The Bruce High Quality Foundation, a semi-anonymous group of young artists, is taking its act on the road this month. For the past five years, the resourceful collective has held workshops, mounted exhibitions (including the “Brucennial”) and run a “university,” all with the aim of empowering artists. For their new Creative Time-sponsored project, Teach 4 Amerika—a riff on the nonprofit education organization Teach for America—members of BHQF will travel across the United States from late March to early May, mounting rallies and events at university art departments, art schools, art institutions and alternative spaces. Scheduled stops include Detroit Soup in Detroit, 1419 and ExCo (Experimental College) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland.
In true BHQF fashion, the project aims to encourage art students to take charge of their own educational experience. The group plans to bring together various elements of the art world—faculty, artists, museum directors and students—to talk about the future of art education and determine what steps are needed to improve it. Rallies will include multimedia presentations (balloons are promised), awards for arts educators and performances and speeches by local groups.
According to Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson, Teach 4 Amerika questions not just skyrocketing tuition costs but the larger social function of education itself. Ever optimistic, he explained, “The critique of the education system has always been at the forefront of momentous historical change.” While BHQF may not provoke a 1968-style revolution in art education, its approach is gaining momentum. The DIY spirit has always been alive and well in the art world, largely out of necessity. The past few years saw a spike in artists and collectives launching projects resembling schools [see A.i.A., Mar. ’10], and now artists can raise funds themselves through such platforms as USA Projects, kickstarter.org, wedidthis.org.uk and wefund.co.uk.
Thompson said in an e-mail that the group’s goal is to demonstrate that “the structure of art education is a construct and the paradigm can be altered.” A BHQF education may not open doors or lead to a teaching job,
but questioning the necessity of that kind of institutional or academic recognition—and the financial debt often incurred in art school—is precisely BHQF’s point.
Photos: left: Bring-Your-Own-University, class participants at Bruce High Quality Foundation University, Tribeca, fall 2009. right: Bruce High Quality Foundation, Rite of Spring, 2009.