This blog is going to be somewhat different than my usual entries and is a reflection of my activities over the past week. In the EDA industry we think about tools and how they can be used, their value in terms of improved quality, or capabilities, ROI and many such things.
For the past week, I have been working for a non-profit organization, raising money to put some art education back into schools. Why is art important? It is about creativity, about allowing the mind to explore. What we do is part art, part science, and I am often dismayed by the ways in which the younger generation spends their time. How are they going to be able to take over making the kinds of chips, devices, or products that we do?
Editor’s Note: Since we’re speaking of art, may I be so bold as to remind you about my blog of a few months ago “Career choice – Tennis shoes or transistors” that tells the rather amazing story of a young artist who became an integrated circuit mask designer because it seemed to offer a more interesting career than that of a shoe salesman... (Click Here to see this blog)
The week started off with a road trip that could have been the start of a horror flick. We started in Portland, driving down to a small gold mining town in California – Columbia – about 140 miles east of San Francisco, a total trip of about 670 miles. We had expected to arrive to nice weather, so were dressed in shorts and T-shirts. What we encountered was rain, wind, snow, tornadoes, thunderstorms and had to retie the load on the top of the truck in 34 degree weather, but I will spare you the details.
The work we were showing was the work of Charles F. Surendorf, a highly acclaimed block print artist, whose work has been displayed in major galleries around the world, including the Smithsonian and many other prestigious venues. We had gone to Columbia because that was where he lived for the last 30 years of his life and produced a large amount of his work. His work was thus well known there, plus we were to display his depictions of the town before it was taken over by the state and turned into a state park.
Block printing is one of the oldest forms of art that is amenable to duplication. Charles Surendorf knew that too, and while he would have preferred to be working in oils or watercolors, he knew he had a family to support and thus spent a considerable amount of his time doing block prints on either wood or linoleum. With these he could produce prints in quantities large enough to sell to the tourists that passed by. So, even for an artist, economics has to be a consideration.
As I previously said, this was a fundraiser and the proceeds are to be used to teach wood block printing techniques in high-schools. Five high-schools, in the area of the fundraiser, have been selected and plans are now underway to put on a week long course in each of those schools. The students will create their own blocks and print them. The art from all of the schools will go on display and scholarships awarded to the best prints.
Almost everyone who looked at the exhibit was fascinated with the processes and marveled at the amount of skill, dedication and just plain hard work that went into each of the prints. Visitors from out of the area wanted to know how they could also participate in the events of the foundation, showing that this was not just a local phenomenon, but one that applies equally to all of the schools.
Many kids were fascinated in the process as well. Time after time we heard about how art classes are being cut back or even removed from curriculums. I have to admit that I was never very good at art when I was in school, but I did enjoy music and other crafts. I believe that these are important to a well rounded education and I know it helped my creative side.
We have to remember that without creativity we cannot create value, and without value we cease to be competitive. A lack of value makes everything we do a commodity, so please join with me in supporting the arts in any way that you can.
Brian Bailey – keeping you covered