Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The joy and power of a creative act...

Yesterday I posted an earlier blog entry on the subject of art history, and today I'll share a letter from a friend of mine George Lundeen. George and I had been best friends in college and he had gone on to establish a dynasty in the making of bronze sculpture, some of which is monumental in scale. The bronze at left is of William Clark and is part of a life-size series on the Lewis and Clark expedition. George writes:
"The schools have dropped the ball when it comes to teaching. I think your ideas about working with your hands and creating something has a much deeper and life lasting effect on anyone who ever has that chance. This past year, my son was taking an Art History class and was totally bored and frustrated that he had to sit and watch slides and listen to a teacher who simply read from the text or remembered what her teacher had read from the text.
"In a meeting I had with her I told her of a couple teachers who I thought were the best Art teachers and how they had brought the art to the students by having the students make art and incorporate the creativity into the history. Sadly she said she had her way of teaching and had not had a problem with the administration about her performance. A hands-on approach would, I think work wonders with many disciplines in the educational field. After all isn't that what we all do, when we leave academia, join the unwashed and have to learn how to finally do something in order to survive? How fortunate are we to have found something to keep our minds and hands busy for so long and been able to feed our families and thrive.

"I think it's time to build a pottery shop in the barn and get back to teaching a few kids including my own how much fun it is and how simple it is to make something useful from the earth....the most useful thing being the doing itself!"
George had been a university professor for a few years before pursuing his sculpture career full time. So, what else can I say? The hands-free notion is a plague on all of American education. We can fill lecture halls with students checking their status on face book and the Universities can be paid trillions of dollars for it. The school administrations are happy with how things are working for them... but we have kids in the street protesting Wall Street because there are no jobs. Wouldn't it be better for all if they had been taught to actually do something? And thus lessen our dependence on the ignoramuses of Wall Street who despite being given trillions in bailout money can offer no solutions to the American economic dilemma but to continue to pay exorbitant bonuses to their executives?

But children are drawn to the heroic. Just as my friend George is drawn to heroic themes in his work, we each need the opportunity to identify with things greater than ourselves. To fall into a tradition of crafts can offer those heroic opportunities as we give things at hand our very best, our greatest care and deepest attention.

Make, fix and create... The future of our nation lies in your hands, not theirs.


  1. And Furthermore, I Have No Brain

    A lifetime of sniffing methylene chloride, mineral spirits, kerosene, various forms of alcohol, PVC machining fumes and all the other fun stuff that comes with working with our hands has resulted in Jarlsberg for a brain. Then there was all the bug repellant, DDT and of course that stuff we partook of in our undergraduate days.

  2. Anonymous9:58 AM

    So maybe kids use their hands to play with their smart phones since they don't get to use their hands in school to do anything interesting or useful.