A New Art Institution

By in News on November 12, 2011

Popopstudios ICVA begins offering adult classes

Starting in the new year, those interested in pursuing art or building upon their artistic practice and dialogue can do so at four art classes being offered by Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts.

The move to develop the educational component of the Center comes upon the heels of their recently receiving not-for-profit status as well as status as an International Center for Visual Arts, developing their standing as a community of artists that come together to create and dialogue about their artistic practice in a space that is aware of its standing in the wider regional and international art world.

The idea now, moving forward, explains Director John Cox, is to begin taking steps to develop a comprehensive schedule of classes and make Popopstudios International CVA an art school of sorts to outwardly develop that art community and awareness.

“Since 1999, we’ve been a space that is about the critical aspect of making art, about creating a platform for people to be able to really make work and dialogue about the process and the actual details of the process and discipline, and put it into context throughout the region and the broader conversation,” explains Cox.

“How we achieve that is to focus on exposure and education. Unlike many gallery spaces, our goal is not to sell a lot of art; it’s to inform the public about art production, art history, and art criticism.”

Such an institution would give the public an advanced level of art instruction, especially to those who may want to pursue art classes as an alternative to those offered at the College of The Bahamas, or build upon those classes already taken, or take a class not offered by the institution.

For example, points out Popopstudios Education Officer Katrina Cartwright, one of the classes they’re offering, “Woodworking for Women: Building Boxes” with instructor and local artist-in-residence Margot Bethel, provides instruction in a specialized art subject for a specific audience—which is something not found at the associate’s program in art at the College of The Bahamas.

“There’s not a whole lot of exploration in the arts there because you have to fit so much exploration into just two years,” says Cartwright, who is a part time instructor at COB.

“There are also a few limitations with the programming at COB and I think that those students who are interested in doing other things outside of the institution just don’t have the opportunity.”

It’s also a grand opportunity for local artists to teach part time classes in their field outside of a rigid administrative structure. The classes being offered in this first semester—which besides Bethel’s class also include “The Art of Drawing” with John Cox, “Printmaking: A Beginner’s Look” with Holly Parotti and “Sculpture: Revealing the Portrait” with Katrina Cartwright—feature local artists who are involved in other schools, galleries and administrations coming together to build a community of artistic awareness for their students.

“What I tried to accomplish through this program is to offer opportunities to artists not just through Popop but outside of Popop to come in and act as instructors in the disciplines they work in regularly,” explains Cartwright.

“Ultimately it’s about getting trained professionals to come in and instruct people and get them to learn something more about a discipline or get training they normally wouldn’t get.”

Indeed, this is only the beginning—the plan is to offer more classes each of the three twelve-week semesters per year in a variety of subject matters. As Cox points out, Popopstudios International CVA has connections with other educational institutions—such as the Rhode Island School of Design, George Mason University and soon the University of North Iowa—and hosts several international artists- in-residence per year alongside local artists-in-residence, giving them the potential to offer specialized classes by international teachers.

Not only would this give Popopstudios CVA and Bahamian art and artists international exposure, but also give the Bahamas a louder voice and presence in the international art world.

Yet Cox points out that this development in no way directly competes with or dismisses the art program or art courses offered by the College of The Bahamas—in fact, he hopes it acts as an opportunity to further develop the local conversation about arts into an international one and to include more people in that discussion.

“COB should be encouraged to be a more central part of this contemporary visual conversation,” says Cox, who teaches several art classes at the institution.

“I don’t think we have been much in the past integrated into this conversations to the level we should be. I can understand why with the administrative issues, but the benefit when we do a program like this here is that [we] can make connections, fill gaps for people, and ultimately build a critical mass because everyone’s a part of it, the collective intelligence.”

Indeed, the classes aren’t just for art students—as both Cox and Cartwright point out; no matter the age, one can be a student of art and attend classes at Popopstudios. In this first semester, all classes are either in the evening or on Saturdays to give those from the general public in a 9-to-5 routine the opportunity to pursue a passion or creative outlet. It adds to their already existing children’s art classes that foster a love and appreciation of arts from a young age.

“I think that the best art from the best artists don’t come out of a vacuum, they come out of these communities where there’s a fabric that’s very well-developed in terms of institutions that support the development of these disciplines, and really that’s what we’re trying to do,” says Cox.

For more information on class descriptions, schedules and costs, check out www.popopstudios.com, e-mail popopstudios@gmail.com or call 322-7834.

Sonia Farmer
The Nassau Guardian
Arts & Culture
Published: November 12, 2011

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