When we have a national discourse about money and Art and the role of the artist in society, we are left with a massive hole of misunderstanding that cannot yet be bridged: You Cannot Quantify Art.

We might try to quantify art with opinion, “Oh, I like that.  Err, hmph, don’t like that whatsoever.”  Evaluating effectiveness doesn’t really help us determine a quantification if Art is right or not — it just reinforces what we already think we know.

We test our students on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic to quantify what they know and to determine their level of functioning, but we infantilize the Arts as being a “hobby” and “non-serious” and that sort of un-levelheaded thinking is bad for the rest of us because we see the world and view our past through the archaic totems of what we aesthetically value.

Why shouldn’t we test students on their ability to create a painting or sculpt a mound of clay or write a play?  Why are those creative abilities given lesser standing in academia — and in the mainstream workplace — than, say, writing about a sculpture or creating a computer program that can scientifically sniff out the scents of the paints used to create a Rococo Masterpiece?

We need to re-evaluate the value of the Arts in our lives to give it the greater standing it deserves.  We must to find a way to quantify talent over promise and then create pathways for talented success that means more than awards and pats on the back.

Music is math — so it is easy for even the untrained ear to determine if the melody is on pitch or if the harmony is correct or not — but it is much harder to evaluate if that tone of yellow is better than that hue of green, or if setting a scene in a Church is more effective than setting it under a bridge.

We create the ability to quantify by setting national standards, and yet the Arts in America, has no evaluative, sustainable, way to recognize talent, support it, and then celebrate and promote it based on a shared agreement based in scientific, quantitative, elements; and we cannot continue to apply unqualified opinion to the end result that crushes the covenant of the human and the sacred.


  1. It’s hard to say what quantifies art, if anything. Someone might watch an Ionesco play and say it’s unintelligible and another might call it nonsense. How would a student get graded — what if the teacher was anti-Picasso and the student made something abstract?

    1. That’s precisely the problem I’m addressing in my article, Gordon. How do we fix it? Some might argue that’s why “Pass/No Pass” was invented — but that still doesn’t address the open matter of quantification.

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