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Pre-order our book YOU ARE AN ARTIST (which includes new assignments!) here: We may be on vacation this week but that doesn't mean that The Art Assignment is! Nature permitting, we're going to try to answer some of our favorite questions submitted by you, dear viewers.

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(PBS Digital Studios intro)

Sarah: Hey everybody.

John: So, sometimes we go on vacation, but The Art Assignment NEVER goes on vacation, so today, from vacation, we are going to answer some of your questions.

Let's begin with corphee who asks "I'm not gonna ask a question, I'm just gonna throw two words out and see your response: Bob Ross."

Sarah: Genius.

John: Truly a genius, totally agree.

Sarah: Love some Bob Ross. He was so infectiously enthusiastic about painting and what he was doing, gotta love him.

John: OK Sarah, I don't know how to say this person's screen name, so we're just gonna put it up on the screen. They ask "How will the public's relationship with museums change in the next 15 years?"

Sarah: I think museums will have to exist in a certain sense as they are because their mission is clearly stated to kind of safeguard a particular collection, and I don't think there's anything quite the same as being in the same room with the art. There are some things you have to be there to experience and so I think that's what will keep museums relevant. I hope.

John: OK Sarah TripleTManatee asks, "What's one of the earliest works of art you can remember that inspired you?"

Sarah: So growing up in Birmingham Alabama, there was this one artist Lonnie Holley who went by The Sand Man who I've actually talked about in a previous video, but his work was really moving for me. I think at first, I thought "eh, what's this bunch of junk?" Cuz he uses a lot of found materials but I was really fascinated by him as a character and intrigued by him and that really stuck with me.

John: Growing up there was a show at the Orlando Museum of Art about Andy Warhol's relationship with Disney World and they had like four or five or Warhol's Mickey Mouse paintings--

Sarah: Yeah, those are like... some of his very worst work. (laughs)

John: Well I-- first off, you've hurt my feelings, secondly, I liked them, I had a poster of them,

Sarah: Good.

John: throughout high school and middle school and I loved it and I refuse to apologize for my passions. OK so a question from Mahir "Can something beautiful be considered art if it doesn't provoke thought or reflection?"

Sarah: I think something we've talked about a lot on The Art Assignment is how art can do a lot of things. Art can make you marvel at its beauty, art can make you uncomfortable, art can make you think, so I think some art's function is to make you appreciate its beauty, and personally I like art that does something more.

John: But I would say in defense of merely beautiful art that there is some value to mere beauty, like there's that great Keats line " 'beauty is truth, truth beauty,' – that is all / Ye know [on earth], and all ye need to know" I don't know if that's true.

Sarah: Eh.

John: But I like it.

Sarah: I don't

John: Trey asks "What's your response to people who say" 'I could have done that' about artists like for instance Felix Gonzalez-Torres?"

Sarah: My first answer would be you probably couldn't do it, even though it looks easy, it often is not.

John: One time I was in a galley with Sarah and we were looking at one of those like monochromatic paintings and  I was like "it's very hard to look at this and not just think that I could have done it" and Sarah turned to me and said "but you didn't do it."

Sondolene asks "Have you ever teared up looking at a piece of art?"

Sarah: Yeah, a few times it has. I mean Alfredo Jaar's work on the Rwandan genocide has made me cry. Uh, his descriptions of photos without actually showing the photos are extremely powerful.

John: Yeah, I cry a lot when a look at art, but I also cry a lot generally. Every time I go Park of the Laments at the Indianapolis Museum of Art I cry, but I also cry from uh, I don't know, like Francis Alys's video about the moving of a mountain.

Sarah: Oh yeah, that's a good one.

John: Oh boy, that got to me. Alright Sarah, Emma asks "As a young artist I often feel like I need to push boundaries and get out of the box in order to be considered merely creative, but is there some value in doing the kind of art that you like and just painting flowers because it's enjoyable?"

Sarah: Real talk here: I'm kind of afraid that's not enough. I think you do have to push yourself. Uhm if you sort of go through a lot of different styles and try a lot of different things and then land on painting flowers, I think that's fine and there can be a good and interesting way of painting flowers but to really make good art I think you do have to push yourself, you have to ask yourself questions, and I think that's just the way it is.

John: Laura asks "Do you think craftsmanship still plays a role in contemporary art and what is the difference between kind of 'arts' and 'crafts'?"

Sarah: I don't really think there's a line between art and craft. I think the definition of art has expanded to include what used to be called "craft."

John: Intensified asks one of the most interesting questions of this historical moment, "A lot of good art seems to be made by people who are not good people. To what extent can we separate the art from the artist?"

Sarah: I think it's tough. I think there are a lot of artists who are not great people and in the past you may have just not known very much about them, so more could be forgiven.

John: Yeah, exactly, like we live in a world of creators and we know the creators and so we can't fully separate the creators from creation the way that we used to be able to. And I'm not sure that's entirely a bad change: holding creators to a basic human standard is maybe not such a bad idea.

Sara asks "how do you draw faces?"

Sarah: you draw an oval and then you draw a line down the center and the middle OK? And where that middle line is, the middle horizontal line, that's where the eyes are.

John: Op!

Sarah: So it starts lower down than you think. So there's a lot of head that's uh, between (laughs)

John: Sorry, am I confusing you? I'm just trying to act out what you're saying, I think it's very interesting. There's an astonishing amount of head on the top, or on the bottom?

Sarah: New answer: Google it. (John laughs)

Thank you guys for as always asking excellent questions. 

John: Yeah, sorry that we didn't get to more of them but now we have to go back to vacating.

Sarah: So your homework this week is to do more art assignments and we'll see you with a brand new assignment next week.

John: Bye!


John: (bird tweeting) Laura asks "do you think craftsmanship--" Bird, you are too loud. Bird.

Sarah: (laughs) Bird! Go away.

John: I will shoot you, bird. There you go, I scared him!