Ross Bleckner Counsels Young Artists
Ross Bleckner received his Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California. He is well-known for his large-scale paintings in the art world and his works have been shown in esteemed public collections throughout the world, including MoMA, MoCA, Astrup Fearnley, Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mr. Bleckner is also recognized as the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In addition to Mr. Bleckner's works, he has taught at many of the nation's most prestigious universities. Additionally, he is president of Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA), a non-profit community-based AIDS research and treatment education center.
Question: What advice do you have for artists beginning their careers?
Bleckner: I would love, someone else when they see it, to not only say it’s beautiful but hopefully to say that the experience beyond that. I mean, because beauty in the art world, particularly, let’s say, in the kind of academic art world, is a dismissive term, which, essentially, would mean decorative. And I say to students, I say, well, I hate to tell you guys but you can make it as rigorous as you want, you can make it as theoretical as you want but don’t make it that hermetic. Let other people in. You know, remember who are you talking to. You just want to talk to yourself, you want to talk to a few art professionals, or as Barnett Newman said, “You want to hit the ball out of the field.” And I think that’s really important. I think that is a really important part of being an artist. You know, I always had a sense of who I was talking to in my work, who my audience was. It was always very limited. It’s the voices in our head. We all have voices in our head. That’s what I mean by the kind of the weight of consciousness, who those voices are, how they change. Over the years, they change. Sometimes, in my head, those voices… A matter of fact, most of the time, unfortunately those voices are very harsh. They render, really, very astringent criticism, you know, which any artist will tell you. They are their own worst critic. I don’t have to read criticism to know everything that’s wrong with my work. There’s never a critic who said something bad about my work that I didn’t disagree, that I disagree with because I knew, when I read it, that I could do it better. As a matter of fact, when I’ve read good things, it kind of upsets me. I don’t know why, it’s just the way I am. When you talk to students, you tell them… you know, in the end, you could do whatever you want but don’t let these terms and don’t let the academic part of being an artist, the kind of graduate… the graduate school mentality, oppress you because that’s exactly why you became an artist. You know, it’s kind of peeling back of layers. It’s, hopefully, a path to some kind of liberation, some kind of map of how you could find your way out of the, what I consider, the unnecessary suffering that goes on in a lot of our minds all the time.
Ross Bleckner on unleashing your inner artist.
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Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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