180520 Are Emeralda and IPCI the same?
Daily I visit the ten glass beads on my personal website and choose one of the “islands-of-domains-of-expertise” to see where I left off on the design of Emeralda Region. Emeralda was going to be my ticket to fame. Emeralda was supposed to restore my place in the education world. It was supposed to prove my hypothesis that printmaking is a portal to understanding art and technology.
Extracting from the success stories of my former students and focusing not only on their art. In addition to their innate skills, I focused also on what I observed were their skills in ten domains-of-expertise. It took some doing, but I managed to twist their bonus talents and perceived interlocking pretzels of domains. Finally I made up islands where these domains were pre-eminent features of cultural assets.
There are ten imaginary islands. What remained for me, for the rest of my life, was travel among these islands. I made a schedule. To give myself time to reflect about printmaking and its place in higher education, I fabricated a prize, the Gates Prize for Exemplary Teaching, Research, Practice and Service.
The Gates Prize (named for Elmer Gates, a neuroscientist born in the 19th Century who practiced this branch of medicine before there was a name for it) was what I imagined I might have won if my career had not been cut short in 1984. Readers may be reminded of Orwell’s world, and it was a fact in my time at the UW.
Peter Bloom, in his book, Closing the American Mind, wrote about that period. It was the mid-1980s when higher education entered a depression; I lived it, and my development died then. From a distance I watched as my former teaching province was deconstructed and I was erased from its history by one who replaced me. I escaped from a dire situation; not so the rest of the American education institutions. For three decades and counting, I have lived as castaway.
However, my life raft is well-equipped, thanks to the lessons I learned from my college teachers students at the UW. For example, in one of my experiments I proposed that video could serve artists and I established a video art course. In the class we practiced teamwork, free exchange of ideas and performance art. A casual remark about Herman Hesse’s novel, Magister Ludi: The glass bead game, led me to the idea of using glass beads as playing-pieces in a table-top version of Emeralda.
Trivial things like this is what I believe higher education was all about. If my career had not been cut short by the internecine politics at the UW School Of Art, Washington State would have, today, something like my vision of the International Print Center and Incubators, IPCI, a Seattle asset.
On the other hand, the fact that the students didn’t realize that those trivial things were the acorns from which might oaks could grow underscores the fact that, in a perfect studio, where teaching, research, practice and service were happening all at the same time, all under one roof, it isn’t clear what good can come from the interaction of teachers and students. Not until there is proof.
Instead, what occurred was proof that mediocrity at high levels trickles down. Cynicism takes the place of contemplation and testing of hypothesis, narrow-mindedness and fear prevail. Therefore, better that IPCI not be part of a corrupted institution.
If the UW had kept me and allowed my plan to re-define printmaking along the lines of its root in other technologies, eventually the culture of university politics would have resulted in an IPCI with UW ties so intertwined that the inevitable rigidity and ignorance would have made the oak tree rot at its core.
To wit, the model I called the Granger Clay Products Campus in Central Washington was inspired by Dale Chihuly’s Pilchuck Glass School and The Evergreen State College’ founding. Where I thought a skunkworks media arts center would be state-supported, Dale’s idea was privately-supported. Pilchuck (and Dale) succeeded because of business acumen in its sponsors’ attunement to the creative economy and, consciously or not, the principle of the wealth of nations.
What does this teach me? An IPCI must be a business, a corporation designed to make a profit. Its parts must enable its participants to realize their dreams in the same way that I accidentally helped my students realize theirs. The architecture I drew up for Emeralda is morphing into a basket of eggs, each egg representing a hypothetical business in which artistically-inclined people can succeed.
In this sense, my Emeralda has become the International Print Center and Incubators, so named as a marketing device but an Artrepreneurial school, a training center for franchises which monetizes printmaking in ways beyond making prints. It teaches a hybrid of the creative economy and the experience economy about which has been written by authors John Howkins (The creative economy is a powerful engine of growth and community vitality. Together, artists, cultural nonprofits, and creative businesses produce and distribute cultural goods and services that generate jobs, revenue, and quality of life. A thriving cultural sector leads to thriving communities”) and Pine & Gilmore (consumers unquestionably desire experiences, and more and more businesses are responding by explicitly designing and promoting them).