Going to school as a young kid, I was always taught about artists in the classroom. Put simply; I thought it was fascinating stuff, seeing art that was capable of depicting so many things. After a while, we entered the modern period, and I thought it was an absolute joke that Jackson Pollock's art was put on the same level as someone like Francisco Goya, an expert at romanticism in his art. I did not blindly hate modern artists; I enjoyed paintings by Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade but was told by people in the art world that they were “kitschy” or otherwise lacking. This weird equivalency taught me to look critically at each piece of art, as with all things, art has an inherent hierarchy of quality.
When looking at Iowa State, I saw that tons of art existed on campus, which I thought was important. I was very much excited to see beautiful picturesque photos and paintings; something focused on beauty. Instead, I found a mishmash of “art” that seemed to fulfill nothing. It was worse than simply being bad; it was very much lazy. There were lines mashed against a wall symbolizing some stupid modern event such as the abortion ban in Texas. It was uninspired, lazy and ugly. After my first month here, I strongly considered installing guerilla art that had some semblance of meaning. I have not done that yet, unfortunately.
What makes this especially maddening is that art professors around the country revel in teaching these inferior forms. You can see this in most modern animation and art. Whether it is the maddeningly unoriginal Calarts style or the flat, minimalist Alegria way of drawing, it is certain to disappoint. Art like this is entirely based on being milquetoast, inoffensive and bland.
One may ask, “How can we get good art onto campus?” and the answer is simple: demand it. Start telling people how ugly you think the hulking behemoths of steel in front of the Hub look, how you thought the one painting of lines was the work of some spray paint. More importantly, focus on the positive; look at paintings done in the romantic style — it really is a beautiful field. Look at art as something that requires people, as something that is an enhancement to life. Notice that everything is art, in a way: the growing of the grass, the changing of the leaves, the buildings. You’ll start to gain an appreciation for the world itself.
Ryan Hurley is a senior in business and president of College Republicans United.