To maintain an autonomus Enameling Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art

Dear Members of the Board of the Cleveland Institute of Art, We write this letter to request that CIA not eliminate nor merge the Enameling Department with any others at the school, and that the study of Enamel remain as an autonomous major within the school. The Institute is currently reformatting curricula to grow enrollment in the school by revisions to it's Material Culture and Craft Environment. The revision is to merge the Enameling Department with the Jewelry + Metals Department. Enameling at CIA is exceptional,and is the only program in the United States that allows such focus to the art of fusing glass to metal. While the art of enameling incorporates concerns and techniques of painting, metalsmithing, ceramics, glass, design, drawing, printmaking, as well as photo, it would be a shame to assimilate this unique process into another; as it stands alone as an art and process which holds it's own technical demands, vocabulary, considerations, and craft. Any person who is familar to the medium of Enamel knows that there is a wide range of work made within the field, much of which is not a wearable object, which is something very focused on within the Jewelry + Metals studios at C.I.A. It is a shame that instead of trying to support much of what makes C.I.A. so wonderfully unique from all of the other art schools in the country is now being left behind. We understand the need to revise and change in this economy as well as in the artistic world to remain valid, fresh, and competitive. Many of the recent changes that the school has made strikes many alumni as floundering self-confidence. This lack of confidence and disregard for the schools traditions and structure is a blow to the alumni that it fostered. The best way to face slowing enrollment and competition from other institutions is to emphasize what makes the school unique. If the Enameling major is suffering low enrollment the department should be fostered and supported instead of being left to the wayside as an addendum to a larger department. It is a great loss to the field of contemporary craft to fold the Enameling major into another. Sharing classes, facilities and curriculum to an extent is a wonderful idea- currently, Metals and Enameling share many resources. However, it is cautioned against an outright merge with Metals, for instance, because the very structure would limit creative output. Enamel work that is sculptural, large, or on the wall---the work Gretchen Goss is famous for---would be shrunk to a role supporting the metalsmithing stage. As of now, CIA's Enameling program does break boundaries, and great artwork is the result. It has historical caché and contemporary relevance. Why remove this outstanding facet of CIA’s exceptionality In terms of the current artistic climate towards enamel- the trend is turning towards this fascinating medium. Enameling is experiencing a popular resurgence and is being used by more artists than ever before, as witnessed by exposure in publications, international exhibitions, blogs, and websites. Recent publications, like 500 Enameled Objects, the Art of Enameling, and Painting with Fire all prominently feature enamel work by CIA alumni and faculty, many of the featured artists hold a Cleveland connection. While the Enameling Department may historically be small in number of majors, the record of graduates' accomplishments matches or exceeds other majors at the school. It is hoped for the sake of the Institute that this is not just the beginning of many departmental cuts- and that the school will be able to retain it's unique identity of fostering the fine arts, design, and craft without putting one skill set above an other. It's the roundedness of the school that attracts many students to it, and to this day C.I.A. is matchless in teaching students how to make artwork. Our sincerest hope is that C.I.A. prospers in the next 127 years. It is recognized that both the artist and institution are in a continuum of constant change and growth; however, it is viewed by the undersigned as a great misstep for the Board to not see the short-sighted ideas and "quick fix" idea of economic efficiency from stunting the development of the field of enameling; please allow an autonomous Enameling Department to cultivate its the Institute's most unique crop of budding artists. Thanks very much for your time and consideration,

Sponsor

This is sponsored by Alumni of the Cleveland Institute of Art Enameling Department.

Links

If you would like to see work from students of the enameling program at the Cleveland Institute of Art, or write a letter directly to the school about this issue, more information can be found on the school's website. www.cia.edu For more information on Contemporary Enameling visit: http://www.enamelistsociety.org/ http://www.enamelarts.org/ http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/

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