Anthony Graves

What follows are a selection of anonymous questions asked to me by students in professional practice courses in studio art programs I taught between Fall 2019 and 2021. I have been in the practice of asking students to write down their anonymous questions, not in order to provide answers, but instead to reflect on the premises, anxieties, and desires that motivate them as young artists. Initially this was a way to conclude a semester on a good note, but it has since become a process that inaugurates each class and forms a thread throughout.

I ask students to write their questions on a piece of paper with the knowledge that I am obligated to respond as truthfully as possible, no matter the question. The papers are folded, and the questions placed into a hat. I pass the hat, and they draw at random and read the question selected. But before I answer, I first insist we discuss what the class imagines motivated the question. When we’ve sufficiently explored the motivations, I attempt to answer it as honestly as I can manage.

The questions range from issues of financial stability, power relations, and queries about the practical lives of artists and teachers, to anxieties of a racial, social, and sexual nature, to absurdist questions that have their own surprising insights to offer.

This is an ongoing practice in the classroom. I first began this exercise after seeing artist Tyler Rowland do his own version, which was based in turn on an activity led by a Jesuit teacher from his Catholic all-boys high school years. One can imagine the perverse pleasure in putting a priest on the spot—most of their questions were about sex. While this selection reflects the diversity of questions offered by students, most questions raised in the professional practice course are about sex’s closest relative—money. Here are 20 of them.

–Anthony Graves, 2022

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