An article called “Failure Makes a Comeback,” which recently appeared in the Western Washington University student newspaper, describes an exhibition of work, at the Viking Union Gallery, by seniors at the school who have all but resigned themselves to lives of artistic failure.

The show’s title–”F’ It”–is perhaps revealing of a prevailing attitude among young artists today.  The story explains that the show, organized by Western students Heidi Norgaard and Abby Wilson, is dedicated to “abandoned, damaged, or altogether failed artwork submissions” from the school’s students.

“We wanted to do a show where an artist put their heart and soul into [a piece of artwork], and it just didn’t turn out how they planned,” Wilson said. “They just had to say fuck it”…

To emphasize this approach, the coordinators requested a written description of what went wrong with the piece with each submission. They said the effect of seeing a failed piece of art next to the story of its demise adds depth to the exhibit.

The idea was inspired by a fiber-art major, who had started countless art projects that began as exciting concepts but ended up as big disappointments. “But that’s the process you have to go through,” she said. “Ninety percent of the projects artists make are really crappy. The other 10 percent are what you see in galleries… I’m tired of being mad about having shitty art, and I decided to start being happy about the mistakes I make.”

“People put too much emphasis on grades and getting things right the first time,” Norgaard said. “If every college was open to failure, we could learn a lot more.”

One Response to “Failure Is Increasingly the Rage among Young Artists”

  1. bob schulz says:

    Actually I know of more than one person, after having attended more than one art school, scrambling to make a living doing anything completely unconnected to art. The most recent quit after five years of wasted tuition and loans. So sad as almost any other degree could have led to a career.

    How honest is it for an art school to take tuition for instruction like as not to lead nowhere? Or, for that matter, for a secondary counselor encouraging a student to follow their “heart” and “dreams” and go to art school?

    Does any culture, ours included, need 10,000 BFAs every semester? Shouldn’t disclosure of the statistical possibility of not becoming de Kooning or Warhol be part of any undergraduate program?

    Think of how many senior graduate exhibits you have wandered through, finally taking your leave muttering, “what can anyone be thinking in here?” No reply necessary.

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