Art Schoolin’ Extravaganza!!
This week’s show is an f-ing masterpiece, miss this one at your peril.
This week we talk to in turn professors: James Elkins, Sarah Krepp (organizer of the New InSight exhibition), and Lane Relyea about the future of art education, art students, and the future of the art business among many other topics!
Mike and Richard have dueling reviews of Frank Miller’s 300!
BUT FIRST: In the expanded intro; There is a lot of talk about what Scott Speh can do with his opinion of how we do things.
As a BONUS this week we have for direct download…
Our Art School Confidential…
Meg Onli – bfa 2008, Jerome Acks – mfa 2008, Carrie Schneider – mfa 2007, Tim Ridlen – bfa 2007, and Duncan MacKenzie – mfa 2002 sit down to talk a little about why art school and how they see their futures.
Also please be sure to check out the follow video. Duncan can’t stop talking about it:
Maine College of Art
The University of Western Sydney
Goldsmiths University of London
The Royal College of Art
Glasgow School of Art
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Thinking Through art
The Renaissance Society
Lesley King Hammond
University of Southern California
Harvard Business Review
Conan the Barbarian
Black Hawk Down
California Institute of the Arts (CAL Arts)
Carnegie Mellon University
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Maryland Institute College of Art
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
San Francisco Art Institute
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
School of Visual Art
Otis College of Art and Design
Bill (William) Laing
Direct download: Bad_at_Sports_Episode_85_Art_Schoolin_Extravaganza.mp3
- Episode 834: Harold Mendez - March 22, 2023
- Episode 833: Agustina Woodgate - March 9, 2023
- Episode 832: David Sprecher & Jeff Prokash - February 22, 2023
Scott Speh look fabulous in that outfit!!!
Can someone please explain to me why there is a burning cross in that off-the-wall video on this week’s blog entry? It doesn’t seem to have a damn thing to do with anything else in the video.
okay so I have yet to check out the bonus BAS material, but I wanted to comment on the fascinating discusion between Duncan and Lane Relyea (Hell yea, Relyea!)
I remember my graduate school experience at Florida State as anarchy in comparisson to the usual undergraduate one. It was 85% lone ranger/figure it out myself, 10% interaction with other MFAs/observing your peers, and 5% interaction with professors, some who provide cheerleading duties and others who stand in as challengers (in either a constructive or destructive way, mostly the former since I made everything constructive). So I guess I am saying my experience is in keeping with what Lane describes and I have to say I wouldnt change a thing about my grad school experience except the location. But there is definitely a haves vs have nots situation in terms of certain schools providing access into the system ( a HUGE example of this being that MFA show at Art Chicago for the 12 “best” schools). I suppose this is a justifiable inequality given that I am only 30 grand and not 75 grand in debt?
The thing about the PhD in studio sounds absurd because going to grad school gave me time and space to work on my art, it had absolutley no influence on my ability to teach drawing 1 to college freshmen. How in the world could art departments that require a PhD justify placing them in ADJUNCT positions starting out teaching kids how to shade with a pencil? I am assuming the adjunct system will still be relevent. Its such a head scratcher is all Im saying.
or maybe studio professors are spoiled with the terminal MFA? I mean, other acedemic fields require a PhD to teach and newbie adjuncts in those departments start out teaching knowledge and skillsets way below the levels thay were dealing with on their doctorate. But its just that gulf between a fresmman level art class and what a graduating MFA student is SO wide nowadays its hard to imagine extending that gulf with a PhD.
How much will it cost for you to call me genius?
