The title of this post comes from one of my students; it was the best reply I got of the many written on the backs of the yellow index cards I distributed last week. I asked people to think about why it might be a good idea to take an art history class, and most of the responses were thoughtful if not entirely unpredictable. I was a bit surprised that so many were interested in understanding the continuity from past to present, and projecting it into the future. Although several quipped that they were coerced into taking the class (it's required in most programs), most seem to think that it wasn't a bad idea to know something about the history of their craft.
The comments were also rather refreshingly hopeful, and a large number of them saw knowledge of art history as being important to them professionally: gaining a useful vocabulary, knowing what's already been done, being inspired by the works of great artists.
Another student remarked that "It's hard to make a future when you have no knowledge of the past." Now, this kind of insight is exactly what makes my little Borg-enhanced heart go pitty-pat. Many folks my age have noticed an almost terrifying a-historical bent among today's young people, so finding out that we're (at least in part) wrong actually makes us feel better about the future.
After going through a slide show that demonstrated several practical uses for art history, we went on during that first class to discuss the nature of art and its relationship to design. In all three sections of History of Art & Design I I got the sense that everyone really did see a point in the exercise--that learning about history can, in fact, be helpful to artists and designers in the present.
Time will tell, but I'm pretty optimistic about this quarter. I hope at least some of you will contribute to this blog and keep the conversation lively. Here's to ten more good weeks!