Imagine you're a major research university, with aspirations for rising in the ranks. Everything from your endowment to annual extramural funding dollars can be included in quantifiable metrics you use to measure your progress. But there are other aspects of your impact that can be more difficult to quantify. For example, how good is the history department? How strong is your art school? Clear metrics on those endeavors rarely pop up, but when they do, as in a survey of contemporary artists in a national exhibition, we should take notice:
A national exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is highlighting the work of two alumni and one faculty member from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art.
"State of the Art : Discovering American Art Now," on view through Jan. 19, features more than 100 American artists selected as the result of over 1,000 studio visits by Crystal Bridges curators who traveled the country seeking to discover artists whose work had not yet been recognized nationally.
"A large national exhibition featuring 100 prominent working American artists today provides a terrific survey of the creativity and inventiveness from across the country," said Chris Garvin, director of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. "To have three artists and one curator affiliated with UGA as part of this exhibition is a great distinction that places us at the forefront of artistic practice in the United States."
Just so, professor Garvin. What Crystal Bridges is attempting to do is very ambitious - create a national museum of international renown, deep in the heart of Arkansas - but what our art school is doing is no less ambitious. A very important constituent part of the learning environment in a major research university, a thriving art school would be missing if we didn't have one. But we do.