Glass in the Midwest

glass blowing 1I had a chance to visit Louisville, Kentucky this weekend. A nice weekend of exploring led to an appreciation for the city’s growing arts community. On Saturday I toured the Glassworks building – which shows off the city’s true support for glass arts. Claiming to be the only facility of its kind in the country, it houses two glass galleries and two working glass studios alongside the Mark Payton Glass Center, which offers tours, walk-in workshops, and the opportunity to create kiln-fired, fused glass projects. The artisans of Payton Flameworks studio make detailed, delicate creations by flame working with a torch and hot glass. Those at Flame Run studio blow hot molten glass into breathtaking works of art. (Don’t try this at home!)

Just a few blocks away is the University of Louisville’s Cressman Center, which houses the Hite Art Institute – U of L’s Department of Fine Arts. The close proximity is no accident. U of L students studying glass can see a potential career path right down the street.

As part of Uof L’s study of art, students can choose a BA or BFA. The former is designed for those looking for a broader exposure to studio work, while the latter is geared towards those with professional ambitions who want more in depth study. BFA students interested in glass can customize their degree to focus on glass alone or work cross-media, taking courses in several studio areas. The program teaches the fundamentals of hot, warm, and cold glassmaking techniques, emphasizing the historic and contemporary context of glass art.

glass blowing in classInterested in glass but want to know your options? Check out these other Midwestern programs.  There are private and public programs represented, giving you the option to choose all-in glass, or combine it with a comprehensive liberal arts education. They all sound fabulous to me. I’m guessing at least one of them will click for you.  

             Ball State University

            Centre College

            Cleveland Institute of Art

            College for Creative Studies

            Ohio State University

            Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Let’s Get Practical – The Real Value of an Art Degree

So mom and dad are a little anxious that you want to study art in college – let alone attend an art school. That’s understandable, especially in today’s job market. What kind of job can you get with a degree in painting – or any other art field for that matter? Thinking long term, what kind of career choices will you have? Will you earn enough to make a living? And how about paying back those pesky student loans?

Ceramic color tiles

Ceramic color tiles

First things first; when deciding to pursue an art education you need to realize that not everyone who studies art will be as successful as Ralph Lauren or Georgia O’Keefe. But the skills learned are transferable and invaluable.

Steven Tepper, Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University and Research Director of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) recently explained the growing need for artists in the workplace in Fast Company magazine. “It’s common today to debate the comparative merits and economic value of various college majors, but those of us who track issues and trends around the nation’s creative economy contend that much of the comparisons miss the mark in important and fundamental ways.” He continues, “no less a force in global business than IBM found that the most important skill for successfully navigating our increasingly complex, volatile, and uncertain world is none other than creativity.”

Art school outwardly teaches the creativity of art and design. Subliminally it instills problem solving skills, patience and determination, flexibility, collaboration, and a strong work ethic that lets you fail and begin again. All these skills are critical to become a successful artist, a valued employee and a trusted leader.

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman approached creativity from a different perspective in “Need a Job? Invent It.” His observation, and that of Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner, is that today’s and tomorrow’s job seekers will not only need to be creative in their search efforts but more than likely need to design their own jobs and career paths.

Creativity and innovation are at the heart of what every artist studies. And the idea of a starving artist probably isn’t going away soon. But the reality of an art education being the stepping stone to a growing and prosperous career is more plausible today than ever before.

What do I think? Well, it’s about time.