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June 24, 2020

School Watch features on the Core Program at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and UCU strike

Art & Education

Student protests on the roof of Tory party headquarters at 30 Millbank, London, November 10, 2010. Photo: Charlie Owens, CC BY-SA 2.0. Via Wikimedia Commons.

London art school students demonstrating in front of the Royal Exchange during the March for Education, February 26, 2020. Photo: Lucy Bird.

leo, “Just Another Shadie Bitch” (Act II): Let me Entertain, 2020.Three hundred posters, excerpt of “Let me Entertain You” from Gypsy, upright piano, LED stripes, LED spotlights, voice and piano notations for Gypsy with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music score by Jule Styne, center table, ashtray, Cuban cigars, lighter, cigar cutter, glasses, decanter, whisky, aluminum bowl, champagne, lipstick, cigarette wallet, cigarettes, opera gloves, faux feather boa, armchair, dimensions variable.

Core fellows brunch at Glenda Robbins studio, 1986. Left to right: Scott Kelley, Rachel Hecker, Maria Rojas, Keith Tishkin, Julia Kunin, Emily Mack Smith, and Rob Stolzer. Photo: Amy Blakemore.

Niloufar Emamifar, Sculpture Garden, 2020. Two Wilson Bohannan padlocks, 2” wide solid brass padlock, 1” stainless steel shackle (each). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Ryan Hawk, this wary way of walking, 2020. 2160p video projection with sound, speakers, double-seated folding chairs, beige carpet, 10 minutes. Photo courtesy of the artist.

We are pleased to share two new School Watch features on the University and College Union strike in the United Kingdom and the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

School Watch surveys programs in fine art, curating, critical theory, and other related disciplines, as well as the ideas and conditions that influence their practice.

Since 2014, Art & Education has published over 50 features, editorials, and conversations to advance the discussion of art and academia worldwide. The School Watch archive offers invaluable perspective on the field, documenting the ways artists, educators, students, and curators engage with art pedagogy.

Course Correction: The UCU Strike and Art Education in the UK
by Aleks Stanek
Preceded by months of public discussion over the mental health crisis in higher education, the strike crystallized how deeply the experiences of staff and students intersect. Paid by the work day and stretched by disproportionate workloads, visiting lecturers simply run out of time to provide pastoral care to their students. This is not only demoralizing for staff, who value their relationships with students and find striking difficult due to their concern for student well-being and performance, but destructive to the very substance of education. On social media, several UCU members noted how their reluctance to abandon their duties contrasted with the overbearing feeling of being left with no choice but to participate in industrial action. Chronic stress is as prominent in academic staff as it is in students. Responding to this multifaceted crisis would necessitate structural changes to these institutions, and no amount of rhetoric emphasizing resilience or praise for overworked staff whose goodwill keeps the schools running can curtail it. In a time of excessive presenteeism, taking a break from detrimental work conditions is and should be political. Students joined the lecturers losing up to half of their monthly wages when pickets formed at the entrances of art and design juggernauts such as University College London, Glasgow School of Art, Goldsmiths, Royal College of Art, and University of the Arts London. Nowhere was the support more visible than at the March for Education taking place in London on the second week of the strike. [read more]

Fellow Feeling: A Discussion of the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
with Natilee Harren, Joseph Havel, and Mary Leclère
Natilee Harren: I want to press you, if I may, to speak more explicitly about some of the aesthetic and intellectual concerns of current and recent Core fellows and visitors. While the program doesn’t have a particular ideological orientation, I wonder if there is more to be said about it having a provisional or working ethical orientation? What does the Core make possible, and for whom? What does it mean for a program like this to exist in today’s art world?

Mary Leclère: I want to invoke the phrase that we use to describe the program: the Core Program is for artists and critical writers who are “working to develop a sustainable practice.” In other words, we want to support those who are in it for the long haul. It would be disingenuous to deny that the program contributes to the fellows’ professional development, but that is not its sole objective. While there were many fewer residencies when the Core Program was launched, they crop up everywhere now. But none—or very few—have the level of support and the duration of the Core Program. The Core term is nine months (from the beginning of September to the end of May), but fellows can apply for a second term, so they can potentially spend almost two years in the program. This gives them time to “take themselves apart,” as Joe likes to say, and to really think through their practices. [read more]

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