Thankyou, Jason, for this interesting thread.
Unbeknownst to me -- I was touting a body-caster (Isabel McIlvain) on my blog -- and now Jason has provoked me to discuss this issue here:
Overall -- I'm not as skill oriented as Jason.
I appreciate that without great skill, nothing could be made that I like -- and that without reference to skill, the notion of art becomes meaningless (or institutional) -- but I confess that over the past few years, the word 'art' has increasingly become less important to me - as I approach the position of the classic artworld outsider: "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like" --- while adding that "other than it's institutional history -- or for specific technical purposes -- there's nothing about art to know"
Maybe you could say that I prioritize results over process -- and the act of viewing over the act of making. I want a work to take me to a (good) place --- how I got there is irrelevant. (And, by the way, I have found nothing to like in George Segal, Antony Gormley, or Duane Hanson - and every body-cast that I have ever seen in person has depressed me -- as dreary, awful, creepy things that need to be swept up and thrown away)
I would also suggest that this arrangement (result over process) is what has summoned the historical work that we identify as great achievements today -- while the reverse (process over result) is what resulted in the forgettable stuff that we call hack-work. I would further suggest that even students should prioritize results -- by seeking teachers who make things that they especially enjoy -- rather than just those who are good teachers of various skills. Great skill is necessary -- but only as it serves a great vision. (which should not be called a "great idea" since it is not an abstraction that is independant of its physical presence) (but I suppose this is moving off topic -- isn't it ?)
BTW -- it's very exciting to watch Jason negotiate the conceptual rocks and shoals of contemporary art education (can you guess that I've just been river rafting?) -- and I'm very curious about his work.