Monday, October 21, 2013

Drunk on Childhood

Pablo Picasso is oft-quoted as saying that we're all born artists, and that the hard thing is to stay artists as we get older. But he doesn't tell us how we're supposed to do that.

I think one of the best ways is just to avoid growing up at all. At least, not in the conventional sense. In the conventional sense, to grow up is to "put away childish things," but I don't like that. I think it's far better to grow up by adding adult things onto the childish ones -- allowing them to temper and inform that childishness, but without ever letting go of what was so awesome about being a kid.

That was one of the guiding principles I tried to incorporate into the way I ran my classroom, back when I was a high school Art teacher. Which is how you ended up with scenes like the following one from Graphic Design Class, where half of my students were working on Graphic Design (or facebook, more likely) and the other half were improvising a song that started with a riff on a poster I'd put up called "How To Be an Artist." Behold:


graphic design class from josh barkey on Vimeo.

Sometimes I wonder how much of that playfulness will stick with those students as they move through their lives.

One young man I'm a little less worried about (as of yesterday) is DT, the chap in the black-and-gray fleece who played that harmonica with a confidence that belied his complete lack of experience, then begged me to let them parade through the halls of the school, making minstrel-magic for his fellows.

The reason I'm less worried about him is because he's just gotten a little bit internet-famous for an awesome display of chutzpah on national television at a Clemson football game, where DT is, I have zero doubt, one of the most ardent fans in their history. Most people would need booze to act like that. DT didn't (that's soda he's pouring on himself), because he's got something even better -- his childhood.

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