Lipka: Middle school vs. art school

Undergraduates have limited interaction with graduate students. My sole exposure to them, until recently, has been limited to TAs and occasional glimpses during meals in HGS. But since I got back from break, I have spent a lot of time at Yale’s art school — in the sculpture building, at events and even at the galleries. Maybe it was the sudden and overwhelming presence of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in my life that made me seek out some semblance of artistic integrity. I don’t really know why, but recently I’ve been overhearing many of the art students’ conversations and have picked up some gems that really made me think: do they go out of their way to be the most stereotypical art kids I’ve ever met/seen?


Boy: “I was going for a postmodern, almost meta feel, to reflect my feelings about the semester.”

He can’t be serious. Either he was really committed to the sarcasm bit, or he has no idea what “meta” means. How can a haircut be meta? Personally, I’ve never seen a haircut that can be self-referential. And how can a semester be meta? Does it reflect your life, and if so, does that mean your haircut is representative of your life? Does the transitive property really extend that far? How postmodern of him. The next exchange was even more dynamic:

Boy: “Is that leopard?”

Girl: “Yeah, it’s so soft.”

Boy: “I’m glad you’re taking a stand and wearing real fur.”

First off, is wearing leopard fur even legal? And if so, would it really be soft? Because I feel like it would be coarse. Finally, and most importantly, the boy is glad that she is taking a stand against taking a stand against wearing fur. Now that’s meta! This is the kind of thing that gives “hipsters” a bad name. Finally, here’s a powerful observation I overheard:

Boy: “Toad’s is one of those tragic places I paint and feel about; it’s an indie film waiting to happen.”

Now that’s pretty far from “partying, partying (yeah!).” I really don’t know where to begin. To place the quote in context: a group of holier-than-thou grad students were discussing undergrads and our social proclivities. As a Toad’s fan, I first took offense at his words. How dare he question the fun times and responsibility-free atmosphere of Toad’s? True, the lurkers outside are shady characters, and Saturday night is a goat-rodeo of barely-there skirts and giant chain necklaces — but that hardly qualifies as “tragic.” I then began to see the true glory of the art-schooler’s statement. He “feels” about Toads. Feels … He must have a deeper connection to the club than all of us.

Ultimately, these people are the antithesis of Ms. Black. But their comments are no better than her single’s unadorned lyricism. While “Friday” is, as one news organization called it “global, public humiliation,” it has garnered over 44 million views on YouTube and over two million downloads on iTunes. Furthermore, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she said she was donating 100 percent of the proceeds to her school and Japan relief funds. She might not be a lyrical genius, but I’ll take her genuine, albeit naïve, excitement for the weekend over a self-aware attempt at frigid apathy any day. I wonder how many of the art school students actually donated any money to Japan relief (although I would expect the fur-wearing girl to take a stand and donate to, say, Gaddafi relief).

Honestly, I don’t feel that these faux-philosophers are wholly representative of the students at the art school — or at least I hope not. But, people who really say things like this — please continue. I always enjoy a good laugh.

Carolyn Lipka is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College.


  • FreddyHoneychurch

    These overheard comments are, in fact, wholly representative of the students at the art school. Artists make art. They don’t talk about art. Certainly not well.

    It’s nice that you’ve discovered this as a freshman, Carolyn, so that you can spend the next few years trying to figure out how it is that Yale MFAs make such interesting work and yet never ever ever have anything interesting to say about it. Extend this observation to the entirety of Modern, post-modern and contemporary art. There are critics and art historians for a reason, you know!

  • jlinshi

    i see you c-lip yea girl

  • elijah

    Did Ms. Lipka just want to make another reference to “Friday” while complaining about a conversation that she heard? Go ahead and listen to whatever you want, but I really don’t see the use of pasting out-of-context snippets of conversation with your own snide remarks. This is a newspaper, not yoour tumblr.

    And frankly, after Ms. Lipka’s own perusal into the confusing metahipsterdom displayed in “Of Stereotypes and Skinny Jeans,” I don’t see how she can criticize these students’ attempts at offering a bemused reflection on modern life, however out-of-place they may seem. Although I suppose if you’re such a fan of Toad’s Place and Rebecca Black, tastefulness ceases to be a virtue.

  • penny_lane

    Genuine question: What did this intend to accomplish other than make people who talk that way feel bad? If someone printed a mocking op-ed piece about psychologists every time I made a dumb comment within earshot of other human beings, I would probably be needlessly shamed out of ever speaking again.

    Based on your last paragraph, I’m really hoping you’re trying to make a point about high-brow versus low-brow art and substance versus pretention, but if that is the case, it gets muddled by all the mocking–especially since only one of the conversation snippets you shared was actually about art.

  • wtf

    shut up freshman. no one cares about what you have to say.

