I admit it . . . I’m an Art Geek

art geek t-shirt

I came across a collection of 20 Examples of Geek Art and Artists on the WebUrbanist site this past week. Browsing through the examples made me think about my own “geekiness.” I wasn’t always an “Art Geek.” I began my career as a drawing and painting major who wanted to teach.

As a beginning art teacher, I taught a pretty traditional approach to art that included things like learning to draw, design elements and principles, painting from still lifes, and so on. But, then, I became interested in photography and started teaching it by having my students create their own pinhole cameras. A budding fascination with “image-capturing devices” and new media led to working with Super-8 cameras to create animated movies in class, and then to video production in the 80s. When I first encountered the Apple IIe in the early 80s, I was primed to begin exploring its potential for image-making.

Here’s one of the first images I took with a video digitizer connected to an Apple IIe computer, which I turned into a silk-screen print titled “Saving Face.”

Screen Print

Throughout those early years, I was bolstered by the writings of Vincent Lanier and his call for art educators to include new media and contemporary culture in the art curriculum. I also found support in the writings of Marshall McLuhan.

Balancing the two worlds of “art” and “technology” hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when I became so mesmerized or taken with the “tool” that I lost the “art” of what I was doing. That’s why I always advocate teaching art with technology, rather than teaching technology in art. When planning projects involving the use of new technology, I always try to make sure they’re “high-tech/high-touch” and whenever appropriate that they combine the use of conventional media along with digital media.

Take it from this old Art Geek when I say as inviting as working with the latest technology may be, there is no need to wire your classroom to the rafters with every form of new electronic gadgetry that comes along. Much can be accomplished with a minimal amount of hardware and software. Remember that a quality art program is defined not by the latest technology, but by the aesthetic, critical, and creative sensibilities that students develop within it.