I love my art degree. It has been deemed “impractical”, “narcissistic”, “cute”, or, perhaps worst of all, “unnecessary”.
I am studying Art Theory. It’s a degree that, outside the beautiful walls of art school, I often find myself explaining;
“It’s like art history and philosophy had a baby”
“It’s the study of artworks… yes like paintings, but not just those”
“No I don’t paint”
“NO I DON’T DRAW”
Things became much simpler when I began a law degree alongside it. My studies suddenly became valid to the wider world, more practical and worth my time. At law school I was looked at as an exotic bird, one of the few with my combination, the early tirade of questions was exhaustive. They largely revolved around the mystique of art school.
“What do you do in the classroom?”
“Is everyone hairy?”
“Is everyone naked?”
“Are your parents disappointed?”
We talk, no they are not (x 2), my parents are many things but not disappointed.
A different phenomenon happened at art school. I was no longer entirely part of the fold. I had to miss gallery events and open nights in favour of mooting or the plethora of readings that law school brings. It took about a month for me to work out that showing up to my art classes was not going to be enough, I had to do more.
Really, really hard.
But I just couldn’t do it.
Too many things and not enough hours in the day.
I understand this is a fundamental problem in almost every double degree. I am definitely not naïve to that, however there is a perverse dichotomy that arises when your degrees are seemingly polar opposites. In one vein the rigor and the rules of law appeal so desperately to my logical brain and yet I get no greater satisfaction from the freeing haphazard rhythm of art criticism.
As I write this I face a choice. I must choose between staying through my art degree and traipsing up the chain of academia, hoping desperately for a lecturing position, or taking the opportunity of a lifetime to finish my law degree. I cannot tell you what I will choose. I don’t think I know myself.
I was asked to write about what it means to choose an art degree. I cannot tell you. I can tell you that choosing this has enriched my way of thinking, where I will never think the same way again. Even if I choose to sit behind a desk, gazing at file after file, art theory will teach me not to despair and to find the beauty in this and in that way, there is nothing else like it.