This fall, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum announced its Board of Trustees approved a Strategic Plan for 2011-2016.
As part of this Plan, deCordova declared its goal of becoming a clear leader among this country’s sculpture parks by 2016. In addition to this goal, the Plan describes education as becoming a more central part of deCordova’s future. Through gallery learning, art making opportunities, and interactive experiences, deCordova plans to connect its visitors to contemporary sculpture and art in new, innovative ways. Therefore, deCordova’s education and art making programs will undergo changes in the coming months.
The following FAQ was created to answer common questions about deCordova’s art making program.
How will the Strategic Plan inform the School offerings?
In addition to being a clear leader among this country’s sculpture parks the institution’s goal is to grow as an innovator in arts education, connecting visitors of all ages and backgrounds to the contemporary sculpture and art it shows and collects. In order to achieve this goal, deCordova’s educational programming will become richer and more varied to engage a broad variety of audiences.
DeCordova is focusing its efforts on offering all visitors a robust and unique educational program which clearly connects with and supports the Park and Museum exhibition schedule. Therefore, deCordova is modifying the format of its current educational program to being inspired directly by the exhibition themes, exhibiting artists’ ideas and techniques, and the Museum’s unique setting. The current semester-based studio art making program is being transformed into a mission-focused set of offerings to include workshops, seminars, short class series, and readily available art making opportunities for visitors of all ages in a variety of media. In determining which programs to offer, the core question will be “How does this educational offering support our mission, and how does it make specific use of our exhibitions, Park, collection, or facility?” Changes are already underway, and it is anticipated that these new programs will be fully implemented by fall 2012.
When will these changes happen?
The winter and spring 2012 semesters will increasingly see new offerings mixed in with classes that resemble the program of prior years. The summer 2012 program will continue to grow, as it has for the past few years. Starting in fall 2012 semester-based offerings will be significantly reduced, while workshops, seminars, and readily available art making opportunities in the Park and Museum will be significantly expanded. DeCordova staff are working with current faculty to discuss how they can apply their expertise to create mission-specific offerings for deCordova inspired by its unique setting and its exhibition schedule.
What will the educational program look like? Will my favorite class be offered in the future?
The educational program will flow from our mission, our focus on sculpture, and the exhibition and installation schedule. The Plan also describes an Education program that allows visitor engagement with the art work on view through hands-on experiences that connect seeing and doing and the opportunity to interact with artists. Workshops, seminars, and readily available art making programs in the Park and Museum in a variety of media will be offered, some of which may relate to current classes. The exact slate of fall 2012 offerings and schedules are still under discussion, as they would be even if no change were underway.
The spring 2012 offerings have been scheduled and consist of some traditional offerings as well as new courses and workshops that highlight the future direction of art making opportunities at deCordova. Although the spring 2012 brochure will not be available until late January, some examples of spring courses and workshops indicative of future offerings include:
- Art and Science: Mushrooms and Microbes - a weekend workshop inspired by deCordova’s environment. Students will produce a variety of products created from nature including a mushroom spore print, paints from mud, and drawings of tree roots.
- Colored Pencil: Inside and Out - a four-part course designed to explore the medium of colored pencils through activities that take inspiration from the Park and the art being shown on campus.
- Collaboration with Nature - a weekend workshop with Featured Artist Jon Brooks. This workshop will engage students in a group sculpture making activity using natural materials found on deCordova’s grounds and additional materials provided by the instructor.
Who will be responsible for making class offering decisions?
Like all Museums, the Board holds ultimate authority regarding overarching programmatic decisions, but deCordova staff is responsible for developing, organizing, staffing, and evaluating all programs with the approval of the Director.
If I do wish to continue to take semester-based studio classes, where can I go?
DeCordova will continue to offer art making opportunities in a variety of media, but should you wish to continue semester-based studio learning, deCordova recommends the following nearby institutions:
· Emerson Umbrella, Concord, MA
· Concord Art Association, Concord, MA
· New Art Center, Newton, MA
· Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington, MA
· Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA
· Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA
· Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
· Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, Lexington, MA
· MetalWerx, Waltham, MA (jewelry/metalsmithing focus)
· Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA
· Brookline Center for Arts, Brookline, MA
· Center for the Arts, Natick, MA
· Elliot School of Craft and Fine Art, Boston , MA
· School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
· Currier Art Center, Manchester, NH
· Mud Flat, Cambridge, MA (ceramics focus)
· North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA
· South Shore Art Center, Cohasset, MA
What will happen to deCordova’s faculty?
DeCordova has asked all faculty members to consider proposing ideas for future offerings, and it is our hope that many will make this transition with us and remain part of the deCordova community. However, we also understand that some faculty will not have an interest in this new deCordova model, and we have offered to assist them in transitioning their courses to other institutions or in seeking other opportunities through written and verbal recommendations, outreach by our staff and Director, or other means. Nearly all of our faculty members already teach at multiple institutions, and in some cases we anticipate faculty will shift more of their teaching to these other organizations.
Additionally, deCordova has already informed many area art institutions that our faculty members and students may be looking for additional places to teach or take classes, reiterating that the change represents an institutional shift and is by no means a reflection on the work or quality of our students and faculty.
How can I stay informed as to where faculty members are teaching?
DeCordova acknowledges the history that many of its faculty and students have here and with one another and we value the relationship and community that has been built over the years. Because of this we will be making efforts to update the faculty bio section of our website with new teaching locations for our faculty. We encourage students to ask faculty members and other students if they are comfortable sharing contact information.
What will happen to the current studio space?
A master planning process is underway which will examine this question as one of many to be answered. Some studio space will be maintained for art making opportunities and education. Additionally, several of the studios will be used on a part-time basis by the Lincoln Nursery School (LNS). DeCordova announced this winter that starting fall 2012 the deCordova campus will be the home of all four LNS classes. This expanded partnership will advance our mission and showcase an innovative approach to early childhood arts education that will inform all of our educational offerings.
What will happen to the studio equipment?
Some of the equipment in the studios will be maintained for future art making opportunities. Other pieces will be assessed and donated or sold to students, faculty members, and area institutions. If someone is interested in a particular item, s/he should contact Kirsten Feldman, School Manager at 781.259.3602.
How will further information about the art making program be communicated?
DeCordova staff is communicating with Faculty, students, area art institutions, Museum Guides, Members, and other constituents in a variety of ways, including meetings with the Director, phone calls, emails, and letters. Please continue to check the website for more information about art making opportunities and schedules. DeCordova’s education department will continue to circulate emails and print materials about art making opportunities. If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Education department at 781.259.0505.