After all of the festivities and visiting during the holidays, Boxing Day has been my first day to kick back in a while- work was busy before we have our winter break, and then getting ready for my parents to come and hosting holiday dinner.
Generally people spend Boxing Day visiting or waiting in hellishly long lines at the mall to buy a new TV. I dislike crowds and there was a blizzard overnight last night, so I’ve spent my day eating my way through leftovers and thinking about all of the children who are encouraged to make art by receiving gifts this year. I remember drawing a lot as a kid, and my family and friends really reinforced it, I would get boxes with construction and tracing paper and all of the supplies needed to fill them up.
This lead me to thinking about encouragement for children to ‘follow their dreams’ and the general upbringing of my generation (the dreaded millennials). I remember talking to one of my close friends (who is an artist and works in an art field) about how he was looking over proposals for some outdoor public installations with a big budget, and one of them wanted to incorporate high-school students into the project. His partner thought that was fantastic to get young people involved in art, how wonderful. My friend and I felt differently. We both recall being young and being involved in art projects, and the excitement and elation we felt. That is the fantastic part, but what comes after as an adult is the downside.
Adults are excited and supportive about their child being creative…. until they decide they want to keep doing it as an adult, or even as a career choice! that causes adults to panic. Everyone knows there are no jobs or money associated with art! The people who succeed are the people who are lucky and have lots of connections, not always the people who are the most talented. This brings me back to having high-school students participating in these big projects to get them involved in the art scene. Is it ethical to have teenagers (with their undeveloped brains) participate in large scale projects? Is this taking advantage of the public’s perception that involving children will be worthwhile, when really you’re showing a group of young people something that is incredibly rare in the art community, and making them feel that this is a worthwhile way to make money.
I’m all for artists, I think everyone should be creative. But I also think we need to start treating young adults like young adults and not like children who are looking for Santa Claus. Showing teenagers that artists can get grants to make work is not the truth. We should be telling them that after decades of hard work, they could get a grant to make their work for lots of people to see but they need to work for it. Creative fields are hard work, and they’re usually done in the middle of the night after your job that pays the bills. It’s worth it, but the payment you get might not pay your bills.