Fine arts, as an academic discipline, is highly misunderstood and gravely undervalued by what seems to be a large portion of the academic world.
I’m writing to tell you that the commonly associated terms like “starving artist,” “bird course” and “unemployed” are so unbelievably incorrect that they border on ridiculous.
The most common response I get from people after revealing my area of study includes a self-satisfied smirk and a pretentious “so, what are you planning on doing with that?” Well, a lot of things. The people who ask me this question forget that anything and everything that involves aesthetic appeal and design has been touched by a fine arts kid somewhere in its production process. Someone was paid to design your clothes, or the pattern on your bedsheets, or the poster hanging above your bed.
That someone was likely an art or design major.
And even if we do go on just to be practicing artists, there’s still a high likelihood that successful doctors, lawyers and engineers will buy our work for obscene amounts of money. In a discussion with one of my classmates about the rigorous life of a fine arts student, she brought up the idea that, just like engineering is applied science, the bachelor of fine arts is applied arts.
I agree with her because a major aspect of my education that is overlooked by non-BFAs is the massive range and diversity of skills we acquire, not to mention the sheer amount of time we spend doing so.
In my two years as a fine arts student at Queen’s, I have learned how to use all manner of building materials and power tools, properly set up and display art or other objects, talk about art and art history, critique the world, stay in one room working with volatile chemicals for over 12 hours without food and, of course, make good art.
It’s because of these skills that fine arts as a field of study isn’t only practical, but integral to contemporary society. Olivia is the Editorial Illustrator at the Journal. She’s a second-year BFA student.
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