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Art as Experience – Some Rules to Live By…

August 19, 2009

We all have rules that govern our professional practice and personal lives. Some of these rules are self-imposed and some are externally applied. Working in the arts, where personal passions and professional occupation are just about synonymous, you tend to find a conflation of those 2 seemingly disparate sets of rules. So what brought on this rule rumination? This Friday afternoon Inside/Out: Artists in the Community II participating artist Lee Walton will lead SECCA’s educator workshop for 25 Winston-Salem/Forsyth County high school educators called Art as Experience. The workshop will explore the notion of learning through process, encouraging experimentation and experience over finished product. It will also help participants to reflect on their everyday processes/interests/routines/ as fodder for artmaking. By exploring a dynamic creative process, which embraces a fluid exchange between art and life, we hope to support the 21st century learning skills so vital in today’s classroom. 

While we were discussing the workshop Lee shared with me John Cage’s “Some Rules and Hints for Students and Teachers” (Thanks Lee!!!). The “Rules,” which Lee shares with his students and will offer the teachers,encourage some of the core tenets of experience based practice. They’re also just super to keep in mind for everyday living. I’ve been thinking about these since my meeting with Lee and thought I’d share them in case anyone out there is looking for some new rules to follow…

Some Rules and Hints for Students and Teachers
By John Cage

RULE 1:         Find a place you trust and then, try trusting it for a  while

RULE 2:         GENERAL DUTIES AS A STUDENT
                         Pull everything out of your teacher
                         Pull everything out of your fellow students

RULE 3:         GENERAL DUTY AS A TEACHER
                          Pull everything out of your students.

RULE 4:         Consider everything an experiment.

RULE 5:          Be self disciplined.
                           This means finding someone smart or wise and choosing to follow them.
                           To be disciplined is to follow in a good way.
                           To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE 6:         Follow the leader. 
                          Nothing is a mistake. 
                          There is no win and no fail.
                          There is only make.

RULE 7:         The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. 
                           It is the people who do all of the work all the timev who eventually catch onto things. 
                           You can fool the fans – but not the players.

RULE 8:         Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.

RULE 9:         Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. 
                          It is lighter than you think.

RULE 10:       We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules and how do we do that? 
                           By leaving plenty of room for ‘x’ qualities.

HELPFUL HINTS:
                Always be around.  Come or go to everything.  Always go to classes.
                Read everything you can get your hands on.  
                Look at movies carefully and often.
                Save everything.  It may come in handy later.

What “Rules” would you add to Cage’s list?  Remove? Share your rules in a comment. 

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