December is a curious month at the School of Art + Art History + Design. It begins with the insular rush of finishing the quarter, immediately followed by the holiday break that can make one forget about school for a few weeks. The energy level ramps up in anticipation of finals, students actually study in Parnassus, lights glow through the night in the studios, and proper eating and sleeping habits are discarded in favor of carving out a few more hours in the day to make that last-minute final touch or edit. Whether by means of a test, paper, or critique, our students synthesize, demonstrate, and present what they have learned and what they believe. Throughout our buildings, one can hear the well-earned applause signaling the end of a critique or the cheers emanating from the Industrial Design spinning top competition. And then silence as the School is vacated until the new year.
Although the winter solstice is already behind us, these early days of winter quarter 2016 are still ever so short. The darkness outside makes it easier to concentrate our time in the classrooms, studios, and offices with an occasional break to catch the filtered northern light raking the Quad. The light was at its finest last Friday when, mid-afternoon, many of us walked across the street and entered the recently dedicated wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, built in a coastal longhouse style. With the fragrance of cedar still lingering in the air, we gathered in this inspiring space for our annual Scholarship Reception to celebrate the accomplishments and promise of many of our undergraduate students. The light outside had started to fade by the time the last cupcake was devoured, but the brightness returned upon entering the Art Building where the first floor hallways reflected a fresh coat of white paint.
Many of the faculty consider winter to be the busiest academic quarter with full classes, active exhibition schedules in all our galleries, letters of recommendation to write, national conferences to attend, committee work to be done, and the need to carve out dedicated time for their own research and creative work. In addition, winter is the season where we plan for the future by selecting our next graduate class, carefully choosing about 25 potential students from a pool of over 400 national and international applicants. The recruitment process to bring these talented students to the School of Art + Art History + Design has become more of a challenge with the rising costs of tuition, materials, and housing. We have been able to remain competitive with many of our peers because of the continued generosity offered by alumni and friends, coupled with long-standing endowments and support from the College of Arts & Sciences. Winter is also the peak season for faculty searches. We are conducting three tenure-track position searches this year, one in Art History and two in Design, that will help replenish the School following a number of retirements in recent years.
And Winter is the time when we host the Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice lecture series in conjunction with ART 361/595. Thanks to The New Foundation Seattle for making this unique course possible and allowing us to make the lectures free and open to the public. We were also honored to receive a grant from the Boeing Company in support of the Jake Legacy Artist-in-Residence, Steffani Jemison, who is offering workshops and creating her own work in the Jacob Lawrence Gallery through her opening on January 19.
Two other events of note are the 3D4M Open House on February 16 and the return of BuyArt, the student and alumni art sale, scheduled for the first week of March.
Thank you for your interest in the School of Art + Art History + Design, and I hope that you will find a way to stay engaged with us in 2016.
Director, School of Art + Art History + Design
Professor, 3D4M: ceramics + glass + sculpture
Wyckoff Milliman Endowed Chair in Art