I went to Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Bloomfield, Michigan, for a time, attempting to get a graduate degree in art.
The place had a glorious past, having been designed, built and presided over by Eliel Saarinen, one of the pre-eminent architects of his day. He hired incredible artists and designers to staff his Academy and it flourished in the middle of the 20th century.
By the time I got there in 1980 the original professors and creative impetus was gone, and in it’s place were many fine artists, both teachers and students, living under the shadow of the history that the institution touted constantly.
It was nice to feel a part of a glorious history. But it was oppressive and debilitating as well, since it was understood that they glory was in the past for the Academy and we weren’t about to bring it back. Not that we felt that way, but the President and board and patrons seemed to at the time and that attitude worked its way down through the ranks.
What past are you relying on? Is it keeping you under a shadow, even underground?
Drawing by Marty Coleman of the Napkin Dad Daily blog.
Quote by Thomas Overbury, 1581-1613, English Poet. Protagonist in a great royal scandal. Read about it here.