Karen Wirth

Left to right: Scott Werner ’17, Stephen Rueff, and Karen Wirth
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November 12, 2018

Dear MCAD Community,

November brings the annual MCAD Art Sale, when literally thousands of artworks will change hands in the course of a few days: from the artists who make and price the works; to the Academic Services staff who check them in, wrap, label, and hang them; to the student workers who help buyers locate a favorite artist’s work on display; to the staff who man the cash registers and help wrap the works; to the buyers who then take them home. At last year's sale, 3,187 artworks found a home. The Art Sale was started in 1998 as a professional development opportunity for students. Since its inception, more than $3 million has gone directly back to the artists from sales of their work.

This is the market side of the sale, the public and most visible aspect. But what about what happens before that? The process from studio to sale is one that has to be learned. For many students, the MCAD Art Sale is the first time they will put a monetary value on their work, something that until then has seemed invaluable. Most art and design students start out making work that pleases themselves, and then family and friends. Positive recognition may lead them to art school, where now that audience widens to faculty and fellow students who support and challenge at the same time.

Trying to identify or define one’s audience is an ongoing fact of being an artist/designer. That requires a distancing of self to become the other, to see one’s work from an unknown other’s perspective. Expanding the audience calls into question who the work is for, what it stands for, and what it means to the artist. Certainly, students gain experience in answering these questions through the critique process, a core teaching and learning tool. “Who is this work for,” is a common query. They begin to imagine that audience, and anticipate being accepted and known through their work rather than by acquaintances. They begin to weigh the risks of how their work will be read, and how far to push or control their messages. And possibly, when to move on to an entirely new audience.

I hope you will come to the Art Sale later this week and know that when you purchase an artwork you are not only supporting that artists’ growth, you have become a meaningful member of that artist’s specific audience. It is a foundation on which they will build throughout their art and design careers.

At this time of Thanksgiving:

  • Thank you to all of you who purchase works and thereby support students’ educational journey.
  • Thank you to the Art Sale sponsors, the businesses and individuals who support MCAD’s mission.
  • Thank you to the staff and students who put in an incredible number of hours to ensure that the sale is well run, efficient, and a great party at the same time.
  • Thank you to the faculty who guide the students daily to help them define what success means to each of them.
  • And thank you to the students, who take the risk of putting their work out there.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Karen Wirth
MCAD Interim President


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