The Albright Art Project
To facilitate Albright College's becoming a more culturally oriented community, Student Council decided to purchase a sculpture for the wall of the library. The work chosen is a three-dimensional (8'X14') metal abstract by Tania, a well-known artist who is also affiliated with City Walls, Inc. as a painter.
The sculpture was originally designed for a New York bank, and the first casting will be displayed at that building. Since the piece was "manufactured" at a metals plant, a second casting wa made which was no more expensive than the first. Albright College is purchasing this duplicate work. The project is backed by the combined efforts of Student Council and the college administration. The total allocation is $3,000.
Mr. Dean Kelsey, vice-president of business, commented on the financial side of the art purchase. "The financial aspects of any college questions should be secondary. The primary question should be what is good for the college, that is, what best moves the college towards its goals."
Kelsey was concerned with the cost of the sculpture. He said that both of the works that have been purchased ended up costing more than had been intended. The first of these was "Salute to the Astronauts," the sculpture in the Campus Center, Theater lobby.
Kelsey added, "Art is a subjective thing and there is no way to tell if you have your money's worth or not." He would like to see more student involvement in the selection of works of art so that he can be sure that the student's money is being used more for the benefit of all.
Council President Chris Coombe is excited about the purchase of the sculpture, and she feels this is a big step in making Albright more legitimately a liberal arts college. "A lot of people really don't understand why we want to buy art. People do not believe in the legitimacy of art. It is not 'productive.'" Chris also added that the Council representatives had the opportunity to vote against the project, but did not do so.
The project has no intrinsic theme. Coombe would like to see the students create a theme to make the project meaningful to as many students as possible.
Dean Robert McBride feels that Albright has been behind the times artistically. The college had no art department for a long time, and is just now beginning to catch up. He commented that "nothing has been done for years for the aesthetic atmosphere of the campus. To expose a student to good art is to make he or she aware of value in life as an educated person. They ought to be aware of a dimension of value."
McBride also feels that a student can and should expect, in a small liberal arts college, good art and good taste in curricular and extra-curricular affairs. He would like to see a long-range plan committed to the development of the art department and art on campus. He would like to see more support from the department, the community, and the alumni in obtaining funds for purchasing campus art.
Art professor Harry Koursaros also had much to say on the purchasing of art for the campus. He commented, "We need more of it. We are starting from scratch and we need more if we are to live up to being a liberal arts college and an intellectual community. We have to make up our minds and stop paying lip service to art and culture. We need to admit that there is no place in our value structure for art, or else set aside a reasonable amount of the college budget for the acquisition of works of art. It cannot be both ways.
"It is non-productive to get bogged down in a quagmire of trying to please everyone. There will always be individuals who will be non-responsive or annoyed by any kind of art.
"The art department, although willing and eager to assist and advise when solicited, does not wish to be the 'art czar,'the arbiter of taste for the college."
Costa Mantis agreed with Koursaros and added some other specific comments. Mantis feels that although Albright has started something, this is only a start. He sees Albright as being too preoccupied with brick buildings which are too neat and orderly producing a feeling of sterility. He thinks color is very important in life, and his own personal goal is to put one or two wall paintings on campus buildings before he leaves. He is now a junior.
The creator of the "controversial" piece of art, Tania, visited Albright on Tuesday, November 21. She came specifically to discover the mood of the campus, attend classes, and view the community in order to choose a suitable location for her art.
Tania's impression of the campus was that it produced a feeling of emptiness, She specifically cited the dining hall, saying that it was cold and barren and left one nothing to talk about. She thought that it was impossible for people to grow and communicated under these conditions.
During her visit, she gave a viewing of some of her previous works and held a discussion with students who attended a meeting in the South Lounge. Noting the scant turnout at the meeting she commented, "It is not the students' fault. To see something, it has to relate to something else." She suggested that students should exhibit their own work to help loosen things up.