiration are results of his travels and passionate involvement in personal and communal experiences. His style is deeply representative of how he sees himself as an artist and a contributing member to several different subcultures (i.e. fashion, visual art and the LGBTQ art scene) within the creative community. Looking at LaForge’s paintings, which are composed in a manner akin to the Expressionist mode of art, it is apparent that he is a painter who liberally exudes his feelings through the gestural application of paint.
“The process of making art is about integrity and about defining one’s place in society.” – Catherine Wagner
Catherine Wagner’s artworks investigate how civilizations develop, implement and define elements of humanity such as love, unity, education, ambition and how we display self and collective-worth. Working expressively through the lens of the camera, Wagner’s photographs communicate narratives of the daily systems and experiences that humans observe and interact with, such as scientific methods, architectural foundations and educational environments.
Artists make art to explore and communicate insightful and deeply humanizing topics. Making art is uniquely connected to expressing one’s unique identity, questioning societal roles and meanings, and synthesizing a range of feelings, emotions and thoughts into a cohesive and sincere messages.
The arts give individuals of all ages and backgrounds an opportunity to express themselves within the context of how they perceive themselves in society. It is a powerful resource for developing self-esteem, exhibiting empathy and making an impact within the community.
Do you have a favorite artistic quote that relates to themes or topics on learning or education? If so, and you feel inspired to share, please comment below or send via the contact form.
References, Notes, Suggested Reading:
Bonetti, David. “Humans Absent From, but Central to Wagner Photos: Exhibition Confirms Her High Standing.” San Francisco Chronicle, 29 March 2001. http://articles.sfgate.com/2001-03-29/entertainment/17588924_1_george-moscone-convention-center-catherine-wagner-painting
Jones, Chelsea. “How Twombly Changed Abstract Expressionism.” Canvas. 24 Apr. 2017. https://canvas.saatchiart.com/art/art-history-101/how-twombly-changed-abstract-expressionism
Krasner, Bob. “Scooter LaForge paid his dues and kept painting.” The Villager. 5 Feb. 2009. https://www.thevillager.com/2019/02/scooter-laforge-paid-his-dues-and-kept-painting/