Amanda inflated an aside comment about “self-promotion” (which wasn’t really my point, more below) during a longer conversation about conflicts of interest and journalistic ethics, two concepts seemingly foreign to the blog generation. I actually have no problem with you guys promoting your own projects. What I said to Amanda was, whether you guys like or not, you are now journalists. Sorry, you are. Your fantastically successful project has taken a life of its own, due to many factors….increased listenernship, buzz on the street, the dearth of other art media outlets. And whether you like it or not, this means you may and will be held to higher standards. So go ahead and let us know about your projects at the opening of the show. I never said artists shouldn’t write, curate, podcast and vice-versa ….seriously, you guys (Duncan) are putting words in my mouth. Not that you necessarily do this, but I said to Amanda is that you canâ€™t review or cover your own projects on BAS. The artists-slash-curators-slash-writers we respect, like Michelle G., donâ€™t review their own shows or curate themselves into shows. Itâ€™s not about having a job on NPR or getting paid. Itâ€™s about professionalism and integrity. You are interested in these concepts, yes? BTW, I do love the show. Hug and kisses, Scott
What were these words? OK you never said we should “kill Lifson” and take his “gig” but you did tell me during the “potty mouth” podcaster days that we should stop swearing and try and get the show on NPR. We talked about it at the Penta-Gallery 400 show.
Is that what you meant?
We have become a lot more aware of the expectations that have been placed on us and if you look back over the last 85 shows you see a clear and consistent “growing” up of the show. I often wonder if it has been positive. I miss a lot of the banter and silliness (even if it has cost us more sensitive guests) but I think that the show has also become a resource and an archive. I never really expected that.
Why did it come up? Was it because Amanda has a couple of big shows (gallery 400 and Hyde Park Art Center)coming up? Shows that might be some of the best work that gets seen here all summer but there will be no one around to review them or even document their existence?
That just seems like how the cookie crumbles and there is always Time Out.
Scott Speh I’ll always love you, even if you continue to threaten me in that devil costume.
I haven’t listened to this weeks show yet. Mainly because I keep wathcing that video. He lives in Chicago! Here’s Samwell’s bio from his website.
“Samwell is something of an enigma.
He represents a cross-pollination that rouses complicated thoughts. To closed eyes, Samwell is an object of hate. To eyes open to beauty, he is a symbol of love and liberation. A gay black man sugared by a more “effeminate” nature, Samwell is also possessed of a wholehearted spiritual sensibility. Samwell is not exclusive in his invention, yet similar characters are rarely as unconflicted. Samwell is unerringly comfortable with his would-be-judged-incompatible attributes. He seeks only to inspire the more exotic of birds to love themselves and others in the process.
Samwell embodies the absurd, loving, and fun nature in all of us.
WHAT WHAT (in the butt?)”
I think, if you stick to your guns and take this show on the “bar conversation” model under which you started out, then you should feel free to cover whatever you want. Artists still get together and talk about each other’s art, don’t they? Insofar as whether or not you’ve “grown up” into journalists, that’s just hot air. This is mainly still artist-run (even if you do pick up some advertising help, as I’ve heard is in the works). And moreover, you guys are responsible for defining what’s essentially a new medium, so go ahead and define it any way you want. What does “professionalism” mean to an artist? That’s exactly why Relya says there’s not much to teach in MFA, you have to make it up yourself. First principles: despite the “booster” climate in Chicago, don’t ever let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do!
And, Scottie, that means you must stop pinching my butt. Seriously, I have a red spot.
Duncan, my friend, I would rather discuss these issues in private, after all my conversation with Amanda was in private. I wasn’t expecting to be bludgeoned with a misunderstanding of my comments on the opening of your show today….Anyway, Amanda and I were not necessarily talking about BAS or your or her upcoming shows….we were talking about other art media figures who elide the fine lines of conflict-of-interest who shall remain nameless here. Again, my comment was an aside. But let me offer up a little comment..take it or shit on it….in this medium, you sometimes review shows and offer criticism, but whenever someone criticizes you, you guys go crazy with defensiveness. What do you expect? You are putting a product out into the world and people are going to have opinions on it. Do you think I like it when you shit on my shows? No, but I’m not going to complain about it. I recognize you are conducting art criticism. But for you guys to bitch about my private constructive criticism is a bit much. And dammit, you know I like the show and any suggestions I’ve given you about BAS have been with love and admiration.
