Georgetown's Lost Art
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 03:01
One academic department at Georgetown has gained campus notoriety lately for being a far cry from state of the art.
Roughly 20 undergraduates in each graduating class choose to major in art, art history or art and museum studies. The problem for these students — besides having to overcome the pervasive underappreciation of their area of study on campus — is the dismal state of Georgetown’s art department. The university, simply by the virtue of offering visual arts as a major, has a responsibility to provide interested students with the necessary resources to make the study of art up to the standards of academic excellence at Georgetown.
The department is currently confined to four studio spaces, a smattering of faculty offices and classrooms — only one of which has a working projector — and one sculpture room. The department’s space is inconveniently split between the fourth floor and basement of Walsh Building.
The art department’s dramatic lack of campus space limits its ability to offer a wider range or larger quantity of courses. Course options each semester have limited capacity for this same reason. There is simply not enough space or easels to accommodate more students per class, let alone offer more classes. And although some would argue the dearth of facilities is appropriate in light of the seemingly low level of student interest, the rapid registration to capacity for each art class every semester is evidence to the contrary.
The quality of the studios themselves adds additional insult to injury. Classrooms are rundown and decrepit, with cracked paint peeling off the walls. Fiberboards, which take up entire walls in the four studios and feature students’ artwork, have grayed with age. And while it is fair to note that some of the damage, like charcoal smears, is standard wear and tear for a space dedicated to artistic activity, one wonders if the damage would have gone this long without repair if the classrooms served any other academic program at Georgetown.
Offering a major provides a tacit endorsement of the subject’s merit. Students interested in the visual arts may be relatively small in number, but they deserve to have their academic pursuits respected and resourced by the university.