Students need arts network

To the editor:

The Michigan high-school student who intends a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics is supported with a tender and extreme solicitude. As it is practically pretended, perhaps as pretext, that his training, or a general attention to these areas, has suffered a critical neglect, something odd when one sees preoccupation with them approaching monomania, networks are created to allow him to explore careers in these fields — these fields, but, practically, not others. The high-schooler who intends a career as a painter does not have anything similar. He is largely left alone, abandoned, and suitably, as this is supposed to be a fitting fate, starved of help and resources.

I do not denigrate scientists, engineers or mathematicians. They may well have significant roles to play. But those roles are not more important than the role of, for example, the painter.

The arts are not somehow inferior to the sciences. The student of biology, botany, physics, heraldry, trigonometry or calculus deserves support, but this should be equal to that afforded those who study watercolours, drawing and collage.

As it stands, we live with denial of the obvious. Despite wonderful classes in some schools, despite a few galleries (and the number shrinks) here and there, despite some organizations that are good in some ways, Michigan is killing her artists. The Copper Country, in particular, is killing her artists. And the primary way she is doing it is before their formation.

A slight number of good things are being done, but the absence of a network to support students in the arts like to that in the sciences, even what will be viewed as the improbability of such a proposal, shows a larger problem. The Michigan artist is met with, at best, absent-minded neglect, and, at worst, a withering and hostile war.

Painters are not hobbyists. We do not paint to relax. We paint to survive; we paint as our careers. The next generation of painters will have to come from somewhere, and they may come from high school.

They should be able at that time to explore careers as artists, to connect with galleries, with collectors and noblemen patrons.

They should be introduced to the tools they will need when they make their careers in art.