The Exclusivity of Visual Art

Visual art is a medium that I have fallen deeply in love with while being enrolled in SASAH. I have enjoyed learning about van Gogh and Ingres and I’m glad I was forced to experience exhibits at the McIntosh Gallery. I have enjoyed learning artistic theory from Plato to Kant and I have loved immersing myself in an art culture with which I was previously unfamiliar.

On February 1st, the second year SASAH cohort continued its exploration of visual art and visited a shared studio space. We were lucky enough to have artists Sky Glabush and Patrick Mahon discuss their work and creative processes with us; it was an incredible opportunity to intrude on such an intimate space and speak with artists in their “natural habitat.”

I was enthralled how personal Glabush was, making me feel as if we were friends. His casual attire and friendliness reassured me that art doesn’t have to be restricted to the bourgeoisie. His informal tone and use of slang made it feel as if he and his art is for everyone. It was comfortable. I was not afraid to breathe, slouch, or approach him. It made me wonder if the lowbrow-highbrow divide is less defined than I thought.

I am not trained in the art of obliviousness, however. I noticed a brand name speaker in the corner and a fancy laptop atop a desk, not to mention the expensive art supplies in the room. I have been thinking about how I was only granted the opportunity to attend the studio because I am lucky enough to attend university. I wear my brand name clothes to class, text on my expensive phone, and look at art on my fancy computer.

Mahon said, “visual art ought not to be too difficult for the public,” but I worry that the only people viewing art are those who can afford it: those who can endure the costs associated with gallery entrance fees, university tuition, or travelling to a city. I am led to believe that art is not for all, but rather few. It appears that there is a monetary value attached to art, making it inaccessible to many, out of reach, and therefore out of comprehension. I come from a low-income family but was fortunate enough to break the barrier; not everyone is as lucky as I am. I felt comfortable listening to Glabush, but both Glabush and I could be at the studio, while many others could not.

Art should be for all and I am saddened that it is not. The trip to the shared studio space has reminded me that I need to check my privilege, and would do well to remember it. Everyone should have access to the cleansing soap that is Art, but many remain covered in dust.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *