Artist issue / By Lew
“I introduce my ideas by saying that as a teacher I use abstract thoughts concretely in a real society with actual souls; to influence is the best expression possible of one’s philosophy.”Randy Titus
In a dumpster across from Carpenter Branch Library on South Grand, I found the life of Randy Titus….or at least…I found his artistic remains. He passed on a well loved and wise South City Artist, but sadly his death stayed a local affair. His loved ones, and art friends all came to his memorial/last art show and reflected a man who deserved his wisdom to be remembered. Hundreds of his art pieces graced the walls of the Koken Art Factory and the event became a literary story that I told. The Randy Titus Memorial
I have come to love this man, one I never met. Randy Titus is a teacher at heart and through the art, philosophy and written words, I have come to a call him that. His books I found in the dumpster, point me to his inspirations, to the basis of his intellectual drive and his art ….. speaks of his soul. I have made honest attempts to share his story in my own way but then everything changed 1.5 years later. I rediscovered his genius again in the same dumpster.
“Nothing is more perfect than a clean white stretched canvas. It’s perfect, and cannot be improved upon. But it isn’t Art. So, the first act of the painter is to push paint around on it and destroy that perfection and begin creating an image with a series of simple acts of spontaneous intent without intimidation. That practice is Art.”Randy Titus
A local dumpster diver had alerted me to the those full dumpsters the day I first discovered him with a simple phone call. The second time 1.5 years later, it was his daughter. The same Dumpster became filled once again with the remnant stuff that was once owned by Randy Titus. It was the short story and art experiments that drove me to inspiration the first time.. this time the words from him I needed were there in his Teaching Portfolio.
I discovered Randy Titus’s own philosophy written down and placed in curriculum, his grand intellectual design. The story goes like this. Randy went back to school to get a teachings certificate. His Art and Philosophy degrees were decades old, his long career in Graphic Art was successful but technology kept changing and Randy was aging. Something else drove him as well, he wanted to share his wisdom. This was his thesis, this folder in front of me.
Randy wanted to teach a particular set of skills. He wanted to teach the youth of St Louis how to become true Artists. I don’t want to tell you much more and let his words speak for themselves. He had things to say, as I suspected that day I pulled his dumpster thrown possessions from a dumpster and went into the Rabbithole. Randy Titus was a man with valuable wisdom to teach.
As society changes in rapid and fundamental ways, the philosophy of education must also drastically shift with the onslaught of technological demands. How does one spark the will of a young person towards self awareness and artistic intuitive ability? In other words… how do you make an artist?Randy Titus
How do you make an artist? Randy Titus mused over this subject with his usual highly focused attention and created a portfolio of curriculum from his perspective as a teacher-in-training. This classically trained artist who taught artists on academic levels, attempted to take his philosophical notions of reality and pour it into something useful for the K -12 school system. This is his answer!
OPENING ARTIFACT: PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION by Randy Titus
HAND, HEAD AND HEART. A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY OF ART EDUCATION FROM THE SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTIVIST POINT OF VIEW…. (SELECTIONS FROM FIVE PAGE PAPER)
Of the four major american philosophies of education we have covered, I find myself being in basically within the Social Reconstructivist viewpoint with a healthy dose of the Zen method. The main philosophies covered are in essence cut from the same cloth, that of Euro/Americanwhite males in a sense arguing about which approach is most logical in a basically rationally discernible world of choice. After studying in detail the chain of classic philosophy in college, I found that whether we perceive truth through the mind or the senses, whether the world is of our creation or the creation of a christian god, or even an impossible to parse Cartesian dream, they all play with the same basic epistemology: Logic is the effective tool for truth, and language is the basic representation of that truth in our culture. It is my belief that it is because society is chang-ing in such a rapid and fundamental way, that philosophy of education must change as dramatically.
METAPHYSICS AND EPISTOMOLOGY I found myself, after college, jolted by the influence of Asian thought, and in particular the Zen method. There is an dichotomy between eastern and western metaphysics and the means to understand the world. The west has taken discrimination as its finest tool. In the west, we canfind differences between states of affairs all day and yet be hard pressed to find similarities between states of affairs which is the eastern method of understanding the world. The west sees the world in its parts, where the east intuits the oneness of our world. Western discrimination stresses rigorous differences between things. Eastern synthesis stresses intuitive similarities. I maintain the act of teaching the creative process is one of synthesis, rather than discrimination.
AXIOLOGY: If we are to take into consideration the cultural values of our students and their heritages ,and respect the manner in which those values might cross-connect, then we should value more than just a European model to teach them. It is the unification of hand (technique), head (intellect) and heart (intent) that gives birth to creation in a spontaneous and natural way as a result of rigorous practice. The student’s confidence to be able to synthesize that spark at will and allow the process to guide the student to a rich life of expression in more areas than just ones specialty, is within the ethics I would like to convey to my students through their practice, instilling the confidence in their intuitive understanding of our world.
ATTENTION, INTENT AND SYNTHESIS: I believe that the process of intuition starts with the procedure of the student paying ATTENTION, being AWARE of the world openly flowing through us. To be AWARE, is to hone the senses ability to take in the world as it is (sketchbooks), and spit it out again as class projects that carry a new meaning unpredictable by the particulars of the world. This ability to synthesize all the information taken in and find what you need at the moment you need it is the prime value of the creative process. The combination of ATTENTION to the world around them, coupled with personal INTENT of classroom projects will produce successful artwork, and a view of the world that is personal and expressive.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: One doesn’t necessarily grind out an artist by time-tested formula, as is represented by Perennialism, but instead one prepares the mind to spark. I believe that through a system of procedures, the novice art students will begin to fire the spark at will and not have to wait for it. In the graphic design and advertising fields because of severe deadline limitations one cannot afford to wait for inspiration, one must have mental tools and procedures at hand to prompt the spark when needed, one’s livelihood depends on it.
Since my method is based on the simplicity of paying attention to the world as it is and the synthesis of those perceptions, I know that every novice, through practice, can allow themselves to create in class. But it is up to the teacher to stimulate and prompt enthusiasm with creative and constantly challenging class dialog and surprising projects that students would not expect to have given to them.
REFLECTION: I have a personal anxiety that our culture and the world’s cultures are not yet even in a basic sense philosophically prepared for the changing demands that technology will put on education, our sense of identity, ethical standards, and the revised definitions of almost everything we take for granted currently in our nascent technological world. Faced with such relativism, I am very pleased that CTCP has placed such heavy emphasis on teaching philosophical inquiry to beginning teachers.
The classic philosophies are rich in intellectual meditation, but unfortunately often for nostalgic times long past. The procedural act of personal reflection which I hope to ensnare my students will always keep the creative juices going, and the sense of efficacy fueling my students as they travel beyond my humble aesthetic musings on to their own extension of what philosophy and art substantially mean to them in 21st century society. Randy Titus