Illustrative art discriminated against….again. Sign the petition.
Students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State University are demanding their own department, after being denied services and space equivalent to what other art students at their school get.
According to a faculty member, the A/I students get only 6,000 square feet of space, while the Fine Art students get 63,000 and won’t share, despite A/I topping out its enrollment while Art’s enrollment falls. That’s not all. A/I students are suffering because their student-to-teacher ratio is higher than Art or Design as well; and in an effort to keep more from enrolling, they are subjected to a higher level of GPA - 3.75 - than almost every other department in the university in order to gain admission to the prestigious and successful program. It looks like the university is embarrassed to have skilled workers training under its roof, and is trying to close down the program.
In the absence of any public statement or explanation as to why the A/I students are not treated as other art students are, it appears that the students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State University are suffering because the administration and the Art faculty who control the department have an innate and unexamined prejudice against illustration and cartoon (A/I instructors are not given a seat in the decision-making boardroom, according to students in the video).
Such prejudice against commercial arts developed in the late 19th century and peaked in the 1950s, when it was used to bolster the modernist New York School elite. In recent decades, scholarly theories from institutional critique to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital to theories of popular culture have all demonstrated that the demonization of illustration was a product of mid-20th-century time and place, when thinkers such as the Frankfurt School marxists decried commercialism in art and culture following the devastation wreaked by Nazi propagandists, the rise of Fordist capitalism and its dark side, the Great Depression. What adherents to the “culture critique” overlook is that the so-called non-commercial arts are just as commercialized as illustration, and in far more insidious ways, being an unregulated market speculated upon by the world’s wealthiest seeking tax shelters.
Illustration Studies is now a hot field of academic inquiry. The Association of Historians of American Art is hosting a public panel on illustration, at the 2013 College Art Association conference, chaired by myself. Other conferences for the study of illustration are happening in Portugal, Krakow, New York, Plymouth, Dartmouth. Jettisoning or neglecting its Animation/Illustration section indicates San Jose State is out of touch with current academic trends.
While critical analysis of corporate media and popular art is a necessary component of making a better world through art, disowning a highly competent program is not the way to do it. San José State university would be well advised to see the opportunity under their noses to pioneer Practice-Based Research in the United States.
Sign the petition to get the Animation/Illustration program its own department, where they can nurture up creators who will apply good critical thinking skills along with their studio skills, to make the university proud.