Thomas Bosket’s an artist and educator; he taught at Yale and Parsons and Pratt and — wait, just read a bit of his bio:

He is regarded by the New York Times as one of the world’s leading color theory experts, was filmed by PBS, awarded faculty of the year at Parsons, appeared in Allure magazine as a color commentator on the Hunger Games films and in InStyle magazine for social planning…

To call him an educator is underselling him. If you gave a rushing stream a brain, it’d think only half as fast as Thomas Bosket.

His talk at the American University of Kuwait was outstanding.

He started by projecting onto a screen a short definition of art, a quote by the American scholar Ellen Dissanayake — which read as a lot of academese: “Making important objects and activities special in circumstances of high emotional and survival investment.”

We can’t begin to understand that — it’s something a risk analyst said a board meeting. But Thomas Bosket once spoke to a park ranger, who provided the perfect analogy:

When lost in a forest during a freezing winter, statistics show that 87% of children survive and 89% of adults in that same situation are found dead. The children who survive do so because of an innate sense of play: they hide in shrubbery, climb trees, take shelter in caves, collect berries; they slowly play their way out of sure death and inch back to civilization. Adults, on the other hand, paralyze themselves thinking what even is true north? and freeze to death on a stump with their head in their hands.

The core of a great artist is that sense of play. They, kids, have it — you, as you age, lose it. You know that thing Picasso said at an exhibition of children’s paintings: “It took me 40 years to paint like them.”

Get it back.

Some other takeaways from the lecture:

  • If the most you can say is, “I love your use of red,” say nothing. Not a word out of your mouth until you tell me how you really feel.
  • Being presented with a Jackson Pollock is like bringing a cow’s heart to your grandmother. His words, not mine.
  • An artist can enjoy kanafa, make a sculpture as a tribute to its deliciousness, and end up with something that looks like a bench at Shaheed Park. The point being art isn’t about mimicking what you see; French Salon painters who harped on about proportion and anatomy ended up on a box of chocolate.
  • You might not think it, but Thomas Bosket wants you to disagree.


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