  • SallyGD

    The students at the school of art are serious about their work. Please explain why a few goofy jokes among friends undermines that.

  • Srsly_MFA

    Many art students go the the Wednesday dance party at Toads. We also listen to Rebecca Black. If these behaviors conflict with your idea of artistic integrity, please clarify your standards so that we might conform to them.

  • doron

    You misquoted me. You were sitting in front of us when the fur conversation happened and i definitely did not say “I’m glad you’re taking a stand and wearing real fur”. Also, the scarf was clearly not real fur. Regardless, playing with cliches and making nonsensical comments is a lot of fun. If you want to have an insight into the MFA program maybe you should visit our studios, or come to our crits.
    And in response to the first comment- artists talk and write about art all the time, and do it very well. Its insulting to suggest that historians or critics have a deeper understanding of our practice than we do.

  • professorohyeah

    It is an artists job to play with normalized communicational structures in order to keep the world from stagnating into pure ideology. It is a shame that you seem to be performing the opposite role – casting complex people with complex histories into bland and rigid stereotypes, using the meagre clues of a few seconds of conversation. You could probably be more productive with your time if you tried hard.

  • Jaymin

    “It is an artists job to play with normalized communicational structures in order to keep the world from stagnating into pure ideology”

    What does that even mean? By interpreting communication and structures, isn’t the artist inherently working within the context of his own ideology?

    Or do you mean to say that when an artists splatters paint on a canvas, he’s challenging society’s ideology-driven notion of what art is supposed to be, because that gets really old after a while. <– I admit, that was mean and judgmental, but so little of the art scene from the 1940s on appeals to me.

  • kate

    Perhaps if you took the comments you overheard in the context of having a sense of humor you might get more out of them. And if you interacted with the work instead of lurking around judging other people you might get more out of your visits to the School of Art.

  • doron

    Actually professorohyeah’s comment made perfect sense. I assume he meant that (some) artists try to identify societal norms and power structures that are perceived as natural and expose their underlying ideology through their work. That kind of happened from Pop art on, but since you said “so little of the art scene from the 1940s on appeals to you” that is beyond your comprehension I guess.
    But see, if you have expressed your disdain for post modern / contemporary art from the very beginning none of us would have even bothered to respond because clearly you have no understanding of what we do. I’m glad we resolved this issue.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Looks like no more Pit Party invites for Carolyn …

  • graduate_student

    I’m astounded that this article was printed. It’s something that I’d expect to see on Tumblr or LiveJournal, not in the pages of the YDN.

    What are we supposed to make of some 18 or 19 year-old’s clichéd grumblings about the pretentiousness of artists, buttressed by little more than a few anecdotal remarks — the veracity of which I am quite suspicious, considering the shallowness of the piece?

    What is this, Gawker?

  • Matthew Mitcheltree

    What is this garbage?

  • Bonjour

    By judging from your title, it seems that you want more interactions between schools.
    At what time do I pick you up, princess?

  • user_name

    There is a difference between controversial journalism that sparks debate and discussion, and plain stupidity. I hope she knows better than this and is merely trying to draw attention to herself, maybe making herself notorious because she may not posses the virtues of being well known through a favorable light (internet speak: 4chan, trolling, etcetera. You go to Yale, grow up). If this is so, I ask what masochistic tendency would make her ever enjoy being driven by so much hate. The sort of focus and false sense of importance that hate brings is not a type to be proud of, trust me on this one. If she doesn’t know better then I can only wonder who gave this monkey a pen.

  • user_name

    Case in point: Glen Beck. Don’t be him.

  • user_name

    Be John Stewart or Steven Colbert. That would be a pleasant transformation. I think you have potential, Ms Lipka, but its grossly misused. Let your time at Yale change that.

  • user_name_user_name

    seems like bigotry to me.

  • user_name_user_name

    also, I disagree with the first comment in this section. Some artists speak about their work in ways others don’t. The first comment seems to suggest that art critics and art historians exist because artists do not speak well about their work. It seems to argue that we have art critics and art historians to explain art for us. It seems to argue that we should leave thinking about art to the professionals while the rest of us work.

  • jlinshi

    i still see you c-lip

  • yale_undergrad

    oh lord, this whole thing is ridiculous. Honestly, I wouldn’t judge art students based off of silly, humorous conversation snipets not intended for you to hear. damn! stop eavesdropping! and what do you mean, “stereotypical art students”? what, did you get a diverse exposure to artists in princeton, new jersey? dang. At the end of the day, artists can’t always articulate why their work is great (or terrible!). Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t, and sometimes art historians and critics are helpful in contributing to an artistic dialogue but they inevitably provide a completely different perspective being observers and not producers of art. let the work speak for itself, your criticism of these kids is probably just a reflection of your own insecurities about style and hipness.

