Interview about role of art in teenager life

Recently I had was interviewed by Taylor Conklin, who writes for his school newspaper, The Prep News, of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. He is putting together a story for their next edition about the role of art in a teenager's life. Here are Taylor's questions and my commments:

1. It may sound broad, but please describe the role of art in our culture, especially when pertaining to teenagers. Honestly speaking, how important is it for teenagers to establish a deep interest in fine arts?
Almost everything we see, whether its a film, tv show, piece of clothing, internet site, or box of cereal, has a creative person somehow involved in the design and execution of that thing. Art is bigger than the Museum show, the 'wine and cheese' gallery event, the 'literary' novel, or the local symphony. Art is a part of everything that we as human beings produce, and there are creative jobs in every part of the economy. Teenagers, like everyone else, already have an interest in 'the arts'. It sometimes takes just a broader understanding of what the arts encompass to recognize that interest.

2. How would you rate the value of fine arts to a teenager on a scale of one to 10, with one being worthless and 10 being crucially valuable. Why?
Oh 10, for sure. Because without the arts their would be no cultural life as we know it. A good way of thinking about it is reflected in some recent Public Service Announcements for the importance of the arts in education. What would the world be like without the arts? We would all have identical clothing, eat food out of identical boxes, live in identical homes with blank walls, have no forms of entertainment AT ALL - no music, no television, no internet, no movies. Sport teams would have identical jerseys! How could you even follow that! You begin to see how important the arts are in everyday life when you recognize how important the creative stimulation of our minds is to every aspect of our lives.

3. Although there are some teens who take a deep interest in fine arts, a majority of them hardly acknowledge and consider fine arts? Why do you think this is so?
This is a mistake on the 'fine art' world, for fostering this idea that Art is somehow an elitist area, where only experts can tell you what is valuable or not, where certain art forms are important and others not. Excuse my French, but that is a crock of something best left unsaid. Art is all around us in everything that human beings do. Cooks who present a beautiful plate of food? That is art. That great song you just downloaded? That is art. The commercial that makes you laugh every time you see it? That is art. Art is the paintings and sculptures that we expect as art, but it also is the furniture design and the architectural building design and the feature length film. Art is the story you can't put down and the rap lyric you can't get out of your head, art is the dress that makes heads turns at the prom and the t-shirt that everyone wants. Understanding that there are creative jobs in a larger arena than making paintings and sculptures gives people who have that creative 'itch' more options to express themselves.

4. In what ways can fine arts help fully form and develop a teenager? How can teens benefit from learning and experiencing fine arts?

Even though art surrounds us all the time, from the package design for a pack of gum to the graffiti tag on the side of the vacant building, the 'best' art is that that stirs something inside of us; sometimes an emotion, sometimes an idea, sometimes both. All forms of art are reflections of the culture that produced them, and looking/listening/experiencing any art form not only can give you a better understand of what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, but what it means to be those things now - or 'then' if the art is older Anything that can help a teen understand what the world is about can only be an advantage for that teen! Life is hard enough to figure out when you are also figuring out who you are, and art can give you a place to to find out both.

5. How do the majority of teens express their interest in fine arts? What things in society distract teens from seeing the legitimacy of fine arts(i.e. technology)?
Technology has changed the traditional roles of fine art, and for the better! Now, if you want others to see your work, you don't need a gallery or museum to approve of it first, anyone with an internet connection can look or listen! Technology has 'leveled' the playing field, and allows so many more people to act creatively. This will prove to be a positive thing for society in the long run; more voices can get heard, more ideas can be spread, more people can be touched by each other. Now making money in this new world can be tricky, but it always has been in the 'art' world. The truth is, if you are willing to open your mind to what art really is, you will see many more opportunities to make some sort of living out of it than you might have seen before.

Read the full article (only part of my answers were in it) here:
PrepNews.org - "Fine arts crucial in cultivating cultural growth of teens"



"Greece"new tile mural. Designed to be modular, mural can be rearranged in any sequence and any configuration. Each tile 8"x8", with hidden floating wooden backer-frame and wall cleat (included). See more work on line at



"France" new tile mural. Designed to be modular, mural can be rearranged in any sequence and any configuration. Each tile 8"x8", with hidden floating wooden backer-frame and wall cleat (included). See more work on line at


Congrats to artist selected for Belmont CTA Station Public Art Commission

Congratulations to David Csicsko, who was selected as the winner of the Public Art Commission for the Belmont CTA Station Renovation. David Csicsko's work adorned the Belmont CTA station in the past, and he is highly regarded in the community. You should be able to see his completed mosiac some time before fall 2009, when renovations of the station are complete.

A special thanks to those who were able to come out and support my proposal for this project. It was quite an honor to be a finalist for this project (as well as a finalist for the Howard Station).

Now that the selection has been made, I am free to publicly identify my proposal - a tile mural fantasy tribute to the Belmont lakefront, with embossed fish making up the lake water, embossed leaves making up the park line, hi-rise buildings composed of gears (as a tribute to both the 'city that works' and the industrial nature of the CTA itself) and blue sky composed of butterflies and gears. The mural was to be visually experienced from a distance, and a tactile surprise once up close. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to make something similar in the future. Here are 'mock ups' of my proposal (which also included 'gear' tiles on large interior columns) and details of the 12" x 12" tiles I had proposed.

Click on the images to see a larger version of the pictures.




Kingmaker II

"Kingmaker II" carved ceramic tile and mutiple glazes
designed to be arranged in any configuration or sequence. Composed of 8"x8" tiles.

ZAZZLE store