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Last year a scandal unfolded exposing the fraudulent paintings displayed by the Orlando Museum of Art, purporting to be originals of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The FBI is still unraveling the details, but basically a guy created artwork on wood and cardboard in the same style as 1980’s Basquiat paintings, said they were authentic, and sold them for lots of money with some help from a network of shady characters. It’s curious to me that these scammers felt their own work wasn’t worth much unless it had someone else’s name on it.

At the same time, there has been an explosion of opinions and discussion regarding artificial intelligence tools that make it easier to write and create art. When someone types in a prompt to MidJourney or ChatGPT, the result comes from a compilation of information gathered from the internet. The reaction to these tools often centers around whether it’s okay to take this AI-generated work and claim it as one’s own. This scenario offers up another sort of curiosity—is the finished product more valuable because it was not created by a single human? Yikes.

We’re obviously influenced by the art and work of others. As rising seniors work on their college essays and applications, they will seek input, but ultimately what they share—and what they assign their name to—is theirs. In fact, one of the affirmations a student must agree to before submitting the Common App states “I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including this application and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented.”

Students, boldly claim your work! It is fascinating, engaging—and uniquely you.


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