Art for Everyone?

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Carrie Ellen Brummer, an artist, teacher, learner, and dreamer who is writing a compelling book about… well, I’ll let her share the story.

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When I finished my presentation for my visual arts honors’ thesis, I cried my eyes out.  I was standing in front of all my professors and the 40 plus people who attended, with tears running down my cheeks.

Untitled by Bethany Edwards

“Don’t worry, this usually happens…   Nice shoes.”  My sculpture prof and his wife knowingly patted me on the back and wandered off to look at a peer’s paper installation.

Speaking about my art in front of that group is the most intimidated I have ever felt.  Art can be scary, even for artists!  Why?  The art world promotes and celebrates an elitist attitude that discourages most people from engaging with it.


The arts are a celebration of our cultural heritage, historical and social evolution, and ultimately the human spirit.  No other species creates, with awareness, like we do.  Yet, we live in a world where art is hidden away and set in intimidating environments, leaving the general populous scratching their heads.

We deserve more.

ARTspeak is an e-book born out of my frustration with the current art world.  It is for the art curious, the art insecure and anyone who supports the arts.  My goal with the book is to offer insight into the artistic process and teach strategies for interpreting and reading art.  In ARTspeak I share:

  1. The basic tool set of an artist.
  2. Examples of how to use the tools for reading and understanding art.
  3. Questions to ask when looking at an artwork.
  4. Further resources for art appreciation.
Abstract Cityscape by Sruthi Kainady

Art is a language just like any other and if you don’t have training or practice in a language, how can you engage with the culture?!?  Is it not interesting that as we develop into a more visual society with advertisements, movies and graphic novels in our everyday, we lack the tools to engage with those visuals?  Do you want to be a passive observer, taking in those images, or do you want to have a voice and active role in digesting the images around you?  We all have a reason for our opinions… it is time that we begin to understand why.

Sneak preview of the book’s introduction:

In my introductory art course at Colgate University, I had a professor who started with a dialogue asking us to define art.  He presented slides of all kinds of images and we were to guess whether the image presented showcased something already labeled “Art” or if it was “just” a photograph.  We went through slide after slide and people were shouting out yes, no, with some dialogue and argument in between.  At one point, we came to this image of a bike.  The tires, rather than the normal circular shape we all know, was hexagonal (not sure about the number of sides really).  It was toward the end of the class and we were all beginning to wear out.  A student laughed out loud and said, “Well, that is definitely not art.”

The professor paused, looked at all of us with a bemused smirk, and replied, “That is one of my pieces.”

I don’t want anyone else to feel the way that student did.  I felt my stomach sink into the floor on that day. I hope ARTspeak can be one way for people to build their confidence to speak about and engage with the arts.

Can’t wait for ARTspeak to be released at the end of July 2011?  Want some basics of art interpretation?  Read my post, “Discussing Art: A Beginner’s Guide.”

If you think ARTspeak could be of interest to you please keep up to date with Artist Think, my blog that supports art education, creative inspiration and artistic goal-setting.  I will publish the book via the blog. Subscribers will get the book two weeks sooner than the general populace as a thank you for supporting the arts and Artist Think!  ARTspeak will be free to the public so please spread the word and share it with others.  We all deserve more from our arts, will you be a part of it?

A special thank you goes out to Patrick Ross of The Artist’s Road for this opportunity to guest post.  It is an honor to participate in a blog that celebrates the arts!

photo by Stephanie Boutin

Carrie Ellen Brummer has been an arts instructor for more than 6 years, and currently teaches IB Visual Arts in Dubai, where she leads workshops on incorporating the arts into regular classroom curricula.  She has won teaching grants in both the United States and Dubai for different artist projects, one of which promotes consumption awareness. She blogs at Artist Think and tweets at @ArtistThink. The striking visual art on this post was provided by Carrie and reprinted with the artists’ permission.

10 thoughts on “Art for Everyone?

  1. Carrie, I’m so pleased to have you guest posting here! Thanks for sharing your story with my readers, and best of luck finishing your exciting book. (And thanks for the little shout-out at the end, I almost cut that out but I don’t like to edit my guest posters!)


    1. Thanks again for having me! I’m excited to finish it, I’m going to really jump in again this weekend… I’ve reached formatting, which is totally new to me. And you are welcome… I’m glad you didn’t edit it out!


  2. I got an undergraduate degree in Business (obedient daughter pressured by parents) yet took art studio classes because I couldn’t give up the passion. I had one art professor who on the first day of class saw my major listed next to my name and suggested I drop the class–not a real artist. I didn’t drop the class, but he never liked me. Fortunately I persisted. Today I work as a businesswoman AND am an artist and writer. Thankfully, technology has opened a gate that galleries and curators can’t keep.

    Best of luck with the book. I’ll watch for it.


    1. Thank you for sharing! I was initially pressured out of the arts myself. And its amazing to me how many educators will do things that harm their discipline! I’m so glad to hear you stuck with it and are doing many things.


  3. I eagerly await your book! I grew up with an artist (my father) and learned to enjoy art, but I feel I’ve lost the appreciation in recent years. Thanks for your art for the people approach – I look forward to reading more.


  4. Carrie, your book sounds wonderful. I started my free-lance career writing about art, even though I didn’t know much about it. The world of galleries and “official” art is intimidating to say the least, and yet you are correct–art is for all of us. I’ll buy your book!


  5. Kate Arms-Roberts


    Just reading this post inspires me to be more intentional teaching my kids about art. I heading over to your blog now.


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