Portfolio classes overlooked

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Portfolios are the first date of the art world. They are an introduction to creative people and a peek at their talent.

Universities, art institutes and employers use portfolios to decide on admissions, exhibitions and employment. Portfolios are glimpses into an artist’s mind and soul.

Ideally, art students at Southwestern College would be able to develop their portfolios while studying at much lower costs than private institutions. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The only portfolio class at SWC is offered sporadically. Art 197, Professional Practices of Portfolio Development for Visual Arts, is a hit-and-miss affair. More often it misses.

EOPS counselor Samone Sayasenh said portfolios are essential for art students and encouraged the college to offer Art 197 every semester.

“It is a requirement for art majors, so the assumption would be that it should be offered at least every semester so that students can have that practical knowledge,” she said. “It would be nice for the counselors to know if they are going to offer Art 197 or not.”

Portfolios are the gateway to express artistic visions. Art students are required to present a portfolio when enrolling or transferring to a university program or art institute. Yet it seems that art faculty and administration are not taking this fundamental class seriously.

Professor of Visual Arts Perry Vasquez said portfolios are critical elements of transfer for art students.
“They are a component of your application,” he said. “They probably say as much or more about you than any other element of your résumé package.”

Transfer students need a portfolio to demonstrate what type of work interests them, where their talents lie, what materials they have experience with and their breadth of knowledge in order to potentially enroll in higher-level classes.

SWC art classes are diverse – ranging from the basics, such as drawing and painting, to more involved courses, such as printmaking, ceramics, sculpture and metalwork. There are also fundamental courses, such as an introduction to art and art history. A portfolio class should also be considered fundamental. Like painting, sculpting, and graphic art, the art of creating a great portfolio is something that requires a knowledge of the history, culture, and effective practices of the medium. Portfolios are not glorified scrapbooks, they are vessels of art – and are themselves art.

Without the proper instruction, young artists at Southwestern College cannot compete with students from other colleges or high schools. They become second-class citizens in the competitive world of transfer.

Sports programs, no matter how low performing they are, rarely face the danger of being cut. Yet creative and performing arts programs are always the first to be discarded, no matter how successful they are. Many more art students find careers as professionals after SWC than athletes do.  SWC has zero alumni in the NFL and NBA, but tens of thousands working in creative fields.

In this 21st century, America’s game-changing innovators in technology and entertainment are creative. America’s richest citizens are most often artists. Since the Renaissance, the enlightenment of humankind has come through its art.

Technology has launched a new era of creativity. SWC administrators need to read Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future.” A generation of creative people are revolutionizing all ways of life. It is time for Southwestern College to get on board.

Micajah Truitt, professor of photography and digital imaging, said there has to be more communication between faculty and counselors.

“Historically, there has not been,” he said. “(We need to) get students to realize they can ask questions of their instructors, find answers, ask about anything and open those daily conversations.”

One portfolio class per semester will not bankrupt this college. There seems to be a dump truck load of money for vice president raises, new administrators, fancy football stadiums and lawyers.

Art students suffer because our college is falling down on its job. Instead of hindering the students in this college, SWC administrators should rise to the challenge of this creative age and provide art students the opportunities to compete in the 21st century.

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