  • Srsly_MFA

    What does C-lip mean?

  • suggest_removal

    Why is there no ‘suggest removal’ button next to the article?

  • anon12

    I have to agree that this was a pretty poor choice of article for the YDN to publish. But do you all really feel the need to keep tearing into a Freshman that you probably don’t even know? Jesus, grow up and let it alone.

  • graduate_student

    >But do you all really feel the need to keep tearing into a Freshman that you probably don’t even know?

    To be honest, I’m impressed that 95% of the comments here are directly related to the writing and are not personal attacks on its author. Unfortunately, Ms. Lipka can’t say the same for herself:

    > I wonder how many of the art school students actually donated any money to Japan relief (although I would expect the fur-wearing girl to take a stand and donate to, say, Gaddafi relief).


    I wonder how many of the art school students will go on to beat their wives, too.

  • uncommons

    that’s the scary part of writing for the news – your name is on the article, so you’re personally accountable for anything foolish that you say. it’d be nice if the comments section was the same.

    either way, probably a good lesson for a freshman writer to learn

  • jorge_julio

    absolutely terrible

  • Srsly_MFA

    It feels like an echo chamber in here. I would like either Ms. Lipka or the editors to weigh in at this point. Do they still stand behind this article? I think either a retraction or an apology would be appropriate.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    An apology?

    That would be like demanding an apology from the sender of a vile sext because the image shriveled the eyeballs of all who unwittingly looked at it.

    When you click on a YDN article you should know that you’re getting a training-bra version the news: it sort of looks like news, but underneath there’s nothing. Cool metaphor, huh?

  • user_name_user_name

    I also would like to hear from the Yale Daily News as to why they agreed to publish this article and if they are willing to retract and/or apologize for this article.

  • graduate_student

    >When you click on a YDN article you should know that you’re getting a training-bra version the news: it sort of looks like news, but underneath there’s nothing. Cool metaphor, huh?

    Actually kind of weird and somewhat creepy, Mr. Honeychurch. But I appreciate the sentiment.

  • The Anti-Yale


    Thanks for turning me on to Rebecca Black. YouTube is now up to 55 million. I’m glad that the tastelessness of American consumers has found a beneficial outlet: indirectly sending money to Japanese tsunami relief funds, thanks to Ms. Black.

    There is a justice in the world and it is ART.

    I thought your article a worthwhile parody of the emptiness of most communication.

    When I was a kid, a friend of mine’s mother had graduated from Yale Art School, her husband the Business School. (“His and Hers” Yale degrees adorned their staircase wall, long before women were admitted to Yale proper.)

    Her thesis was hung over the living room mantle: “Hansel and Gretal and the Witch” done in egg tempera (a one stranded brush technique) 5’x3′ (that’s feet, not inches): Millions and millions of brush strokes.

    Her name was Jeaniegray Schebel Johnson (later Jeaniegray Schebel Johnson Stokes Oleson : many husbands, long before Elizabeth Taylor made such a parade popular).

    Her drawings of Hamden landmarks can be found in Hamden Bicentennial publications.

    And she could not only paint beautifully, she could talk just as magnificently.

    Conversation is an Art—-which is one of the intended or unintended insights spawned by your article Ms. Lipka

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    All teenagers read Beckett and then are immediately, like, shocked to realize how inane chit chat, prattle, and bibble babble are.

    “Ubi sunt the art-school rhetors of yesteryear?,” wondered c-lip. “It’s time that the postmodernism of our grandfathers comes to an end, time that we embrace Rebecca Black as a latter-day Howard Roark!: Mean what you say, and mean it violently, though it be something between twaddle and twittle-twattle! And donate all proceeds to Japan.”

    Miss Lipka’s article might have been more relevant had she read it aloud from a scroll she’d just unraveled from her vagina, but as it stands, it’s just not meta enough.

  • 201Y1

    Get over yourselves. Nobody is going to print a retraction just because an undergrad made fun of you. Heck, I didn’t even know we HAD an art school before I read this!

  • YaleOpera

    I’m appalled at this. Is the sole purpose of this article to show that you think yourself infinitely more intelligent than the Art School graduate students? Is it to poke fun at at artist jargon and the dry sense of humor that you apparently do not understand? Perhaps the point is to discredit art students before defending your honor as a Toad’s party goer. How dare they call Toad’s “tragic”! They talk about haircuts!
    And I do hope that Carolyn isn’t sitting at home, happy at the fact she created an uproar over her article. This article is thoughtless and discriminatory, and is hardly anything that resembles news.

  • dolores

    I hope you realize that this article, if it remains on the web, scuttles any chance you will ever have in a career at journalism. Please stop.