VOICES: Cuts to fine arts would jeopardize our art prestige

Categories:  Opinions    The Arts
Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 at 2:00 PM
VOICES: Cuts to fine arts would jeopardize our art prestige by Emily Anderson
File Photo: Loveland Hall.

“You really do need to be well rounded to get a job in the industry.” 

On Aug. 26, The Spectator released an article detailing possible dangers looming for several fine arts programs at Edinboro. The article reads:

  • Art Department Chair and Associate Professor Suzanne Proulx said in an interview with The Spectator that while she couldn’t disclose what specific art programs are being looked at, she noted there are several in the fine arts that are being considered for cuts as part of a broad program review that is PASSHE-wide and across the university. Proulx further specified that the review of the art department is looking at fine arts and art history, including graduate-level programs. 

Social media activity, centered around the Facebook group “Save Edinboro University Fine Arts,” has called for no program cuts, citing, in part, how all current program offerings assist in an overall art education.  

Returning to our Aug. 26 article, Proulx stated:  

  • “There are a lot of art departments that have those majors that have big draws, especially animation and graphic design. However, the richness of the breadth of our offerings really sets us apart. It also changes the nature of a student who is a graphic designer, or an animator, or a filmmaker, because they have this rich experience of taking classes in all different media that really changes them as an artist and as a creator.” She emphasized the importance of having the diversity of class and studio options, as they can often be brought into other disciplines. 

We set out to discover how exactly concentrations within the art department affect each other, using current student and alumni experiences. While certain programs may not have huge waiting lists of students, that does not mean they should be cut from the department. 

Carly Lubic, an Edinboro alum who now works as an adaptive designer at The Hershey Company, stressed the importance of exposure to fine arts. “I was never really exposed to the fine arts in high school, so when I came to Edinboro it opened my eyes to these new opportunities that I can explore and [ways to] enhance my artistic skills.”  

She believes these fine arts classes make students a jack-of-all-trades, and exposes them to a little bit of everything. It was these courses and the well-rounded education she received at Edinboro that prepared her for a career after college. 

Recent Edinboro graduate Brianna Nicole Pail conveyed similar sentiments in an email she sent to the university that she later shared with The Spectator. She expressed that while she was an animation major, the fine arts courses she took “were the cornerstone to [her] education.”   

Pail urged the school to continue these programs. “As an artist, the most important tools in your toolkit are not your sketchbook or charcoal pencils, but a strong foundation of 2D and 3D design, composition, color theory, form, and the knowledge to apply these skills in order to be a successful and well-rounded creative.” She continued, “I learned more from my thesis level art history surveys, drawing, wood furniture, print, and other fine arts studios at Edinboro as an animation student than I ever could have hoped on my own.”  

Pail believes that students in her classes who did not value the fine arts programs, “consistently produced lower quality work than those who understood the importance of the fundamentals of art.” By understanding the fine arts and honing those skills, these digital arts majors became better artists.  

Further, she says that students who do not grasp these fundamentals will not reach out for help to better understand them without the incentive of a grade, despite desperately needing to know these foundations to become a successful artist after graduation. “Allowing the state to cut advanced coursework and majors in the fine arts will greatly hinder student success.” 

Current animation student, Michaela Morreale, expressed her concern about the possibility of program cuts. “Animation isn’t just digital — it requires drawing, painting, sculpting,” she said. “I’m a much better artist today thanks to the fine arts classes. You really do need to be well rounded to get a job in the industry.”   

By cutting fine arts offerings, Edinboro would compromise the quality of higher enrollment programs, like animation, one of the biggest draws to the school. Fine arts courses shape an artist, digital or not. With reduced fine arts programs, the university risks losing its prestige as a renowned place to earn a degree for applied media arts hopefuls.  

Emily Anderson is the Voices Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

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