I came away from the “Situation: Art School” feeling uncomfortable. The event was billed as a symposium in which “notable artist-educators [would] discuss the values that inform the higher education of artists in today’s challenging global environment.” The first panel was to answer, “what are we preparing art students for?” Instead the speakers waxed poetic about their careers and projected conceptions of themselves as progressive educators. Saul Ostrow, famous for too many accomplishments, put an awkward stop to that, interjecting that they still hadn’t answered the question. I didn’t get the sense that they were doing anything particularly risky, daring, or experimental in their institutions, but actually were keeping to the art school education formula.
The second panel was tasked with answering, “what is the role of an art school in a market driven art world?” Nayland Blake stated with conviction, “If you really believe that the market controls the art world, either grab the wheel or stop buying them gas.” He provided examples of alternative success. However, an audience member brought the symposium back to the fiscal realities of being an arts student and the need to make a living. Although the speakers attempted to get to the heart of the query, I left with more questions than answers and still feel very unsettled.