Thunder-Sky Inc.'s current exhibition Hard Knocks: Art Without Art School features the work of 30 artists who, as the gallery explains, "could not go, did not go, chose not to go to, and/or dropped out of art school." Nearly 120 works are presented densely in a salon style installation that overwhelms the mind. It is a crowd, nay, a mob of artworks spanning all kinds of backgrounds and relationships to the art world, connected by the participants opting out of formal art education
. Responses to the show have been ardent — in some cases ardently critical. This Friday, exhibition organizers and participants are publicly joining the conversation with an evening artists’ talk at the gallery from 6-8 p.m. Good questions to ask include: What all is meant by “art school”? Is there such a thing as an "outsider artist" anymore? How does this work function apart from a narrative of victimhood that is often attached to work by untrained artists? The debate is healthy, and I have hopes that the contemporary myth of artists working outside the mainstream can be put to rest.
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