The BAS team has become honest to God personalities in the Chicago Arts scene. They are not “critics” but rather artists with beer. As artists, they need to put up or shut up. They are artists first, and should create art. Offering critiques is part of being an artist. They just do it on a more public scale than the rest. When I first started listening to the podcasts, I’d say to myself, “oh yah, well what can you do Duncan, Richard, and Amanda?”. I think it’s important for the BASers to put their art on the line too. So yah, tell us where BAS art will be! I wanna hear about it!
2) We are just busting the proverbial balls here, we didn’t mean to make you mad.
Love and kisses,
We love you and in part were just giving you a hard time. We would also like to welcome you to do a counter point for this weeks show. I’ll even meet you and record it.
I agree that after you start to publish you have to seriously consider your ethics, but this can be done with a sensse of fun, and I greatly DIASAGREE with Scott that you dare not mention yourself, your own shows, or put yourselves in shows you curate. Why? Who made these rules? Curators do that (in their own applicable terms) all the time and historically so did artists. The surrealists were PRIMARILY a group on intertwined folks, writing about each other ans themselves, putting each other and themselves into shows and so on and so forth. Expressionists, Dadaists, Impressionists, shit almost everybody up until recently when artists have been taught that evyrbody else can cross any lines and that is creative and “cutting edge” but they themselves must learn to keep their place and wait fo others to choose them, promote them etc,. With all due respect, Scott, that is bullshit. Especially in the chatty format the BAStards have, and the fact that they are practicing artists, self-mention is inevitable, enjoyable and even helps with framing their viewpoints. Yeah, it can sound a little insider-y, etc., but let it stand. I think it gives freshness in an OPEN way. As I said, all other artworld functionaries do it (curators, gallerists, critics, etc.), but most actively hide or disguise the fact. That, to my mind, is hypocrisy. The BAS form of doing “it” in the open is refreshing. But, yes, that means they must be open to you and the rest of us sometimes taking them to task for their statements too.
Keep it up you BAS folks. I intend to do liekwise. I find your approach personal an pleasing, and one of the main reasons you are listened to! Leave the fake-objective, third-person “divine” pronouncements to Artforum and October and the like.
man…i didn’t know the photo would go up..ouch
but i am sorry if this became too public, I thought it was a great issue and I wanted to talk about it. Beyond our conversation, I have had this conversation about whether we can promote our stuff a lot of times…with a lot of other people….sadly our conversation was highlighted.
I just wanted to send you a loving hug of apology…and know that I think you are awesome.
(sorry d an r. …scott’s a good pal and I don’t want to loose this)
ok BAS gang…I’m not angry and do not demand a rebuttal or counterpoint. I was surprised and little dismayed to have to defend myself today and to be pulled into some sort of debate, that really, I want no part of on a Monday morning. I certainly don’t want to come off as some hectoring schoolmarm — what I expressed to Amanda were my own personal convictions. What I deem right for myself, I know, is not right for everyone else and do not mean to imply that everyone should adhere to my rules. I will not debate this anymore in public but am happy to shoot the shit about it with anyone over shots and beers.
But hey, I love the photo…that is pretty damn funny!
I suspect Scott’s reaction this morning was that he felt like he was the recipient of some What What in the Butt!
Okay enough with the silliness what did everyone think about the scary idea that the educational system will squeeze another degree out of us. Wasn’t the MFA bad enough? Yikes!
Free passes for Art Chicago.
Spread the word.
How come there are no responses about the kick ass double review of 300? When I saw it, I didnâ€™t get any of the political undertones. I read the F.Miller graphic novel a while ago, so I canâ€™t remember how much the filmmakers stuck with Millerâ€™s version. I agree more with Mikeâ€™s review. It is definitely a manly movie. I loved it. Although I wouldnâ€™t discourage any woman from seeing it, those guys were all beef-cakes! Even the old Spartans were super cut.
I thought that both reviews were dead wrong. The movie was the lighthearted story of a physically challenged boy who overcomes adversity to acheive his dream.
Also, it seems to me like the Samwell video has some gay overtones, did anyone else get that impression?
