Monday, April 30, 2012

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design is a four year art school located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts.

The main building, which is called the "tower," has the gloom of a modernist building that wasn't designed with people in mind. But the students have decorated the interior spaces with cheerful paintings of trees and faces that help to humanize it.

I toured the building with illustration chair Linda Bourke. There are 185 illustration students, making illustration the largest major subject.


Abraham Tena teaches a course on the Human Figure in Illustration, where he has the students diagram the muscles. The school offers a two-hour open drawing session each week, both costumed and nude, which anyone can attend for free.



Andy Reach, like all upper division students, gets his own dedicated workspace. It's OK if they don't keep the space tidy. "We love it when they get messy," Ms. Bourke said.


One of the most popular classes is illustrative mask making, where the students work directly with theater professionals from Boston. Students are encouraged to experiment with unconventional illustration media, such as embroidery, cutout sculpture, animation, and Sculpey. Above is a sculptural illustration by Virginia Kainamisis.


The graduating seniors put special effort into preparing their portfolio. On behalf of the students, the school produces and provides them with a set of business cards in the form of illustrated trading cards. 
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Massart web site

13 comments:

etc, etc said...

James,
What are your thoughts on traditional and digital media; will the former be practically dead in a few decades?

James Gurney said...

Wow, big question. Digital and traditional art will both be around. Handmade paintings aren't going away. I think what we'll see increasingly are novel hybrids of the two ways of painting.

etc, etc said...

James,
I was thinking about a new generation that grows up with tablet computers and perhaps feels it ethical to avoid the use of paper products as much as possible; if they don't begin with traditional drawing then there's not much hope for traditional painting.

James Gurney said...

Etc: Almost all the art schools we've visited offer some combination of digital and handmade methods, and I think they have to. Massart definitely covers both. Students also spend time animation and sculpting. Both of those added dimensions are important to get your head and hands around even if you intend to focus on 2D.

Lester Yocum said...

With the little experience that I have, the greatest value of traditional artwork that I see is its uniqueness and the fact that buyers can take ownership of the original. No matter the quality of a digital product, all it takes is a button press to have exact copies made as good as the original. There is only one "Starry Night" or "Barge Haulers on the Volga" or "Song in the Garden", however, and anything else is a multiple generation, a copy. Collectors will always value that. Get close to a Gurney and you will see the brush strokes and technique and perhaps a pencil line or two underneath, their interaction with the canvas. This can be found in digital prints to some degree but the result is not the same.

Keith Parker said...

I have noticed that you have visited a lot of art schools over the past few years, including a few trips to some of the Art Institute schools. How are these guest lectures set up? I just enrolled at the Art Institute of Houston and was wondering what it would take to request some way for you to visit. I know you are very busy these days, so if you are too booked I understand, but I just wanted to know.

By the way I am an avid follower of your blog and books/ articles. I dropped your name in the February 2011 issue of IFX. As always I look forward to what you have to say.

Thanks,
Keith Parker

James Gurney said...

Hey, Keith, thanks for checking out my books and mentioning me. I love visiting art schools for lectures and demos (and have done about three Art Institutes). I usually set up gigs at three or four schools in each region to make the trip worthwhile. Haven't done Texas yet, but there's always a first time!

Sketching Artist said...

James, I have the same question as Keith. I noticed you recently visited RISD and MICA. Although these are very close to each other, I was wondering if you might be heading down the coast to SCAD. My daughter attends there. Her major is illustration and is interested in medical illustration as well. I know she would benefit from anything you had to say, should you do a lecture there.

Prediksi Togel said...

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smileyginger said...

I think we can find more eco friendly ways to continue using paper - Strathmore already has their "Windpower" line. Artists as a whole could try to push for fabric recycling to bring about a return to high rag-content paper, which is much better quality anyway. Thousands of tons of cotton are discarded every year in the form of unused clothing - even by thrift stores. Think of all the paper we could make from those old T-shirts!!

James Gurney said...

Sketching--I'm hoping to get down the the Southeast this coming fall, and am talking to SCAD. If it firms up, I'll put it on the calendar.

Gregory Lee said...

I don't see why digital media should not be as interesting and expressive as paper. If they're not, as yet, someone should get to work on that.

Keith Parker said...

I draw on my computer all the time and believe me it's nowhere near the same experience. I have Photoshop, Painter, Artrage, and a nice Intuos tablet, but it's just not the same. Computers are great for coloring...drawing on the other hand...