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Art Schools - What innovative programs are not stuck in the ways of RISD, SAIC, Parsons, etc?

atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
Art school programs are pretty stuck in a conceptual approach - demanding students create academic art with highly intellectualized meaning (conceptual) and preferring performance art, installation art, and other 1960's derivatives to strong painting, drawing, sculpting, or digital arts. (And, by strong, I mean both traditionally figurative as well as attracts like the Abstract Expressionists and others who loved fundamentally great visuals.)

As a professional in the ad biz married to a fine artist, these programs are out of date. They are, for example, quite weak at application of digital arts. And most art that sells is still traditional 2D and 3D art. And a commercial career? Art school conceptualism may ruin your potential for a career as an art director.

Reading on these boards this over-emphasis on conceptual is found everywhere - at RISD, SAIC, Parsons, etc. (It's even here in Oregon at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts where students are forced to do such things as concept based knitting work that's really ugly.)

So I'm looking for ideas for my son's future... Where are the schools who see art and art education differently from how badly entrenched many of the so-called "top" schools are?

Replies to: Art Schools - What innovative programs are not stuck in the ways of RISD, SAIC, Parsons, etc?

  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    I thought MICA had an interesting approach in that they were much more flexible than RISD in what your major was/how open it seemed to be and their argument was that's really how artists function in the professional world and as creators (ie they switch between all sorts of mediums throughout their lives).

    My daughter really liked the school - the campus, programs, facilities, larger community etc. She was applying during the time that there were riots in Baltimore and we were signed up for all their social media and I was impressed with how the school communicated with parents (via their FB page etc) and also how the students and faculty engaged with the larger community during the height of the tensions and how they continued to engage afterwards.

    Daughter was accepted to MICA, but RISD and Syracuse gave her bigger merit and aid packages so they got bumped down our list.

    Another school that might be a good fit is also RIT. We visited early on in the process and she chose not to apply (although her portfolio was accepted as a sophomore! darn kid way to diss any potential aid $!!) since they didn't seem that strong in her major Illustration & she wasn't keen on location etc. BUT as a tech school their animation, film, gaming etc seems top notch. I know several graduates in the gaming industry and the school seems much more 'job' and industry focused than a typical art school.

    Hope this helps!
  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    I've heard good things about RIT. Haven't checked into MICA much yet - but will on your recommendation.

    He withdrew recently from a school which claimed to be about all the good things... But turned out very narrow minded in rewarding performance art and installation art and not really having any way to value digital arts.

  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    @atlascentaur I added more to my answer above on the other thread re Syracuse University too.
  • woodwindswoodwinds Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    You are probably familiar with the ateliers which teach the "classical realist" approach to drawing, painting and sculpture. My daughter studied at one in Florence and is doing very well as a professional painter. She does not have problems selling her work to make a living. There are ateliers everywhere in the USA now.
  • pinkmomagainpinkmomagain Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    ArtAngst, where did your daughter end up studying illustration?
  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    Appreciate the note. I've been looking at them a bit. Don't think realism is my son's genre so looking for other varieties. We're looking for a place the truly honors exploration.

    He's a musician, loves true performance (not performance art which is pretty dull), loves photography, film & video, sound (not stale art school "sound design" which generally creates really dull work)...

    The odd art school truth is that while he loves passionate things, s much of the art school work is so academically controlled to remove all the passion. Guess passion (which is something people respond well to) isn't allowed within hallowed academic halls...
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    @pinkmomagain My daughter is a freshman at RISD. Feel free to DM me if you have questions. We also toured several other art schools along the East Coast and she's got some friends in various programs as freshman too.
  • ArtAngstArtAngst Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    @atlascentaur I totally hear where you're coming from on this (& just got back and visited my daughter for the weekend and had much the same convos re being an artist vs art school). Also we joked that David Byrne dropped out of both RISD and MICA and his life turned out ok! ;)
  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    My son enjoys going through the list of SAIC's big list of grads... Georgia O'Keefe - 1 year then off to NYC. Claus Oldenburg...took a few classes... Disney - took a couple night classes. Then they invite them back and bestow big honors after they've succeeded? Pretty funny... :-)

    In my exploration, what I'm beginning to decide is:

    - Art school's value is the societal value of the degree plus a time living amongst other art folk.
    - Art school's big lie is that they'll do teaching that grows your abilities.
    - Artists succeed because they are constantly looking around, taking in new ideas...but essentially teaching themselves how THEY individually can best create art.

    It's about expectations. And being in school gives them contact with ideas. But sounds like art schools are quite often "schools about art" not "schools where you learn to create art".

    I'll PM you a few questions (thanks for the offer!). Still exploring the topic - gathering info to help my son decide which steps he takes. Truth is that all of our successful artist friends point to a local community college here as having an outstanding set of instruction around art - taught by excellent artists in the community. Kind of all mucked up.
  • boston01boston01 Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Atlascentaur, this is so interesting. As a non-artist, I too am very confused about this over-emphasis on Concept.
    My daughter in high school is interested in fine art/classical so I'm following this thread to learn and wish I had more to offer to the discussion.

    Gnomon School in Hollywood, CA
    Lesley AIB in Cambridge, MA
    Mass College of Art
    Programs in London, England.
  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    You might enjoy this article which sums up the very serious challenge and contradiction of art school and university style educations... it's a bit of a thick read - but I think it nails things quite accurately.

  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,824 Senior Member
    atlascentaur--Have you looked at Ringling? It is NOT stuck in a conceptual approach.

    It's motto is "destroying the myth of the starving artist".
    That does not mean becoming "commercial". It means making you the best artist you can be.
    It creates consistently successful graduates.

    The most successful graduates are those who take training to heart.

  • atlascentauratlascentaur Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    I haven't checked them out. Based on your recommendation I'm beginning to... Thanks...
  • pooperunionpooperunion Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I'm going to be a freshman at Cooper Union this year. And it is DEFINITELY a concept based program, but I would like to think that it is a much more practical one than some other schools. The curriculum is very multidisciplinary and teaches you more than just conceptual knitting.
  • UgimomUgimom Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    New to this thread and very interested in what you all have to say. S is going into senior year at an Arts boarding high school, and has a great foundation in Fine Art. He is interested in Illustration, EntertainmentArt, Concept Art and Storyboarding. We have just completed the whole round of tours this summer - SFAI, CCA, Cal Arts, LCAD, Art Center, MICA, RISD, Gnomon, plus a college fair at CalArts. Based on everything we have seen and heard, along with preliminary portfolio reviews - it looks like he has settled on applying to LCAD, Art Center, RISD and MICA. We will qualify for need-based aid, and he's been told he will probably get some merit-based aid as well. He really liked MICA, I really liked LCAD. Does anyone have any opinions, tips, experiences hat helped them decide? We would appreciate your input.
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