I just listened to the Student part of the podcast on my way back from Zurich. Not bad! Some clear-sightedness belying what some peopel such as Rhona imply about “today’s youth.” Forgive my ignorance, but how did this relatively frequent BAS ribbing of Scott Speh get started?
Scott and Duncan went to the same high school, and unfortunately Duncan was the focus of many swirlies and wedgies. Now that he is all grown up and has a pulpit, it is time for payback!!!
No wait that is complete BS. I think it comes from the fact that we have gotten to know Scott since our initial interview with him, he is a nice guy, with a sense of humor and he dishes out as well as takes shit quite well. We see him regularly at art stuff around town and for awhile there talk to and about him was a motif in the program.
Mostly I think Duncan is stalking him.
We just want to say Duncan is really hot. Will he be available to lecture at our college?
Greatly enjoyed the show, especially the talks with Elkins and Reylea. Saul Ostrow at Cincinatti is trying to launch a PhD in studio practice through a consortium of art schools and colleges. I’m not fully against the notion and I think Elkins did a great job of summarizing the pro-con issues. This will certainly become a bigger issue down the road and I think Elkins is right in implying that it’ll ultimately become the ultimate degree for advanced studio work in research universities/art schools. The main practical benefit will be to put artists on equal terms with other academics. I’m not so sure it’ll mean anything when it comes to making art or teaching. Artists will do what they want and the market will still control their status.
Lane is interesting, too, in his rather unhappy overview of the “talk your way to the MFA” curricula in grad studio art programs. What a mess it is to realize, over and over, that studio skill sets are devalued in favor of learning how to talk and network, as if that’s what is best about “individuating” students as they complete their undergraduate art study. There’s an incredible contradiction in weaning students away from group skill practice toward this loner in the individual studio two or three years later and then emphasizing the social-network critical model in grad programs. How does the former become the foundation for the latter? Another issue is the low level of group discussions or crit courses in grad programs. Why be surprised? Even the glib students — the smooth talkers with artspeak courage — mostly have a very poor knowledge in art history, basic philosophy, literature, the sorts of knowledge one gets in a good liberal arts education sans studio stuff. Thus in the grad crit course they have almost nothing in the way of a common knowledge base to structure their discussions. The common practice of assigning readings to such students drawn from some obscure quarterly, often something that assumes a good amount of familiarity with art critical technical language to say nothing of broad discourses in the social sciences or psychology or linguistics, is nothing but a smokescreen enabling the discussion to go to the subjectivity-solipsistic default mode. Lane says that the new MFA student must be able to discuss his or her practice, going beyond or “away from” skill sets” and medium. But practice can’t be discussed aside from medium and skill, except in vague terms. All of my forty years in academia teaching art made it clear that students want skills and knowledge, not sequentially where the first is abandoned for the second, but simultaneously, all through their education. And let’s keep in mind that four years of undergrad study, only some of it in the studio plus two years of MFA study is in truth nothing but groundwork for being an artist, providing access to the field not full membership. Lane is right that the MFA program has no curriculum today– no canonic knowledge or skill, no genuine demonstrable preparation, no goal, no problem to solve, no nothing except, oddly, a postmodern rehash of an “old boys network” oriented to class and elitist values, the very things the rise of the public university did so much to eliminate after WWII with the G.I. Bill. Lane says that absence of a curriculum good. I say it’s bad. A Free-form, mostly uninformed, talker’s MFA is a waste of time, not worth teaching, not worth studying, not worth a degree and not worth a penny. Surely there is a way to restructure the MFA (mindful of the looming PhD) in a way that does not force its students and faculty to trivialize it as rote skill (Lane’s “fancy artist”) or to degrade it as a cocktail style finishing degree for wannabe art dandies, the more vivid “fancy artist”. So buy some fresh charcoal, kids, clean your brushes, go to the museums, draw, and read a good book. Buy a dictionary. Learn a little solitude. Art parties are for fun only. Oh, finally, Duncan is a smart artist. He should be teaching in a top grad program right now.
Art Theory and Practice
Yes, send me $50.00 and I will send you Duncan.
