Dear President Obama [regarding your recent commentary on the study of art history],

Dear President Obama,

May I respectfully remind you of the following characteristics of educated art historians?

Art history = history with pictures. 21st century = pictures prevail over words.

Art history = history of economic models of people who produce products that are bought and sold at market.

Art history = history of commodification of intellectual property (conceptual art market).

Art history = History of the world

Art history = History of development of people in society who have learned a craft, a trade, a vocation = history of vocational students who developed their trade in wide variety of economic and social contexts

Art history = Knowledge of and if you choose–training and practice in vocational/technical skills to make things, ideas, systems, multimedia, computer programs, or an example of the creative potential of human beings. 

Art historians don’t sit on their tuchus wondering what to do while the “full-time job” as we know it crashes and burns around us. Art historians are creative verbal and visual communicators with business acumen, knowledge of cultures around the world, able to situate contemporary events in a historical context, and required to learn a foreign language. You can’t get more nimble, international, business savvy preparation for the ever-changing-at-top-speed societies and economies of the 21st century, where everyone looks at pictures all day more than words, has an advantage if they know a foreign language and an understanding of how we arrived at the world we live and work in today. Those of us with an education through the lens of art history value and celebrate humanity and what we are capable of creating. We understand ingenuity, creativity, innovation inside and out. It is part of our core being. 

Meanwhile too many non-art-historians spend their careers hungry for an understanding of all of the above while selling their souls to the highest bidder and wondering why they feel so empty and uninspired.

I may only have my two cents to share in this [void of soap] box online, but my understanding of and ability to find fulfillment in life and to keep up with perpetual economic changes in our 21st century international societies is priceless.

May we one day share peace and prosperity across cultures and classes and nations and professions.

With absolute sincerity,

Linda K. Pilgrim (M.A., art history)


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I tend to watch wheels go round and around.