ArtCenter College of Design faculty members are partnering with a prominent international art gallery for an exhibition and online sale that launched Tuesday aimed at raising funds to establish remunerated, tuition-free ArtCenter fellowships for graduate students.
“Our vision is to expand our departments’ endowed scholarship funds and make our program more accessible to more diverse candidates. Ultimately, our goal is to raise enough money to provide a tuition-free experience for each of the 35 artists enrolled in the MFA program,” said visual artist Stan Douglas, Chair of the Graduate Art Department at ArtCenter College of Design.
The first fundraiser to support the initiative is Artists for ArtCentera non-profit online presentation conceived in collaboration with New York-based gallery David Zwirner and launched July 19.
The online presentation features works by the school’s renowned alumni and faculty. All sales proceeds benefit the Artist for ArtCenter Grad Art Scholarship at the Art Center College of Design.
That Artists for ArtCenter The sale includes works donated by ArtCenter alumni and faculty members including Aaron Curry, Stan Douglas, Nathan Hylden, Sharon Lockhart, Ivan Morley, Shahryar Nashat, Joshua Nathanson, Laura Owens, Sterling Ruby and Diana Thater.
“This is the ideal way for us as artists to work together to support the next generation of artists,” said Douglas, who co-directs the Free Grad Art initiative with Diana Thater, former Chair of the ArtCenter Graduate Department Art and a core faculty member for the past 27 years.
That Artists for ArtCenter The online sale is the realization of a commitment by Graduate Art faculty and its alumni to generate scholarship and remove the burden of tuition for MFA student artists. Free Grad Art is a key goal of Douglas’ current direction of the department. More efforts and projects will be announced in the near future to support this goal.
Diana Thaters Natural History One (2019) was donated by the artist and will be part of the online benefit presentation. This work is currently on view at the lobby entrance at 1111 S. Arroyo Parkway to the ArtCenter campus in Pasadena. The installation marks the inauguration of ArtCenter Exhibitions’ new 1111 Projects initiative, which will feature a rotating program of important works by the college’s alumni.
Planning for the Free Grad Art Scholarship Initiative began in 2018. The department’s full-time faculty decided to form a Grad Art Advisory Board, composed of current faculty and selected alumni. Current Advisory Board members are Chris Birchby (MFA 01), Aaron Curry (MFA 05), Stan Douglas, Laura Owens, Jason Smith, Bruce Heavin (BFA 93), and Diana Thater (MFA 90).
This body worked to strategically address an issue facing many North American MFA fine arts programs: the rising debt of young artists. The high cost of enrolling in the best MFA programs means many artists leave these institutions with crushing debt, conditions that make it difficult to live and work as an artist once they leave school. For many excellent young artists, cost is an insurmountable obstacle. While many arts institutions serving the larger art world thrive on a strong tradition of patronage philanthropy, support for emerging artists in graduate programs is largely overlooked.
The Grad Art Advisory Board developed a new three-pronged approach. They agreed that MFA candidates must first be viewed as artists about to enter the art world and must be treated as such by the gallerists, collectors and institutions they will work with in the decades to come. Second, not only philanthropists must be addressed, but all actors in the art world, including foundations, collectors, institutions, gallery owners and, above all, established artists. Third, the Advisory Board decided that the optimal model for fundraising in the early stages of Free Grad Art is not to solicit donations directly or conduct a cumbersome auction, but to have the artists on the Board sell and ask their works directly through their galleries the gallerists waive their usual fee, giving the entire sale proceeds to grants within the framework of the Free Grad Art initiative. This initial collaboration between artists and gallerists will in turn testify to the commitment of these two “stakeholders”, which enables all talented, ambitious artists to Participate in the best MFA programs in North America without regard to cost. Based on these commitments, a broader base of donors—other artists not affiliated with ArtCenter, gallery owners, collectors, and foundations—will be approached to join the effort.
ArtCenter’s Graduate Art program is based on intensive studio practice and rigorous academic coursework.
For more information visit www.artcenter.edu/connect/college-news/artists-unite-sell-works-make-graduate-more-accessible-diverse.html.