That guy’s reviews are hilarious. He should team up with Mike B.
I cannot understand why the important issue of PhD status for studio teaching isnt generating more discussion here. I love school. If it were free or I rich I would be a full time student for life. I am 35 years old and have been adjuncting for 2 years teaching 6 classes a semester between 2 different schools. Between under and grad school I am 55 thou in debt, My wife is a school teacher so our combined income is modest to say the least. We are just now starting our family, At this point, I cannot justify putting our family under more debt burden.
So what will I be up against down the road? I hope within the next 2 years to have landed a full time position working with both undergrad and graduate students. Three or four years beyond that when I may be up for tenure will I be underqualified? Will fresh out of the oven PhDs in studio be serious competition compared to my experience? Will I be forced to go back to school? Will there be a separate requirement for foundation studio (MFA) and advanced studio (PhD) in the same way art history and studio departments have separate termonal degrees? Will I then be forced to teach ONLY foundation courses if I do not upgrade?
I swear with each passing year, moving to NY and trying to make it as a full time artist is becoming the more sensible option!
great show by the way!
you sir are a Gentleman and a scholar.
I feel the exact same way. With the cost of education sky rocketing every year and the possibility of doing these phds as funded students looking very unlikely, I worry.
I think it will depend on how quickly the Art Schools adopt it. If you look at the postings in Canada, many of them openly refer to studio possitions as phd prefered and Elkin’s mentioned last week that Malaysia had moved to a phd manditory stance. I can only guess that many of European nations and Australia’s postings have made it manditory/strongly prefered as well.
I would guess that, yes, you will be held to the same standard as all other academics in your university. So you better start playing beat the clock and lock down the position ASAP.
But maybe I’m crazy, cynical, and chicken little-ish but… it seems weird that you would have to pay $100,000 for your MFA (based on SAIC’s current rates) then maybe another $100,000- $200,000.00 for a phd, thus enabling you to have a $40,000(optimistic) dollars a year job to start? If your really lucky? WTF? So your “buy in” puts you in more debt then you will ever get out of?
I don’t have a trust fund or parents/a suger-mommy/daddy that floats my bills.
NYC here we come.
What I want to know is, if they create a new degree, the Phd. what in the hell was the point of the MA I received while getting my MFA???
I guess with my BA (studio art major), i’m considered an “outsider” artist.
I guess, like creating art, an artists should consider intent. What is your intention? If your intent is to be a studio professor, looks like you got some schoolin’ ahead of you. If you intend to be an artist, you don’t HAVE to have a phd. Tony Fitz is a very successful artist with I think, minimal “art education” (not 100% sure on that fact tho). There are many other ways of deloping an art skill than official “Art Education”. The real trick is finding a profession that enables you to have the time to create your own art.
As far as curricular development. “Free form” learning does students an educational disservice. Student centered, or constructivist learning is different than “free form”. Any valid curriculum requires structure, goals, and assessment. Even Art.
Masters Degree: Curriculum and Instruction
Illinois State University
I finally listened to the whole thing and found it fascinating, albeit somehow depressing. I’d also like to point out that Duncan appears to be one of the clearest, most concrete thinkers/”questioners” here. Bravo.
I agree with James’ and Duncan’s misgivings, yet several additional thoughts came to my mind. One— isn’t the MFA with its “top schools” etc. already a classist enterprise, thus won’t a PhD make that worse? I am not against a studio PhD, I’m in the process of getting a “real” PhD (in the sense that it is in scholarly areas: literature, art history and lingusitics), but I still haven’t heard a reason to truly justify a studio PhD beyond “well, its coming anyway, so deal with it.” Pretty sophistic.
