Friday, June 13, 2014

the origins of art...

Inside view Church of St. Roch
No one can spend any time at all in Paris without some sense of it having been crafted by earlier hands. Here is what John Dewey said about the origins of art:
"I think everybody who has not a purely literary view of the subject recognizes that genuine art grows out of the work of the artisan. The art of the Renaissance was great, because it grew out of the manual arts of life. It did not spring up in a separate atmosphere, however ideal, but carried on to their spiritual meaning processes found in homely and everyday forms of life. The school should observe this relationship. The merely artisan side is narrow, but the mere art, taken by itself, and grafted on from without, tends to become forced, empty, sentimental. I do not mean, of course, that all art work must be correlated in detail to the other work of the school, but simply that a spirit of union gives vitality to the art, and depth and richness to the other work. All art involves physical organs, the eye and hand, the ear and voice; and yet it is something more than the mere technical skill required by the organs of expression. It involves an idea, a thought, a spiritual rendering of things; and yet it is other than any number of ideas by themselves. It is a living union of thought and the instrument of expression. This union is symbolized by saying that in the ideal school the art work might be considered to be that of the shops, passed through the alembic of library and museum into action again." John Dewey, The School and Society, 1899
Paris, while we've been here, has been alive with children on field trips from school. There were streams of them climbing the stairs up to the Eiffel Tower from boats at the River Seine. If you can imagine a group of 30 or more students and teachers crowding onto the Metro at a single time and through a single door, you get the idea of what it takes to infuse children with an understanding of the arts. It can be a messy operation and one that is not without some small risks. I heard of no child being left behind, and taking students on the metro gives a different understanding of the phrase that George W. Bush used to terrorize American education.

Make, fix, and please create...

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