Artists wear berets and work alone. Right? Wrong!
Worcester, Mass. — Artists wear berets and work alone, starving and isolated in cluttered garrets. Right? Wrong.
You are more likely to find an artist working for industry than in a garret, according to Albert A. Anderson, chairman of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Clark University. They are making videotapes and designing magazines.
Artists no longer fit the stereotype of the last century and, according to Mr. Anderson and his department, it is time to get their schooling out of the garret as well.
Clark and the Worcester Art Museum are trying to do just that with a new program that includes the merger of the museum school with the university this year.
The program, which combines the museum school's professional training with Clark's liberal arts education, is designed to expose artists to other academic areas and to arts other than their own specialties; in short, to get them out of their garrets.
''I am opposed to the idea of the musician who will sit and practice all day, '' Mr. Anderson explained. ''There is a tendency of too many young artists and young people in general toward too narrow an education.''
Courses in the humanities and the sciences stimulate artists, he said, by bringing them in contact with new ideas, history, and technology.
While requirements are few, students and faculty are encouraged to take on interdisciplinary study in the arts, he said. In an effort to bring people together, disciplines that are traditionally separated in other schools such as history and criticism, the visual arts, and the performing arts are parts of one department at Clark.
''We want to make it clear to everyone that the person being educated in the contemporary arts needs to be educated in more than one single discipline,'' Anderson said.
Training profesional artists has changed, and that is one reason Worcester Art Museum decided to merge with Clark, said Richard S. Teitz, director of the museum. The days when art students spent all their time drawing from figures or copying museum pieces are gone, he explained.
Professional training has become more demanding, he said, and exposure to other areas of study is important. To buttress his statement he asserted:
''An artist doesn't function in a vacuum and many artists enjoy this opportunity to explore interests that might have been latent.'' The merger brought 78 new students to Clark and nearly tripled the department's faculty. In turn, the museum has turned its energies to community-based education.
Students are still offered a three-year certificate like the one given by the museum's school. In addition they have the choice of a bachelor of arts degree with a major in art or a bachelor of fine arts degree which requires more art courses.
Despite protests by students at the museum school when the merger was announced, most are finding there are advantages to being students at Clark.
Michelle Gagnon, a freshman, for example, plans to take history courses and to get a degree, two things she couldn't have done before the merger.
Students and parents protested the merger because they felt ''the museum school was being sold out for money,'' said John Graziano, a third-year student. They were worried that the quality of the training would suffer, he said.
But, he said, the merger ''has gone for the better.''
Clark's curriculum includes more contemporary art and theory and the courses have more academic structure, Graziano said. And students have full use of all Clark's facilities.
''Rather than just being a student at this small art school we are students at this university,'' he said.
Getting art students more involved in other interests parallels a trend in art to integrate art into everyday life, Mr. Anderson said. For many years artists have been more concerned with the way a piece of art is created, with its form rather than with its meaning. Both art and the artist have been cut off. That is changing and it is a trend he wants to encourage.
''We don't want the separation between the beaux arts and the arts that go into a magazine,'' he said. ''That kind of separation is essentially destructive to the life of the mind.''
Anderson wants to see the artists graduating from the program at Clark become active members of their society, not isolated individuals.
''I go back to that seemingly corny explanation,'' he said. ''Above all, I like to think of the person as a human being and a citizen. I don't want to think of the artist any differently than we think of any other professional.''