By Ricardo Tomasz and Hannah Sparks
The American art community is in shambles, and America is losing the Art Race. I use the term “race” intentionally because art is truly a natural resource.
After decades of undermining the infrastructure that supports American art (NEA, media campaigns, slashing Arts in schools), those that seek to destroy art are on the verge of getting their wish, as the body of American art has atrophied into a husk of its former self.
Why is this important?
Like the space race before it, the Art Race has vast repercussions that reverberate throughout society.
According to NASA, “The consequences of space exploration as already undertaken stand before us for examination. They occur on many levels: commercial applications, education and inspiration to youth, applications satellites, scientific benefits, and philosophical implications.”
However, the immediate impact of the Space Age is far more diverse than the ultimate discovery of life in space. In her new book “Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond,” Marina Benjamin argues that space exploration has shaped our world views in more ways than one. “The impact of seeing the Earth from space focused our energies on the home planet in unprecedented ways, dramatically affecting our relationship to the natural world and our appreciation of the greater community of mankind, and prompting a revolution in our understanding of the Earth as a living system” (Benjamin).
To put it in more real terms, look at how America’s scientific and technological development skyrocketed after they reached the moon, and how Russia’s flatlined. It’s no coincidence that America invented the internet and had technological visionaries like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who took personal computing to new heights.
Would this have happened without the commercial applications, scientific benefits, education, and inspiration to youth that came out of the Space Race?
Artistic development shapes world views and changes cultures in unexpected ways–as does lack of artistic development.
In addition, the art world has been taken hostage by two forces affecting every aspect of the American experience: celebrity culture and financial bifurcation. Art critics like David Hickey have pointed out that all an artist needs is to develop name recognition amongst a small circle of wealthy buyers and dealers. They can then charge vast amounts of money for their work, causing other artists to imitate in a desire to chase the money. Meanwhile, some of the most daring art is being done for free (via street art) by artists who prefer spray painted alleys over galleries. The result is a temporary “flash-canvas” which rarely lasts long and has limited influence.
America needs to push forward on every front, including the arts!
I don’t just mean painting, I mean all the arts: canvas, sculpture, performance art, fashion, interactive media, film–ALL OF IT!