Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Crisis of Fine Arts Education

In these days of budget cuts and limited resources, it’s often the case that fine arts classes are the first to be cut. This is unfortunate, since a well-rounded education must include the arts. Studying the arts, whether in the academic study of art appreciation, or learning how to actually do art, is crucial to teach young people how to think creatively and independently. Some studies have shown that students that participate in a strong art education program demonstrate higher performance in other academic areas. Expert conjecture this is due to the fact that when people do art, they exercise the right hemisphere of the brain, where higher reasoning functioning occurs.

Art education is an area of learning based upon the visual, tangible arts, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and design in jewelry, pottery, weaving, and fabrics. These days, it includes photography, video, film, design, and computer art.

The first art schools were mentioned by Plato in 400 B.C. Art was taught in Europe through the Method system for centuries. Artists, like most guilds, took on apprentices who learned their trade. During the Renaissance, more formal training took place in art studios. Design was emphasized more than the fine arts, so schools of design were founded throughout Europe during the 18th century. In modern times, art education takes place across the generations in community-based institutions and organizations like museums, local arts agencies, recreation centers, places of worship, social service agencies, prisons, and schools.

There are thousands of art education curricular models, or ways to teach art appreciation and how to do art. Some experts insist that drawing is the basis of all Western art education, at least since the Renaissance. Once you teach someone how to draw, they say, you can teach them all other forms of art because drawing is an empirical activity that involves seeing, interpreting, and discovering the appropriate marks to reproduce an observed phenomena.

Many state that an important part of a well-rounded education is at least a basic understanding of art history, including the numerous movements in art throughout the ages. A good understanding of art history, however, includes more than memorizing artists, their works, and when they were created. It involves an understanding of the trends in the art world. Even artists should have a good comprehension of the history of art, if they are to find out how they wish to express themselves to the world.

A good artist needs both an in-depth education in the history and appreciation of art and lots of studio time. Most art schools devote thirty percent of their coursework to academic fields of study, like art appreciation and art history. How can you develop your artistic vision if you don’t know what’s gone before?

It has been said, “We stand on the shoulders of giants.” This is especially true in the art world. You need to be able to answer when someone asks who your influences are. What does it mean to be a post-modern painter, for example? Or an abstract impressionist? Only a well-rounded education in the arts will help you answer those questions, and how they apply to you and your work.

Peter Dranitsin is a self taught and self representing abstract artist. He grew up in the family where his mother a professional artist and his father a professional photographer.

The Relevance of Arts to Practical Living

INTRODUCTION
For the avoidance of doubt, the concept of the arts can be viewed from two perspectives. On the one hand, the arts could be understood to mean the subjects one can study at school or university which are not scientific, which do not employ scientific methods. Subjects such as history, languages, religion, literature, and so on, would be appropriate examples. On the other hand, it could be interpreted to encompass a wide range of creative activities bordering on the skillful and imaginative expression of ideas, feelings, actions or events. Music, literature, theatre, and art (in the sense of painting, drawing, sculpture, etc) are what make up the arts in this sense. For the purpose of this discussion, however, our focus is on the second understanding of arts as proffered above.

The arts can then be classified into literary arts (poetry, prose, and drama), performing arts (music, dance, theatre) and visual arts (encapsulating the entire creative activities covered in the field of fine and applied arts: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, textile, etc).

WHY THE QUESTION OF RELEVANCE?
In developed economies of the world where the basic necessities of life seem to have been met, the question as to whether the arts are relevant or not to practical living is no longer an issue. Thousands of American citizens would troop down to the auditorium in Bard College to hear Chinua Achebe’s reading of his Things Fall Apart, not minding that they have heard the same reading over and over again, not minding that the book is over fifty years old; the same way the English audience would cluster at The Royal Theatre in London to watch the presentation of Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero or any of the plays of Shakespeare, not minding that Shakespeare wrote centuries ago. In the same vein, even though Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are long dead and gone, Italians would pay their very last lira to watch an exhibition of their paintings.

In our own context, economic hardship and the search for basic necessities of life have meant that only a few have had the time to appreciate the arts for what they are worth. In other words, the problem is not whether the arts are relevant or not, for it is not in doubt that the arts are relevant to practical living as much as any profession, or even more so. The real problem lies in the fact that people are too hungry or too busy to see the real worth of the arts. A man who lives on a monthly salary of paltry ten thousand naira, with seven mouths to feed, and so many other family problems to solve may not easily pay five hundred naira just to watch a drama presentation; a Nigerian graduate who has walked the streets of Abuja, Lagos, or Port Harcourt in search of a job for three years without success would know what to do with money rather than spend it on a piece of landscape paintings; likewise, a young man who has had nothing to eat for days, and has no hope of where the next meal is coming from, would not possibly be coordinated enough to read, not to talk of appreciating, works of poetry. If arts cannot satisfy hunger or thirst, can they still be said to be relevant?