Furthermore, as most of you may well know, and I confront this regularly being in several “camps,” a BFA and even the MFA are in NO way taken seriously by most other fields. Yeah, we hear this beautiful fairytale of Ford (not the best company anyway) seeking MFAs, and 25 years ago IBM was supposedly courting Philosophy grads, but I’d like some specifics. I know people in business and usually they have taken people DESPITE an MFA, not BECAUSE, and then only when those applying have other immense experience and skills outside art that apply directly to the job — usually with continuing education certificates at the very least in other specific skills. Tell me the truth — can you picture an MFA with no other qualifications marching up to Dole or Nestle or wherever and asking to apply for a job — the secretary at the desk will first of all ask “in what?” — and that is never mentioned in the fairytale.
Kery James’ “fraud” statements have clearly been meant to point out that art schools exist to create jobs for art professors, not to create artists or anything else. That too needs to be considered — thus back to one of Duncan’s main (and repeated) observations that maybe schools need to teach skills (still — or perhaps once again), teach art, but also teach SOMETHING(S) that get grads jobs as well.
Such considerations would be far more useful than simply joining the paper inflation rush in a way that does NOT actually put us artists on equal footing with other disciplines. if you want that, then you can go and get a degree in a scholarly area as well as your studio one (which I feel is not truly necessary for an artist, no matter the fact that I do it for my own personal fun).
James Elkin’s mentioned that the new interest in the PhD in studio art mirrors what happened just after WWII with the growth of the MFA. Prior to that many artists teaching in colleges, universities, and art schools did not have specialized degrees and were appointed visiting artist, artist in residence or just adjuncts. It was not a good deal for artists because they had no authentic academic standing and were in fact second-class citiziens in the academy.
People can complain about the MFA being just a license for a teaching job but what’s wrong with that? Many very excellent artists teach even when they’re financially solid enough not to. Colleges and Universities that appoint MFA artists to real tenure-line positions are providing a kind of shelter to them, just as they do for scholars in obscure but vital fields. A good teaching position is nothing to scoff at. It affords artists the opportunity to work with energetic and bright students, collegiality with peers, enough “research” time to persue a serious career, and a decent salary with the important benefits. Artists need to know, however, that academia has its rules just as any other entity. In academia one is expected to be a good communicator and able to participate in useful dialogue both within and across related disciplines. There is also plenty of pressure to attain enough recognition as an artist to justify the enormous research benefits a tenure-line position usually provides. Anybody can realize that no degree on earth will guarantee success in any field. But degrees do provide access to field enabling participation within the academy and opportunity to develop one’s abilities.
I regret that many MFA programs have turned away from preparing MFA students for solid teaching positions. Somehow the fantasy developed over the past two decades that it was a mediocre ambition to want a teaching job instead of being totally at risk in the art market. That’s a silly and degrading outlook that somehow passed into the MFA programs through the celebrity visiting artists who happen to be wildly successful and therefore free from any need for a paycheck job. MFA programs should teach students how to get jood teaching jobs and help them with influential recommendations, exactly what happens in all other graduate disciplines.
If the studio PhD becomes a reality for artists the central benefit will the promise of a better situation for the teaching artists who have the degree. It won’t make them better artists, nor will it make them worse artists. It will, for a while, raise suspicion among among other teaching MFA artists. But just as the MFA gained its status as the teaching degree, so too will the PhD become the standard. And it’s a good thing to be well educated.
Meanwhile, it’s a very bad thing that artists often need to go into serious debt to attend grad school. They should look for programs that provide financial support through fellowships, assistantships, scholarships. That’s the norm in most good PhD programs. If you’re a very good artist, some MFA program will pay you to enroll and they often have the best teaching artists, too, because they, too, will be well paid.
Oh brrrruther! How moronically pompous can we get?
White Death Emeritus
Shark Practice And Theory
I too found the “What What (in the butt)” video a bit pompous.
But(t) you have to admire Samwell’s musical chops.
I don’t know Richard, considered in the context of some of the posts ‘Emeritus’ I found the video down right straightforward and remarkably free of affectation.
Le Grand Requin Blanc -Emeritus
I hope a NASCAR race comes on the TV, I prefer to edit the show while a NASCAR race plays with the sound off on the TV.
Are you fishing for NASCAR sponsorship???
HELL YES. Imagine a Bad at Sports car racing at Daytona.