The Arts, the Future, and the Creative Class

Today I had the opportunity to sit in front of several groups of junior high school students and share my enthusiasm and knowledge of the art world. This was through the Career Forum the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce organizes at BGSU every spring. Our arts panel provided a well-rounded group of arts professionals.

Even with all the chatter about the rising Creative Class in the research by Richard Florida, and cities being rated by their creativity, I  still run into cynicism. The irony to me is that the world of visual arts is constantly being amped up, both in the multitude of places it is being streamed and in the steady hunger for innovations and fresh styles. Pinterest is a great example of the hunger and personal attachment people have to images in conjunction with ideas.

Currently, the US Department of Labor Statistics shows the following samples of how visual art is trending upward:

Art Career Projections

Art Career Projections

More Info: BLS.GOV

When I was junior I was told point-blank by a very misogynist and discriminating counselor that I would never be able to go to college. Coming on the heels of having just legally emancipated myself, to begin to reconstruct the damage of having an alcoholic parent, this might have been enough to defeat me. Having won Congressional Art and PTA awards that year in painting, having the support of a great teacher, and having had a long stream of straight A’s in a gifted (GATE) program, I held my chin up and decided I would do it without his help.

Just for the record, I was accepted at every school I applied to based on my SAT and ACT scores; they all took my emancipation in stride. I was even offered a scholarship to study botany based on those scores, but I loved ART!  My portfolio got me accepted by Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI. It was a hard-earned experience, but learning to live by my own bootstrap- efforts and my own life goals were deeply gratifying.

I can’t even begin to imagine what opportunities I would have seen younger and earlier if I had had some of the knowledge I have now. I was thrilled to pass along information and a lot of  “invent the rules”, “go get ’em”, “make a trail” type of encouragement. Ultimately, I encouraged them to find ways to lead, because it forces a lot of learning and out of the box thinking.

Many of them have likely had stories of discouragement similar to my own. So I tried to give them a shot of defiance by sharing the story of Drew Brophy and how he rose above and innovated in an industry. His is another great story of success and living on your own terms that I came across through the artist Tara Reed’s “Ask Calls”.


So I retire from the day feeling happy to see so many young faces coming forward to add their voice and talents to the world! Cheers to the Creative Class!


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