SOLSC22: Word & Art Labor

At the start of this week, I used the New York Times Student Opinion essay “What Should Be Done About the Gender Pay Gap in Sports?” to spark discussion and challenge student thinking.

In one particular class period, students were furiously opinionated about whether or not females athletes on our campus are given the same respect and clout as the male athletes. Then the art and theater students started to speak up about sports receiving all the attention and the lack of funding and prioritizing/promotion.

A student piped up to say, “I think we don’t value art because we don’t see the work they put in. Like, with football and other sports, we’re watching them put in the work and we see the prize at the end. With art and stuff like that, we just see their product, move on, and…” *shrugged shoulders*

This comment has stayed with me because I’d never considered it before. How often do I read a book and have a nearly spiritual experience? How often do I come across a poem that moves me so deeply I want to commit it to memory? How often do I copy down a quote in my Keep app only to revisit it over and over again?

I rarely think about the labor. The tears that may have fallen. The pain that may have led to that book. The beauty that may have led to that poem. The discovery that may have led to that quote. I benefit from consuming the prize at the end. But my student is right; I rarely think about the labor of someone else persisting, stitching bits and pieces together to create unfathomable works.

4 thoughts on “SOLSC22: Word & Art Labor

  1. arjeha says:

    I think somehow we are conditioned to acknowledge and respect the hard work we can see. We don’t see an author writing or an artist painting. We are what they produced and not the work out into creating that piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. glenda funk says:

    Your student’s observation is itself an argument for art education, including art history and the creative part of art. As a student who participated in drama, speech and debate, I’ve thought about these issues most of my life, perhaps in part because I attended school at a time women had few sports options and because of gender bias in my own family. You’re helping kids dig into the nuances of these issues.


  3. Anna Maria says:

    “With art and stuff like that, we just see their product, move on, and…” *shrugged shoulders*”

    As a former theater, band kid, and artist I agree with this. With athletics we see them constantly practicing and honing their talent. And of course with the way the world works the spotlight is put on the athletes. The Arts may get a passing blurb about a new artist’s gallery showcase or the local hs jazz ensemble playing at the theater. We are treated to the final product. But what we don’t see is the ensemble practicing a piece that may not come together until two days before the concert. Or all of the drafts of a painting. Or the play that was iffy as to whether it was ready to be shown before an audience just a week ago.


  4. Darin Johnston says:

    >labor of someone else persisting,<

    Being on both sides, the jock side and the arts side, I agree, you don't EVER see the time spent on the arts. The time spent for the final product, whether a song, a painting, or a poem doesn't always match up to our expectations. Your student is on to something that needs further investigation!

    Thank you for sharing this with us! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s