THE RELEVANCE OF THE ARTS
The word ‘relevance’ presupposes usefulness and value. So the right questions should be: are the arts useful in any way? And our answer: yes, they are. Do they have value? Our answer again: yes, they do. If the arts have use and value, and those are the things that relevance implies, then we can say that the arts are relevant. That conclusion raises another vital question: in what ways are the arts relevant? The relevance of arts can be found in the following areas.

Entertainment/Relaxation: The various forms of the arts mentioned above provide one form of entertainment, amusement and relaxation or the other. In Biblical times, when the spirit of God deserted King Saul and he was tormented by evil spirits, David was employed to play his harp. The sound of music produced by David’s harp kept Saul’s mind at peace, for whenever David was not around to play his harp, the evil spirits came back. In ancient Mali too, court poets/historians called Griots were known to entertain the audience during national festivals by reciting long narrative poems recounting the heroic achievements of their forebears. At a time in history, court jesters were employed to entertain the king or the queen and their visitors by telling funny stories and jokes (as can be seen in most of Shakespeare’s plays). In traditional African societies, moonlight tales were a veritable source of both entertainment and relaxation for both old and young. Praise singers and dance groups entertained the crowd during communal ceremonies.

In modern times, in the not too distant past, the late Sani Abacha was alleged to have employed the famous comedian, Chief Zebrudaya, to provide entertainment for him and his cohorts through his funny jokes and stories. It was also reported that the former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo, is a great patron of stand-up comedy. Besides, at least one out of every three people in the world today find peace of mind in music; one out of every four Nigerians relax at home at the close of work to watch a home video; and one out of every five relax in bed with a literature book. Since the advent of stand-up comedy in Nigeria, even though hardship has continued unabated, a lot of Nigerians have begun to look at the lighter side of things. Mere listening to a single volume of ‘Nite of A Thousand Laughs’ would drive away sorrow in people’s hearts. Since these developments began, I bet that had the medical practitioners started taking stock, they would have discovered that high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions have reduced by more than half over the past decade.

Financial Value: The arts are equally a very lucrative venture for serious-minded artists. All arts practitioners who are worth their salt make a living out of their practice. So many examples of such people could be found around us. The famous Osuofia (Nkem Owoh) is a living example. The majority of the practitioners in the movie industry today were not even originally artists. Their professions could not provide for them, and so they switched over to the arts. Besides, works of art, especially paintings, are considered very highly valuable intellectual property that can be accepted as collateral the same way that gold or diamond or buildings would be accepted.

Review of the Best Art Schools in South Carolina

In the heart of the American Southeast, South Carolina boasts expansive beaches, charming towns and the historic city of Charleston, home to the large Gibbs Museum of Art. Charleston hosts the annual MOJA Festival celebrating African American and Caribbean arts, music and culture, an event representative of the diverse cultural influences that have shaped the arts in South Carolina.

Just outside of Charleston is Middleton Place, the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. Columbia, SC’s largest city is home to the Columbia Museum of Art and boasts an expanding art and theater scene in its revitalizing downtown. Other South Carolina landmarks include the Spartanburg Art Museum, and Brookgreen Gardens, in Murrells Inlet South Carolina, a national historical landmark with the world’s most significant collection of figurative sculpture by American artists in an outdoor setting.

SC is home to noted art & design schools such as Winthrop University (est. 1886) accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Council for Interior Design, and the University of South Carolina-College of Visual and Performing Arts (est. 1801), accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art And Design (NASD).

A number of liberal arts colleges and universities in South Carolina offer programs for students interested in pursuing studies in the fine arts, graphic design and related fields. The College of Charleston, for example, was founded in 1770 and is the 13th oldest college in the U.S. The school is located near the Gibbes Museum of Art and offers majors in Arts Management, Art History, Music and Studio Art.

The Visual Arts Program at South Carolina State University offers a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art with concentrations in Ceramics/Sculpture, Digital Media, and Printmaking as well as a Bachelor of Science degree program in Art Education for individuals wishing to teach art.

