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Re: [BKARTS] MFA in Book Arts from Purchase College, SUNY

I was one of several graduate students in the first MFA class at Purchase
College. Prior to enrolling I had been a printer/artist/bookbinder/editor and
proprietor of The Tideline Press for 14 years. My undergraduate mentor was
Loyd Haberly.

Tideline was part of the bookarts revival of the 1970's and was lucky to be
well received into collections as well as competitions, earning an AIGA book
award in the early 1980's as well as numerous Type Director's Club Awards in
the 1970's, and three New York State Council on the Arts Grants, etc. Yet I
needed to continue my studies in bookarts in order to expand my understanding
and capabilities. To do so was not financially easy nor was the challenge of
submitting to the rigors of an MFA program.

The experience of being a master's student must, if successful, be a
transforming one. It may in fact be the aesthetic equivalent to rebirth. To
enter a program is to study under a chosen master or group of master artists
and implicit is the willingness to participate and trust. Of paramount
importance is the understanding of the role of positive critical analysis of
the work produced. I question if this was Mr. Hutchins intentions or goals.

At Purchase College I found acceptance mixed with questioning and challenges
interspersed with assistance from the Dean, Faculty, Staff, Administration,
Museum officials and the College President. I was put in charge of the
letterpress facilities which were equal if not superior to the facilities of
other book arts programs across the United States. I printed my oversize
(20"x 28" open page spread), 66 page, master's thesis on a large format, flat
bed, lithographic offset press that had been acquired from Ken Tyler. In
order to do so required an excellent studio facility. When I questioned why
Purchase was not participating in the Collegiate Press Conference in Colorado
Springs (1988) I was given the funds to attend and represent the College. In
short, I wanted the experience and I was not disappointed.

To join a master's program with just the idea to get a degree to teach
shortchanges the student as well as the program. But it is my understanding
that this was the questionable reasoning of Mr. Hutchins when he applied to
the program. He proved unwilling to accept the challenges of a program that
could have possibly transformed his art, being more interested in proving who
he already was. He was the tail trying to wag the dog. Naturally this has
lead to unwarranted resentment on his part.

Last year I assisted Mr. Hutchins in a proposed project that was quoted to my
employer of the time, The Stinehour Press. We got along well and he
complimented me on my assistance that seemed of value to him. At that time I
assured him that my help with projects at Stinehour would not have been even
remotely possible without my three years as a student at Purchase College.

Mr. Hutchins' recent, vituperous denouncements seem to be the product of an
ego hurt by its own inability to see the hallmarks of a quality education.

Since Mr. Hutchins short time at Purchase I have been asked to join the
adjunct faculty of the School of Art and Design at Purchase. To praise my
senior faculty members could be seen as self serving but suffice it for me to
say that I would not align myself with anyone not committed to quality
education. As an aside I have been instrumental in procuring over 750 cases
of type (mostly 19th century woodtype) for the Bookarts program. I take the
administrations support in this acquisition as proof that expanding the
facilities are a primary goal of the school.

As a professor and former student of Purchase I challenge the intentions and
motivations of his denouncement. His are the inaccurate, unsubstantiated
comments of someone who is not masterly in understanding the opportunity he
unfortunately missed.

Leonard Seastone,
The Tideline Press

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