It’s a privilege to serve as the new director of Houston’s chief laboratory in the visual arts—the University of Houston School of Art. I write to you today to share some of the school’s successes and our vision for the future.
Our students, alumni and faculty contribute greatly to the cultural and intellectual life in this region and beyond and are an important part of what has led to the university’s Tier One ranking among America’s research universities. Creative research requires focus and dedication, and we strive to provide art students with the tools and experiences they need to succeed.
Faculty excellence and a commitment to teaching are paramount to that effort. A world-class faculty also forms the foundation of our MFA program, the only such program in Houston and one that continues to be the locus of sophisticated art making in the region. Open any important national art publication or stroll through Texas’ finest galleries and you will see our faculty’s work in print and on view.
While an excellent faculty is essential to our students’ artistic development, so are other experiences that encourage them to challenge and expand their creative boundaries. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts next door continues to provide students with cross-disciplinary innovation in visual, literary and performing arts. Through the Center, our students get to work with cutting-edge visiting artists and organizations such as Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Joan Tower, Theaster Gates, the Art Guys, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.
We also know that having a taste of working in the “real world” can give students an important perspective on their own work. The School of Art is increasingly using the city as its classroom. Partnerships with museums and other arts organizations give students great professional development opportunities and support the work of the community. Our students are working as interns and staff at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, the Museum of Printing History, the Blaffer Museum, and others. They are also helping with major public projects, such as the award-winning redesign of Japhet Creek Park.
As a next step in our school’s growth, I’m excited to share that we have recently added a Master’s degree in Art History, which promises to add substantially to the historical and contemporary art discourses of our city. We are also set to launch the UH School of Art Fine Art Press. Proceeds from edition sales will contribute to art student scholarships—watch for more details soon.
With more than 950 art students—larger than many freestanding fine art colleges—it’s challenging to encapsulate all that we do in a single letter, and this one merely scratches the surface.
The vision for the UH School of Art is to harness and focus the resources necessary to make us a national destination for art students and scholars and one that sustains and grows Houston’s vibrant visual arts scene. I invite you to be a part of it!