When creative thinkers came together for the College Art Association Conference in Los Angeles last month the differences between attendees was as bright as flags. This is not to say that I am knocking anyone. On the contrary, I found the spectrum to be both enlightening and amusing. At the risk of making generalized statements here, I noticed how very young artists, particularly those just out of school, held conversations and group discussions that often involved sentences starting with, "I make art because..." Was this an attempt at validation? Do we really need a "because?" Isn't that like saying "I breathe because...?"
Then there were the makers whose work has been around a while. This sub-group discussed their matters of art with words such as, "this was my response to..." Ahhh, yes! "a response to something." I get that and while I may not respond in the same way to the same things, art as a response to something demonstrates an awareness that triggers an action. In the case of the artist, it is a creative reaction. Disturbing for me are creative actions that drive sensationalism. Exciting are creative actions that evoke connection.
Aside the "makers," (that typically hold MFA's) in this mix of creatives were the "reporters"- those that study, review, compare, analyze, document and ultimately make conclusions about the makers. The latter are the PhDs. It is difficult to see the differences between these groups just by looking- that is until they open their mouths. I soaked up the presented papers, fascinated by the feast of analytics even when it was difficult, even when the presenter read dully from a sheet with little flux to voice and all I could see was the purple dyed hair that was parted at the top of the PhDs head! "Surely, she will look up soon and show some excitement about her research! We are talking about art after-all!"
None-the-less, this collection of artists and educators, curators and supporters gave me several days of art-thought to process. The daily train ride was exhausting, but worth it, especially considering the conversations that came from strangers who shared insight about the area for us newbies! Next year- CAA is in New York!