This morning I was watching CTV’s Morning Live (Ottawa) — the best morning show since CTV canceled Canada AM… but I won’t get into that. Morning Live shared a short performance by a cover band that pays tribute to the Tragically Hip (one of Canada’s greatest bands).
I am not a fan of cover bands, simply because I prefer to support the original artists. If the original artists did not create their art, there would be no art for the cover bands to …cover. I feel the same way about impersonators. Sorry to the fans of cover bands and impersonators, I’m sure there are some fabulous Elvis performers who are spectacular. They’re just not my thing.
The thing is, if we teach students to produce art in the style of a famous artist, are we not encouraging them to become nothing more than cover artists? Mimicry has its limits, and I doubt that anyone who wants to develop artists with integrity would challenge them to become skillful impersonators. Skillful, yes. Cover artists have developed skill. Some artists have developed so much skill that they can even make you question the legitimacy of an original artwork to their own. There is also the consideration of plagiarism and copyright…
So, rather than developing skillful forgers, consider what artists must do to develop into the historical and contemporary figures we admire today. What inspired them? What challenges did they face? How did they continue to pursue their curiosity and their passion? How did they evolve?
The art we see today is simply the result of their creative processes. Let us esteem their creative processes while celebrating their art, and encourage our students to begin their own journeys too. Get to know your students; their interests, their questions, even their dislikes. Help them respond to the world around them in their own way, one that respects others while maintaining and developing their character.