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Re: Selling out and the "MFA Crisis"

>From Peter's posting:
"And he finds fault with other proposed solutions to the job crisis. Efforts
>to train the "artist as citizen" for work with disadvantaged communities
>may be counterproductive. "Such Pollyanna pseudo-social-work initiatives
>may only put a patronizing Band-Aid of symbolic self-empowerment on real
>(and worsening) social problems," Mr. Van Proyen writes."

As a late-life beginning artist with a (satisfying) non-arts full time job,
I agree with the general direction of Mr. Van Proyen's argument that higher
ed needs to train artisits to be self-reliant economically.  But I think he
is wrong about the role of arts training for people in living in poverty and
economically distressed communities.

A study published by the McArthur Foundation makes a strong argument for
those struggling, cash-poor community arts programs and their power to  make
meaningful changes in people's lives.  Check it out at:


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Verheyen <verheyen@philobiblon.com>
Date: Thursday, March 02, 2000 6:16 AM
Subject: Selling out and the "MFA Crisis"

>>From the Chronicle of Higher Education.
>Thursday, March 2, 2000
>A glance at the February issue of New Art Examiner: "Selling out" as a way
>to escape the M.F.A. factory
>Universities are granting more M.F.A. degrees in studio art than ever
>before, but they have fewer and fewer job openings for which those artists
>are prepared. Mark Van Proyen, a professor of art history, painting, and
>digital media at the San Francisco Art Institute, offers a sure-to-be
>controversial remedy to this "crisis in credibility."
>He suggests that art educators put aside antiquated notions about "ethical
>labor" and instead train students in the digital skills that will get them
>well-paid work. Computer expertise, and the financial stability it can
>bring, will add to an artist's repertoire, not cancel out his or her
>creativity, the author argues.
>"Just as the artists of the late Renaissance were comfortable with making
>altarpieces as well as painting soft, marketable porn for the palazzos, so
>too would artists in my proposed schema be encouraged to 'go both ways,'"
>Mr. Van Proyen writes.
>Calling for such a "massive recalibration of educational priorities" won't
>be popular, he acknowledges. But he contends that it's time for the art
>world to reject the "avant-gardist model" that still holds that artists
>must be divorced from commercial culture.
>>His article continues the magazine's steady interest in art and higher
>education. Last year, another writer described the M.F.A. as a "pyramid
>scheme," a thesis Mr. Van Proyen endorses in his article.
>Also featured in the new issue is an article about teaching fine art at a
>two-year college; and a look at the increasing theoretical and political
>sophistication of fiber-art programs.
>The magazine is available at newsstands. The article is slated to appear
>soon on the magazine's Web site, http://www.newartexaminer.org
>Philobiblon: Book Arts, Different By Design
>Hand binding, conservation, and project websites for historical agencies
>Peter D. Verheyen
>Home of the Book Arts Web, Book_Arts-L & John Vassos Bibliography
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