What is arts true pur­pose?

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The Cen­ter for Aca­demic Study and Nat­u­ral­ist Paint­ing (CAS) has al­ways had one goal in mind, to train re­al­ist artists who will ul­ti­mately cre­ate “art that serves the pub­lic, el­e­vates so­ci­ety and reestab­lishes the stan­dards of art as a visual lan­guage that can be un­der­stood and felt beyond any bound­aries.” How is this pos­si­ble or why is it nec­es­sary with to­day’s tech­nol­ogy? What is the pur­pose of art in to­day’s so­ci­ety?

Ac­cord­ing to the CAS’ di­rec­tor, Ryan Brown, paint­ing is more alive and rel­e­vant than it’s ever been. Brown is the founder, di­rec­tor, and head in­struc­tor at the CAS in Springville.

Brown, a Utah na­tive, at­tended BYU after high school. He strug­gled to find mean­ing out of the var­i­ous move­ments and medi­ums he was ex­posed to through the univer­sity cur­ricu­lum. Overviews of the lib­eral arts and jum­bled the­ory were the core of the pro­gram, but skill based un­der­stand­ing seemed to be lack­ing.

“The teach­ers didn’t have the skills I was look­ing for,” Brown said. “They were the par­rots of poorly com­pre­hended ideas. Although they had bought into a lie, I couldn’t do it. I never had what it took to be­lieve in depth that wasn’t there.”

He re­ceived his Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts in 2002, but re­al­ized that the ed­u­ca­tion he ac­quired in col­lege was in­suf­fi­cient to support a ca­reer as an artist. Soon after this re­al­iza­tion, Brown en­tered the Florence Academy of Art, where he re­ceived his first taste of Aca­demic train­ing. The or­ga­nized, in­tense and con­cise train­ing of the Florence Academy pro­vided Ryan with what he con­sid­ers the be­gin­ning of his un­der­stand­ing of the craft of art. This train­ing not only gave Brown a deep un­der­stand­ing and love of draw­ing, but also de­vel­oped in him a strong self-dis­ci­pline and work ethic, as well as an in­sa­tiable ap­petite for learn­ing. He re­turned to Utah, ex­cited to pass on the skills he had gained in Italy.

Brown opened an art academy in Utah County after grad­u­a­tion to teach the clas­si­cal tra­di­tions of draw­ing and paint­ing to as­pir­ing artists, but re­al­ized that he, too, needed more ed­u­ca­tion. In 2007 he and his fam­ily once again moved to Italy so that he could fin­ish his ed­u­ca­tion at the Florence Academy of Art. Upon grad­u­a­tion two years later with a fuller un­der­stand­ing of skill-based art train­ing Ryan moved home once again and opened the doors to the CAS.

The CAS’ rep­u­ta­tion and stu­dent base have grown steadily ever since. It is one of only 69 acad­e­mies from around the world ap­proved by the Art Re­newal Cen­ter, an or­ga­ni­za­tion de­voted to prop­a­gat­ing ex­cel­lence in visual art. The CAS has also re­cently wel­comed two new in­struc­tors, Katie Lid­di­ard and Brock Alius, aca­dem­i­cally trained artists them­selves.

The stu­dents at the CAS re­ceive daily cri­tiques based on the foun­da­tional prin­ci­ples and skills of art passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, thus con­tin­u­ing and pro­gress­ing upon the lin­eage of knowl­edge.

Ac­cord­ing to Brown, when the Ab­stract Ex­pres­sion­ists turned their back on re­al­ity, they turned their back on hu­man­ity. Those artists be­gan cre­at­ing work that was too em­pir­i­cal for the gen­eral pub­lic to un­der­stand, and the un­der­ly­ing pur­pose of art—com­mu­ni­cat­ing—be­gan to erode.

So­ci­ety be­came fa­nat­i­cal about the new­est fads in art, but all were fleet­ing fascinations as the next new thing hit the mar­ket.

“Mod­ern art was never meant to last,” Brown said. “Most of it was merely an im­ma­ture at­tempt to get no­ticed. As a re­sult, most con­tem­po­rary art is like a mag­a­zine—very for­get­table. The one thing that will make paint­ing ob­so­lete is if we con­tinue on the road that mod­ernism set us on. Mod­ernism shunned the pub­lic that art was orig­i­nally meant for. Its whole pur­pose is to mock and shock the gen­eral pub­lic.”

Brown stands with a new move­ment of artists, re­nounc­ing “the idea that de­vel­op­ment in art re­quires de­struc­tion of bound­aries and stan­dards, point­less em­pha­sis on ‘new­ness,’ or pur­suit of the bizarre and ugly.”

“Beauty, craft and dis­ci­pline are con­stant ideals,” Brown said. “Knowl­edge-based and craft-based ideals will al­ways have a pos­i­tive use in so­ci­ety.”

“A real artist must have knowl­edge and skills to speak. Only by dis­ci­pline can an artist use art for its true pur­pose— feed­ing the peo­ple.”

To learn more about the CAS and its cur­ricu­lum, visit www.cas-utah.com and www.ryans­brow­nart.com. Prospec­tive stu­dents may also call 801-822-8802.

Ryan Brown

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