A Critique of Studio Art Education
Written by Judy Chicago
A revered teacher and the most influential feminist artist of our time, Judy Chicago provides an autobiographical look at higher education in art, a must-read for aspiring artists and educators in studio art programs.
How should women—and men—be prepared for a career in today’s art world? For more than a decade, Judy Chicago has been formulating a critique of studio art education, in colleges or art schools, based upon observation, study, and, most importantly, her own teaching experiences, which have taken her from prestigious universities to regional colleges, and across the country from Cal Poly Pomona to Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Founder of the first program dedicated to feminist art, at California State University, Fresno, in 1970, she went on to initiate the Feminist Art Program at California Institute of the Arts with artist Miriam Schapiro, the first program at a major art school to specifically address the needs of female art students.
Creator of the celebrated The Dinner Party, a monumental art installation now on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum, Chicago reviews her own art education, in the 1960s, when she overcame sexist obstacles to beginning a career as an artist and became recognized as one of the key figures in the dynamic California art scene of that decade. She reviews the present-day situation of young people aspiring to become artists and uncovers the persistence of a bias against women and other minorities in studio art education. Far from a dry educational treatise, Institutional Time is heartfelt, and highly personal: a book that has the earmarks of a classic in arts education.
Praise for Institutional Time
“Chapter Seven of Institutional Time, which cooly lays out the difficulties that graduates will face, should be required reading for all prospective arts students. Chicago is quick to put down the notion that the West has accomplished a state of Post-Feminist bliss, maintaining that equality of education has a long way to go.”
“In this characteristically tenacious book, feminist artist and educator Chicago, best known for her 1979 installation The Dinner Party, shares her struggles and successes as an art instructor—at CalArts (where she helped establish the feminist art program), Indiana University, Duke, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and elsewhere—and boldly calls for a systematic restructuring of studio art programs, which she finds ‘deficient, dishonest, and lacking in standards,’ as well as androcentric. Chicago’s critiques and proposals are powerful conversation-starters, presented earnestly and without academic jargon. She contends, for example, that studio art educators should have teaching credentials; that students should be exposed to a greater variety of art practices and practitioners, such as muralists and community-based artists; women’s studies should be fully integrated into the core curriculum; and, finally, ‘artists might consider joining forces to combat an art system that is bad for art and toxic for artists.’ Disillusioned students and educators will benefit from this rousing book.”
“As the most prominent artist of the what is known as the 'Second Wave' of feminism, Chicago helped lay the groundwork for a later generation of more art-world-savvy female artists, like Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman and Jenny Holzer. As feminism evolved—or perhaps devolved—into just another subspecies of postmodern word games, Chicago remained true to her roots : engaged, political, and always aimed at a wide audience. She has lasted long enough now to be declared both passe and prescient, and there are critics who see her consistency of political vision as a strength that will only be recognized perhaps decades from now.”
—The Washington Post
“While organized into eight thematic chapters, the book feels more like a casual memoir than a focused academic piece. It serves to document the author's many higher-ed feminist projects, then (1970s) and now (e.g., partnering with Kutztown University art educators). Collectors and fans of Chicago's artworks (Dinner Party) and writings (Beyond the Flower) will welcome this strongly charged, feminist-oriented, eclectic narrative.”
“Judy Chicago documents her work as a teacher of studio art in US colleges and universities. Over five decades, she has taught courses that resulted in very well-received exhibitions. In 2011, Chicago’s papers, 'The Judy Chicago Art Education Collection,' were placed in the Special Collections Library of Penn State University. Along with this book, they will provide valuable stimulus for discussion on how art is taught.”
—Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
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