Student Essays & Interviews

The mix of students in this class helped to create an unrepeatable alchemy that was especially evident during the often very passionate discussions, which, on more than one occasion, broke out into argument. There were art and art history students, art education and museum studies majors, all at different levels, from across Virginia, and as far away as Russia. Each one had very different interests, but almost all of them took on their chosen topic with brio and finesse. I encouraged students to write comparative papers that focused on local institutions, or issues, in relation to similar national or international examples or case studies. Students wrote on funding, new media, accreditation, autonomy, architecture, censorship, and education and community outreach, among other subjects. However, some students also conducted excellent and enlightening interviews with local and international leaders in the museum community.
                There are many outstanding papers, but some of the best include Claire Buis ambitious and original treatment of the theoretical challenges and opportunities presented by the internet, in terms of the way we experience and engage with university art museums and their collections, in real time, and in cyberspace. Sharayah Cochran, who begins grad school in the fall, wrote one of the most rigorous and useful papers, about pros and cons of accreditation and the difficult position university art museums and galleries inhabit, caught between the authority of the university, and/or State and federal powers, or non-existent federal powers, as the case may be. Useful also describes the National Directory assembled by Laine Clark. As far as we know, there is nothing else like it in existence, and we know it will be an indispensable tool for those interested in continuing to build this unique, and uniquely American, cultural network.
                Scholarship should not just be useful, however, it should also be playful and philosophical, it should always be testing the limits of meaning and purpose. In short, scholarship should always ask more questions than it answers, and it should take risks, because as we have learned, there is a lot at stake, not just academic freedom and artistic freedom, but the very treasures which define our collective humanity. The paper that took on those issues was written by one of the youngest students in the class. In Taylor Horak
s paper Ad Melius Peius she discusses the significance of the relationship between art, architecture, and freedom in an academic setting, sketching out the beginnings of a kind of ontology of the university art museum.

♦  City & Colony: Collection Development in Urban and Rural Settings
    Olivia Blackwell
♦  An Opportunity to Build Community in Virginia

    Louisiana & Maine