Dismissing the Negative Perception: A Meet and Greet at ERUDIO School of Art


Abdul Aziz ‘Comi’ Turhan Kariko

On April 23rd 2014, I was invited to visit ERUDIO School of Art by my high school friend where she works as the headmaster. At first I wasn’t so sure what kind of art school it was, but when I got there I was amazed: it was actually a high school for students who want to focus studying about art. Everything the students do is art-related. The way they learn school subjects is also by accomodating art to its context. For example, they would learn maths, physics, sociology, and other subjects with art as its context. I was really amazed that they really focused themselves on art as their study. However, this kind of privilege in studying art didn’t start smoothly, at least for the students, since apparently not all of the society allow their children to focus studying about art.
Few weeks later, I was then invited to be a guest for a meet and greet session due to my other profession as a musician, particularly with my award-winning indie band Payung Teduh. That’s when I learned how difficult it was for these students to convince their parents about having art as their study. Students, parents, and some people who are interested with the school attended the meet and greet. There, we talked about the prospect of working in art or [at least] the entertainment industry. That’s when the questions kept coming from the students and the parents. Apparently, like I have mentioned before, the whole society does not yet welcome art to be the future for their children. One of the students asked me if my parents used to forbid me playing music. Fortunately for me, my parents have always supported me to play music. Even when I was still a child, they would put me on music lessons, so I could say that I was quite lucky to be able to play music. However, this is not the case for some of the students. Some of them said that they really had to convince their parents so that they could pursue their artistic passion.
They added, sometimes they would draw or paint their sketch when their parents were not around—or hide their sketches in their drawers—so that they would not get scolded by them. During the discussion, I remember that one of the students even started to get emotional and eventually cried when we talked about the issue. She mentioned how her parents who were doctors forbid her to draw, or pursue her passion in art. One of the parents, who is a school-teacher, also shared that one of her ace students suddenly did not perform well when it came to art-related assignments. Her student said how her parents (who happen to be doctors also) did not think that the art assignment important, and that the child should ignore it since the parents thought that it was a waste of their time.
To show how bad the society’s negative perception towards art, the school even put up a wall where everyone can post these negative perceptions that people have said to them. They posted how artists are seen as drunk, poor, unrealistic, and many others. Here is one picture of the wall:


What they think about Art
What they think about Art

Perhaps these negative perceptions are best portrayed by Team Detroit, with their ad campaign of College of Creative Studies (http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/team-detroit-college-for-creative-studies-ad-campaign ). They used somber faces and bright yellow captions to capture the viewers’ attention to show these negative perceptions. They show parents arguing or even scolding their children when they found out that their children have started to become passionate about art:


Later in the discussion, the others also shared their own stories, and of course, I felt really shocked when I heard them. I didn’t realize that sometimes art might become an enemy for some parents. It is really sad that even in this modern age, somehow the society still has a negative perception towards art. I then said that it’s actually possible to be successful at work while pursuing your passion of art. Tompi is one example, he is a surgeon but he also sings jazz beautifully. Some of our well-known musicians are also lawyers, engineers, teachers, and other respectable professions. I also talked about being a lecturer and a musician at the same time, allows me to share about this wonderful experience as a musician to the class—giving them a broader perspective about life possibilities—and vice-versa, about classroom talks to music enthusiasts that I meet during my gigs.

Another guest speaker, an experienced movie director, also shared his wisdom about this issue, he said that it might be wise to follow the parents’ wish while yet pursuing their passion in art, so that the students can show that they can be successful both in their—probably a normal line of work—career and their passion in art, while most importantly, winning their parents’ heart. To conclude, I hope that more people can pursue their passion in art, while at the same time also being successful in their career, so that it might diminish the society’s negative perception towards art, bit by bit.

I hope.