As MICA continues to implement new programs centering on the business side of artistic practice and new media technologies (just to name a few), some of the school’s beloved departments are falling by the wayside. Case in point: the university’s jewelry fabrication program, which is slated to close in the near future. (A petition opposing the program’s closure is available here.)
The jewelry certificate program at MICA isn’t a full major in the way that painting or sculpture is; instead, it’s a certificate program in MICA’s School for Professional and Continuing Studies. In other words, instead of catering to the school’s undergrad population, it is primarily intended for community members who were interested in “a thorough foundation in traditional and contemporary jewelry making” in order to “produce one-of-a-kind art objects as well as production jewelry.” Classes include things like “Introduction to Stone Setting,” “Welding in Miniature,” and “Advanced Metal Fabrication and Mechanisms.”
In December 2012, however, the school announced that it was no longer accepting new applications to the Jewelry Certificate program — a preliminary step toward shutting it down. “As a nation we’ve lost more than one generation of manufacturing and production jobs. Now for the first time we have a president who values entrepreneurship and is seeking ways to expand our manufacturing base and protect the intellectual property rights of our designers. This is not a time to move away from design professions, it’s a time to expand these programs in every school,” notes Wendy Rosen, a Baltimore-based advocate for American-made crafts. Rosen points out that MICA’s jewelry program is one of the school’s best bridges from education to a viable career in the arts. “Sadly, our nations top art schools are known for graduating artists that are often unemployable. Most of these schools charge 50,000+ annual tuition, creating a student body of elites, with a few scholarships thrown [in]. We have moved away from the idea that anyone can become an artist… to [the idea that] only the children of the wealthy can study art,” she says.
Rosen has joined with MICA professors, former graduates, and other community members to create a petition protesting the jewelry program’s closure. It’s already garnered nearly 800 signatures, but there’s no telling whether that will sway the MICA administrators’ minds.
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