Obama Loves Art History but Thinks It’s (Economically) Useless

A man looks at Richard Avedon's portrait of President Obama (photo by Flickr user Mr_CRO)
A man looks at Richard Avedon’s portrait of President Obama (photo by Flickr user Mr_CRO)

Speaking on the floor of a General Electric plant just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, today, President Obama made some remarks on the state of education and employment in the US, bringing up art history degrees in the process. Politico reports:

“A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” Obama said.

“Nothing wrong with art history degree,” [sic] he added. “I love art history. I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I’m just saying, you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education, as long as you get the skills and training that you need.”

Some people, chief among them the College Art Association, have taken offense at the comments. “Humanities graduates play leading roles in corporations,” they argue. So. If you’re an art history major leading a corporation, here you go. If you’re stuck in the education bubble, here you go. Let us know what happens.

UPDATE: President Obama has written an apology to University of Texas in Austin art historian Ann Collins Johns explaining his comments.

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