The largest SC Universities include the University of South Carolina-Columbia with a total enrollment of over 27,000 and Clemson University, located in Clemson South Carolina and enrolling over 17,000 students. Both schools offer degree programs for students interested in a career in fine art or commercial art and design.

Winthrop University, in Rock Hill South Carolina, offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Ceramics, Jewelry/Metals, Painting, Photography (both commercial and fine art), Printmaking, Sculpture and Visual Communication Design (in illustration or graphics). The emphasis is on combining creativity and community and preparing students for the technical, aesthetic and intellectual challenges of understanding the changing global environment, and preparing for careers working creatively in the arts in their communities.

Coastal Carolina University is a small school located in Conway South Carolina, near the lovely oceanfront community of Myrtle Beach and owns it’s own 1,000 acre barrier island on the Atlantic coast. The school offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Studio Art and Graphic Design with coursework in ceramics, painting, photography, printmaking, art education and art history. The program allows students to explore many media before choosing a focus and producing a body of original work exhibited in the university’s Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery.

Most liberal arts schools teaching art and design provide a grounding in art history, design theory, media and technique, as well as computer technology. Students develop portfolios with samples of their completed projects to present to potential employers, graduate schools or galleries if they decide to pursue careers as independent artists or artisans.

There is a significant demand for creative people in all industries in SC. Artists and designers can find employment in corporations creating advertisements, brochures, logos and packaging and product designs. They can work in agencies, design firms, film and media companies and publishers, as well as museums, and galleries.

Reviewing Minnesota’s Best Art Colleges

Minnesota is a large and beautiful state with a reputation for personality and creativity. From Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Woebegone to the work of Minnesota state natives F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Judy Garland and Charles Schultz, the state has long contributed to the arts in the America. Opportunities for creative work in Minnesota are growing, whether you are interested in becoming an interior designer, museum curator, advertising art director or fine artist.

From its famous 10,000 Lakes to its major urban and business center in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, Minneapolis provides creative inspiration. Minneapolis boasts the 11-day long Minneapolis Fringe Festival, the largest non-juried performing and visual arts festival in the nation. The state also houses museums, galleries and design firms. Minnesota offers a variety of settings and institutions for individuals committed to pursing studies in arts-related careers.

Minnesota has four art schools accredited by the National Association of Schools for Art and Design (NASAD) including two small specialized design schools: the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, with some 703 enrolled students (est. 1886), and the College of Visual Arts (est. 1948) with an enrollment of 200. Minnesota State University in Mankato and Minnesota State University in Moorhead both offer Departments of Art with programs accredited by NASAD as well as by the Council for Interior Design. Minnesota State and the Minnesota College of Art and Design also offer distance learning options through their online programs.

Minnesota College of Art and Design (MCAD) is located in Minneapolis, in a neighborhood adjacent to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts-the Twin Cities pre-eminent art museum, housed in a neo-classical landmark building designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1915. The College offers a range of degrees. The Bachelor of Fine Arts program allows students to choose from 13 different majors in fine art, design and media. Some the school’s more unusual majors include Furniture Design, Comic Art and a major called Print Paper Book. The BFA program offers a balance of two-thirds studio classes and one-third liberal arts, providing a strong pre-professional focus.

The Minnesota College of Art and Design also offers a Bachelor of Science degree that centers on bridging the gap between business executives and creative staff. This program is recommended for students who are both visual and verbal and who are interested in applying their analytical and entrepreneurial skills to working in arts-related fields. Students participate in internships in art agencies, design firms and web development companies. The school’s Masters of Fine Arts in visual studies follows a mentor-based approach combining studio work with seminars and inter-disciplinary experience.

Minnesota State offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees offering studio specializations in ceramics, drawing, fibers, graphic design, painting, photography printmaking and sculpture. Minnesota State offers an alternative for students looking to study art in the context of a large university with a range of educational resources.

Minnesota State Mankato enrolls 14,500 students on its 303 acre campus located 85 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Similarly, the University Of Minnesota Department Of Art in Minneapolis offers a Bachelor of Arts Program encompassing training in studio arts as well as history of art and art criticism. The school’s selective Bachelors in Fine Arts program is available for students applying at the end of their sophomore year and looking to prepare for a specialized art career or graduate study.

Other liberal arts schools in Minnesota offer bachelor’s degrees in art including St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, where students can choose in emphasis in graphic design, 3-d media, or integrated media. Independent Arts institutes, such as the College of Visual Arts, focus on individualized learning an art-making community and boast an integrated curriculum focused on preparing students to become professional artists.