What is Art? How do you define an artist? In this blog John Johnston challenges youth workers to re-examine part of the work that they do and even asks them to consider redefining some of it!
Youth Workers as Artists – Young people as artists
Throughout history we have been told that to make ‘great art’ you need to master a specific set of skills or to have received some sort of God given talent. Thankfully this nonsense is no longer the case. Art today is open to all sorts of ideas and methods of making that involves working with a variety of materials in a diverse and creative way. Many artworks involve working with individuals and groups to develop a purpose that is worth communicating to the public.
This method of working is something that a lot of artists now apply to their work, using their art practice, be it painting, sculpture or performance to build relations with new participants and to develop new audiences.
Quite a few are drawn to work with young people and organisations that support community development- presenting events which are seen are ultimately labelled as artworks. The painting, sculpture performance etc. is just seen as a way of getting people to gather.
This form of art making is what the German artist Joseph Beuys called ‘human sculpture’. In other-words making art through and with people rather than about them. Beuys and others changed the view of art as something that sits on a wall or in a gallery to be viewed by the public to something that actually involves the public in the process and making. So the next time a young person who is faced with the challenge of making art says ‘I can’t draw’ – think about how art can be something different and much more inclusive – not exclusive! Where the so-called skills of art making are set well behind the idea and the intention of the artwork. The challenge for the youth worker is find a way of helping the individual or group to communicate that idea. It seems to me that this is what youth workers do everyday- so maybe youth workers need to be sharing their artistic skills with artists!
In his third blog John will discusses how different art projects and processes can create opportunities for us to explore some controversial and even divisive issues.