CVA saved my life. I was a confused state school student that knew what I wanted to do, but needed to fit someplace that would work for me. That place was CVA. At the time, it was open, honest, warm, friendly and caring. It was an Art College I could afford. Not a “big box” school where I would get lost at. This College is for kids looking for a quality art education from hard working staff. This is a College with character. It remains the same to this day.
“CVA is closing.”
Since I heard that news, I have been in a state of disbelief. How can this happen? I think these past few weeks have shown to me the power of a community rallying around something they collectively value – creativity. The College of Visual Arts is a part of the Saint Paul community, and has been an option for young artists who want to study in earnest, the one thing that they feel connects them to the world: making stuff. It is an amazing transformation that happens when someone realizes that they can communicate, transform, question, innovate, and participate using a part of their being that society as a whole, devalues. Their individual, unique visual language sometimes is lauded by family and friends, but across the societal spectrum, to study art is “useless”, “selfish” or “unrealistic”.
With an emphasis on ideas, idea generation, creative process and creative concept development, I taught “Ideation” courses (1984-1988) and one semester of “Graphic Design” (1985). I was one of many practicing professionals who were part-time adjunct instructors at the College of Visual Arts, when it was known as the School of the Associated Arts (SAA), Saint Paul. My earliest students were among the first, at what became CVA, to be involved with computer graphics through tours of the Apple® regional offices and COMCEPT Computer Graphics. I was impressed with the creativity, sincerity, talent, dedication, and generally strong work ethic of the students.
This message is for CVA students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, friends and supporters.
Black Mountain College was an amazing school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The school closed in 1957.
See http://www.blackmountaincollege.org and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain_College
Black Mountain College was also featured on PBS’s “American Masters” series. See http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/black_mountain_college.html
Sometimes I wish I could have been a student or teacher there, during certain periods of that College’s history. However it closed when I was seven years old.
During the late 1960s-early 1970s, I feel fortunate to have met Josef Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Buckminster Fuller, and John Cage, among others who were part of Black Mountain College’s history.
I believe that before CVA closes (if and when it closes), it will be important to help preserve its history and legacy. For example, even though Black Mountain College closed after 24 years, its spirit lived on through the legacy of those who taught there and through the influence of its notable alumni. Books have been written about it. Again, for a summary and details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain_College
When CVA’s history is created for posterity, I will be honored to be listed among those who taught there.
Whether CVA continues or not, or reinvents itself, its positive history is important to preserve, its influence and legacy will be important to communicate to the community and future generations, like we can still see the influence of Black Mountain College. Perhaps a related museum and or art center could be established, comparable to, similar to the “Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center” … see www.blackmountaincollege.org.
Those who have studied the history of art and design, those who have studied the biographies and autobiographies of artists and designers, know that the dignity, the talent, of those in creative fields is indomitable, and will often not only survive but flourish in one form or another, whether or not CVA survives this reversal of fortune.
The College of Visual Arts had a balance of everything I was looking for, all wrapped up in a small, charming, friendly, impressive package. Because I took a long winding path before I found my way to CVA, I recognized and appreciated all it had to offer. I first attended a few other schools, but none felt right. I worked full time in unfulfilling jobs. I was lost and not sure of my future. CVA provided the art training and well-rounded education I was seeking. I learned and thrived and discovered my future.
I went to College of Visual Arts (CVA) as a kid right out of high school. I choose it because of the small campus size and the fine arts focused BFA degree. I wasn’t sure what on earth I wanted to do with an “art” degree, but I knew I loved making things. And I liked that CVA wasn’t the slickest or fanciest campus. It seemed like a place for focused art exploration with an amazing faculty. I enrolled with my mother still skeptical. ( I think she was just nervous about sending her son off to do nude figure drawing. ) I embarked on a four year arts journey that taught me fancy words like chiaroscuro and gestalt. I learned about everyone from Hieronymus Bosch to Paul Rand. I even did my nerdy typography-based senior thesis on a fellow named William Dwiggins who designed typefaces for letterpress printing. I graduated with a BFA in Communication Design and a passion for visual culture.
What the College of Visual Arts has built and achieved since its founding many years ago is remarkable. Its programs are top-notch; its faculty are world-class; its students are the cream of the crop. Our community and creative economy have benefited greatly from the influx of talented graduates that have been drawn here because of CVA’s program and faculty. And as a member of that community, I have been both beneficiary of and proud witness to CVA’s contributions over many years. It is my sincere hope that CVA will remain a pillar of the Twin Cities creative community for many years to come.
Like so many of my design community peers, I am devastated to learn of the planned closing of the College of Visual Arts. During a multi-year professional partnership with CVA, I helped to strategize and promote the successful CVA Leaders of Design Series. During that time I developed a fondness for the organization, as well as recognition of the outstanding design education offered by the school’s Graphic Design Chair/AIGA Fellow, John DuFresne; the superior gallery exhibition work by Rosemary Kimball; the well-organized marketing campaigns of Demeri Mullikin; the persistent recruiting and admissions efforts of Elyan Paz; and the co-curation of traveling exhibitions by adjunct faculty member Kolean Pitner.
Growing up in rural Minnesota, going to “art school” wasn’t something that was done. You maybe went to a University that had an art program, but art school’s just weren’t something you would consider.
In the fall of 1998 I decided to take a risk and visit a couple of these art schools I’d managed to find online. I made the trip up to visit two of them in the same day, and after being told to “come back when I was serious about pursuing art” by one, we nearly turned around and drove home after pulling up to see the next school was merely a house on Summit Ave in St. Paul. Something felt right, though, and we decided to go inside. Almost instantly I fell in love with the building and the community within and around the school became very apparent. I couldn’t sign the dotted line fast enough.
I graduated from SAA* in 1970. The smaller class sizes, and teacher response to the students had a feeling of an understanding of the technical and personal development of the student. With the education came a need to be responsible for monetary needs. Many had summer jobs that helped develope their skills.
*Note: The College of Visual Arts used to be named School of Associated Arts –Editor
CVA is the scrappy, underdog art school in Saint Paul. Our students, like CVA, are quirky, resourceful, and imaginative. They love the extended family feel of this unique college and the first class education they receive.
Skillful teachers, engaged students, and a rigorous curriculum combine in a supportive setting to develop the critical thinkers and creative problem solvers of tomorrow. Although CVA’s facilities aren’t fancy, its teachers (most of whom are practicing professionals with deep ties to the Twin Cities creative community) have high expectations and instill a “we can do it” spirit that reaches both the heads and the hearts of CVA’s students.