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'Just What Are Those UC Irvine Grad Students Up To?'

June 04, 1988

As an undergraduate majoring in studio art at UC Irvine, I feel that the article does not accurately represent the studio art program at UCI.

It is true that individual working space at UCI could be more extensive and that equipment could be more elaborate. However, it could also be pointed out that the equipment and space are certainly adequate and that a graduate student requiring, for example, a foundry or a film studio would not select UCI for graduate work.

I feel that the article does not fairly reflect the attitudes that prevail among art students at UCI toward instructors' advice. I have never taken a studio art class at UCI that did not employ group and individual criticism as a means of evaluating students' work. In-depth criticism of a specific body of work must be sought out, and this is generally considered a strong point by students: We are free to develop our work without undue influence from instructors if that influence is not desired.

In a reference to the department faculty, Curtis quotes a student as stating, "I was teaching drawing last quarter, and my professor kind of took off." To my knowledge, the only professor who "took off" left on a prearranged sabbatical to travel in Spain. If this constitutes "taking off," then chemistry and English professors certainly do the same. The inclusion of this quote struck me as an invalid attempt to discredit the studio art faculty by including only a portion of the information available about a particular situation. The same holds for the quote, "Most of the teachers, they've been here 20 years, they're dead." This is one student's opinion but is made to appear to be factual. In reality, only three of 17 instructors have been in the department for 20 years and there is actually a good mix of resident and visiting instructors--the resident instructors providing a necessary coherence and the visiting instructors introducing alternative methods and ideas.

A final point I would like to address concerns the anonymous quote that states: "There's the overall feeling the school is a joke. Nobody has any illusions that this is a great, hot program." While that seems to be one student's opinion, I do not think that this is "the overall feeling." Ms. Curtis interviewed all the graduate students. If she received the same information from the majority, she could easily, and with more credibility, have stated that she found this to be the general consensus. By including one student's opinion with such a broad implication, she is, I feel, inaccurately skewing quotes to fit what would appear to be a preconceived, negative tone for the article.

The purpose of this letter is not to offer an angry retort to Curtis' article. I would prefer to ignore the article, knowing from my own experience that this is not an accurate depiction of the studio art program at UCI. After hearing remarks from people outside the department and from non-students, I feel that I cannot simply dismiss the article. The article is a very shallow investigation of the program. This article strikes me as little more than sensationalism. Remarks seem to be included and juxtaposed in such a manner as to incite a reflexive negative reaction. You have done a disservice to those (who are the majority) in the studio art program at UCI who take their work seriously and are supportive of the program, and I feel that this should be brought to your readers' attention.


Corona del Mar

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