College Art Association Annual Conference Feb. 22-25, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
In this panel discussants will consider the ways that fine artists and art historians, working in higher education, are laborers. Such a panel is timely because, as has been frequently noted in the academic press, colleges and universities are relying evermore on adjunct, temporary, and graduate student positions to fulfill teaching needs. Presenters will address questions such as: Is the recognition of creative expression as equivalent to academic research and scholarship being eroded by administrators? Are administrators increasingly less inclined to regard visual artists and art historians as essential contributors in a liberal arts curriculum? Are administrators increasingly more prone to
consider the visual arts and its practitioners as expendable extras? Are there indications that the arts are regarded as less rigorous than text-based areas of inquiry and therefore little more than campus decoration and academic dilettantism? Is the current economic climate encouraging administrators to increasingly disempower artists and art historians? Simultaneously, are studio artists feeling increasing pressure to commercialize their work at the behest of administrative agendas? And are art historians feeling increasing pressure
to produce apologetics for the aesthetic dictates of donors? Anecdotal reports indicate that the answers to these questions are yes.
Instances can be cited of recent abuses of visual arts professionals in higher education. For example, faculty with titles other than Professor, such as Artist in Residence, have found their roles usurped by administrative agendas. Studio artists have found themselves to design course curricula that meet publicity needs of their institutions at the expense of intellectual rigor. Arts academies have violated their charters by relying too heavily on adjunct labor. Graduate students and untenured professors have faced threats after making attempts to unionize. As responsible professionals in the visual arts we must therefore respond thoughtfully and strategically.
In the face of the present vulnerability of arts professionals, what strategies of resistance can be employed? For this session we invite proposals for presentations that not only identify problems in higher education today but that also specifically explore possibilities for change. This session is not about abandoning hope and becoming isolated from our communities. Instead, we seek to enable artists and art historians to work towards a more equitable, positive, and productive environment for the visual arts. Each paper should
address a specific case study to illuminate a broader progressive strategy.
Please submit a CV and abstract of proposed session (150 words) to Kaylee Spencer
Deadline: April 15, 2011
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