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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