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Home Is Where the Art Is

Alumni gather for a showcase of the Art & Art Education Program's past, present and future

Alumni gather for a showcase of the Art & Art Education Program’s past, present and future

By Hua-Chu Yen

The Art and Art Education Program of Teachers College hosted a gathering at Macy Art Gallery in early March to welcome alumni attending the annual National Art Education Association (NAEA) Conference held this year at the New York Hilton.

TC President Susan Furhman greeted the more than 300 attendees, saying that “it was a joy for us to have the most distinguished and the oldest art education program in the U.S.” And program director Judith Burton, Professor of Art and Art Education, expressed her pride in “the diverse routes students in Art and Art Education have taken after graduation,” noting that the program’s alumni include “schoolteachers, college professors, museum curators and other professionals in the fields of art and cultural productions.” 

The Art and Art Education program encompasses the study of the history and philosophy of art education, curriculum design, and museum education. Its focus, in all areas, is on combining education theory with art practice, with an emphasis on the power of art as a tool for storytelling and artistic creations on the one hand, and for research and problem solving on the other. 

The centerpiece of the event in March was the Art & Art Education Program Showcase 2012, a special exhibition curated by the Program’s faculty that featured drawings, photographs, sculptures, diagrams, computer displays, video projections and interactive installations that illuminated facets of program’s past, present and future.

The exhibition included:
•    A collection of images highlighting the program’s collaborations within Teachers College with the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, the Teachers College Community School, the Art Cart curriculum developed by the College’s Arts Administration program, and The Comic Book Project (created by alumnus Michael Bitz), as well as photographs reflecting its longstanding involvement with many museums in the New York area. Other images on display highlighted the program’s deep engagement with different cultures, including those of Korea, China, Japan, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Thailand, among others.
•    Photographs illustrating artistic development in children and adolescents, juxtaposed with  photo collages demonstrating TC students’ engagement with the art education process via their participation in TC’s “Student Teaching” and “INSTEP” programs.
•    A display documenting the diverse range of scholarship produced in the Art and Art Education Program, which highlighted the titles of some recent masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations.
•    A display commemorating distinguished faculty, visiting scholars, and alumni, including John Dewey, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, and Ad Reinhard. (Former faculty of more recent vintage were present, including Graeme Sullivan, who is now the Director of Penn State School of Visual Arts, and Léo-Paul Cyr, now the Associate Professor of Art and Art Education, University of Maine.) 
•    A close and personal encounter with TC’s Ziegfeld Collection of Adolescent Art. The collection, comprised of 361 drawings, paintings, prints, and collages created by young people from 32 countries, is permanently housed at the Gottesman Libraries and is supported by the Myers Foundations, which recently established the Myers Media Art Studio at TC to provide students with a space to experiment with different artforms and modes of inquiry using digital technology.  

At the alumni event in March, the Art and Art Education program also re-launched its Renee Darvin Scholarship Fund for student teachers. Darvin, the program’s longtime instructor and Student Teaching Coordinator, passed away 2010. Her husband, Jerry, and son, Michael, were on hand to show their support for the scholarship fund.

After walking through Showcase 2012, Fuhrman noted, “the exhibition is not just the representation of this program but also the model for all programs as we go forward to TC 125th anniversary.” She said she wished that all programs at the College could represent themselves in a manner “as visually stunning as this.” 

At the end of the evening, a chalkboard that had started with only the letters “TC” written in white chalk was filled with spontaneous drawings and design by alumni and children. As one alumnus Scott Howe, the associate director of UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, put it: “My experience in the Art and Art Education program made me a committed and persuasive advocate for the importance of the arts in schools and in the daily life of our communities: art is the birthright of every child and adult. I’m very proud to be part of the program’s legacy and to further it.”

Published Tuesday, May. 15, 2012