Visual art has always been the most compelling force throughout my entire life that I could always turn to, no matter how tough times were. My desire to draw as a child was insatiable, and I relished every weekly art class in elementary school.
In high school, I found myself with meager options to study visual art. I was a decent academic student, but I was not a star athlete, the two areas that were glorified by the other students. Socially, I was awkward, shy, isolated, and always felt out of place. Visual art was the thing I knew I was good at, the only subject I deeply enjoyed. For all the other students, art class was a joke, the class you took when you wanted an easy A. The art teachers I had were incompetent, and consequently, the art classes were remedial and pathetic. Basically, I had to teach myself.
I felt alone, lost, and embarrassed by my interest in visual art. Other students were studying classical music with world renowned musicians at places like the New England Conservatory Preparatory school, and I heard constantly about students who were being sent to prestigious, national soccer tournaments. For me, there was no equivalent in the visual arts. And this was at an excellent public school in an affluent neighborhood, I can’t imagine circumstances are any better at most other schools.
From speaking to my students, it upsets me to find out that the situation is exactly the same as it was twenty years ago for me. The vast majority of high school students who want to learn visual art are on their own.