Introduction to the Visual Arts

Art & (my) Life

small banner for LBSU COTA SOA Art 110, Spring 2019


I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.

— John Cage

Art & Life

In art, we often speak of “Art and Life.”


Art has many relationships to life. Sometimes art stands a bit away to give a perspective on life. A sublime installation like the Rothko Chapel doesn’t directly say anything about your lame-ass boyfriend or your dead end job. But the subtle, and for many people, spiritual, experience of a place like the Rothko Chapel can offer a perspective on things. It doesn’t erase the stress of the day, but it might help us avoid getting too indulgent about the issues in our lives.

Lived Experience

Other times a piece of art might be uncanny in the way it shares the experiences of our lives. Like a great song by Adele, or Beyonce.

Art & (your) Life

Most of us in Art 110 are going off to a life, not in art. Or not “officially” in art anyway. You’ll pursue Nursing, Business Marketing, Marine Biology, Engineering, and many other majors. (and yes, there are a few Film, Fashion, Theatre, Dance & Design majors in the class) Art won’t be your career, but I do hope that you’ll live your life artfully.

Experiencing Art

I hope that art will be a part of your life. You might do something formal like go to an art museum or gallery. Or just think about the nature of the music you like to listen to. Or consider the Street Art you pass in your day.

Living Art

You don’t need to do giant art projects. You don’t need to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on an epic wedding. But you might think about the small moments of artful thought you can add to your day.

Practicing Art

I hope that as you go off to your “non-art” careers, that art, or creative, or different thinking can be a part of what you do. For me, art is a lot about looking at things from different perspectives. We might not think of Accounting as an especially artistic career, but if, as an accountant, you can turn a massive financial spreadsheet upside down, if you can look at your team’s data in ways no one ever has before, that creative look at accounting might lead to cost savings, or more efficient production, or better understanding customer needs. Your work probably won’t end up in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but your creativity just might change your business. Or save it.

Final Paper

For your final paper, I’d like you to think through all the different art experiences you’ve had this semester. All the things you’ve made. All the SOA Artists you’ve met. Can you put all of that together to say something about what you’ve learned this semester? What is your experience of art? How has your understanding of art evolved this semester? Now think about art. Creativity. Design thinking. And you. Your major. Your life. Your career. Can you think of ways that creativity, aesthetics, expression, observation, can apply to your work building bridges, or marketing products, or studying the natural world, or managing hotels, or caring for patients? Plan on a paper of at least 2 pages. Start your paper with an outline organizing the structure of the ideas you want to present. Then go ahead an explore your story. Art & (my) Life.

CSULB Dance Majors exploring movement possibilities in the School of Art's Art Gallery Courtyard
CSULB Dance Majors Antonella Redekosky, Kathryn Giometti, Makenna LaFortune, Nathan Moreno & Toria Painter exploring movement possibilities in the School of Art’s Art Gallery Courtyard


Comments? Questions? What great art did you see, make, or experience today?

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