Sunday, 12 August 2012

Effective change is always possible.....

I attended a lecture yesterday that positioned "Teaching art from an insiders perspective" as it's core focus. Perhaps because the speaker was faced with the task of a mixed audience, the issues that were tabulated for discussion in the paper appeared far too basic; disallowing therefore  any significant discussion to be borne from it,  that could have addressed and reflected real issues that are eroding the standard of art education throughout the country. Instead  miscellaneous wikipedia-like statistics took over the forum in the preceding discussion slot, thereby hijacking any opportunity for historisizing and contextualising the progress of art  teaching over the years;  and analysing any resulting impact of this upon contemporary Indian art, if at all, and visa versa.

The real issue that becomes the stumbling block in such instances is more to do with misconceived proprietary notions. Educational institutions must be open to critique and censure. To over protect them and condone deliberate apathy by continuously blaming bureaucratic interference for perhaps ones own lack of imaginative intervention as educators,  would be a grave folly. Love for the vocation of teaching alone is not what motivates many to become art teachers, so this virtuous charade of chest beating must stop too.  It is a rather cushy job with a substantial pay packet to boot and plenty of free time, so let's do the job boys, and quit complaining!

I have grown weary of hearing the laments of limitations that one is met with if you have any probing query regarding the Baroda fine arts faculty. I thankfully grew up in an era of teaching at the same institution thirty years ago, where the homes of my teachers extended into exciting spaces of learning too. Film screenings and informal lectures occurred that had no connection with seeking approval from any university office whatsoever! These were also "practising artists" who in those days really didn't have the infra-structure of support  of a gallery system that is thriving today. Yet the generosity of spirit of these individuals created a system of learning that didn't ever compromise itself on the laments of limitations! 

I have some good friends who teach at the faculty of fine arts in Baroda. I respect their efforts, but the"boys club" and it's stuffy shirted pomposity with the "rolling of the eyes" drama of fake frustration is all really growing rather tiresome. The hallmark of educators like Nasreen Mohammedi and K.G Subramanyan is their insistence of inclusiveness as a methodology of learning; and the potency of their legacy as teachers is established because they didn't seek to play "professorial" roles, and held a genuine desire to engage with polemic discourse. Their insightfulness  came from a lived and exemplified premise of excellence as artists, who constructed their vision of teaching from the  wisdom that came from respecting that others too hold the quality to contribute to the collective concerns of art education.  

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