I first read Claes Oldenburg’s “I am for an Art” (1961) in Katherine Smith’s “Contemporary Art and Theory.” In the text, Oldenburg suggests that he is for an art of anything and everything. “I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes out on top…I am for an art that flaps like a flag or helps blow noses, like a handkerchief,” he writes. The beautiful thing about Oldenburg’s text—which takes the form of a long list—is its potential to become infinite. The last line ends abruptly, and the reader is left wanting to add another item, to find another kind of art to embrace. At the risk of cheesiness and sentimentality, I want to offer an Oldenburg inspired litany for my Agnes Scott education:
1. I am for an Agnes that taught me not only how to make art, but also how to think about it.
2. I am for an Agnes that helped me go to graduate school and get more than a couple of jobs. (E.g. a Master’s from the University of Chicago in the Humanities, an internship at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and a current position as an instructor for The City Colleges of Chicago.)
3. I am for an Agnes that offered a safe place to make mistakes, to develop my passions, and to become competent at writing and speaking about them.
4. I am for an Agnes that has an awesome art gallery.
5. I am for an Agnes that has an art history and studio art department that works together, which is incredibly hard to find and incredibly exciting.
6. I am for an Agnes that gave me both a structured, rigorous education AND an enormous amount of creative freedom.