The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture is a place for artists to live and work. It is in Madison, Maine, near Skowhegan. Every year, from November to January, the programme accepts online applications from new artists, and from those, 65 are chosen to participate in the nine-week intensive summer programme. The decisions about who gets in are made in April. The school gives students a place to live, food, and studio space. The campus also has a library, a media lab, and a sculpture shop, among other things. (Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture – Wikipedia, 1946)
The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture has two shorter sessions for smaller alumni groups. This allows alumni to return to campus and help celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary. Skowhegan is one of the only U.S. schools to teach the ancient art of fresco and is an incubator for many artists of colour. Skowhegan’s leadership has featured people of colour, including Laylah Ali, Pope.L., Whitfield Lovell, Shinique Smith, and Hank Willis Thomas. (The Renowned Skowhegan Art School Took This Summer as an Opportunity to Do Something New: Invite Graduates Back to Class, 2021)
History of the Skowhegan School of Painting
During World War II, Willard C. Cummings, a portrait painter from New England, was sent to Alaska as part of the War Art Unit. There, he told Sidney Simon, a sculptor in the unit, about his idea for a way to teach “where young artists could study with the best artists of the time.” When Cummings came back from the war in 1946, he got help from Simon, Henry Varnum Poor, who was already well-known in American art, and Charles Cutler, who was a stone sculptor from New England. Cummings converted his family farm into an academy run by artists for artists with their assistance. As the name suggests, Skowhegan used to focus on traditional art forms like painting and sculpture. Over time, though, the programme started to accept artists of all kinds, and Douglas Leichter and Richard Saba are said to have made the first modern Land Art piece there in 1968.
In the same way, the school used to have classes like “life drawing” and “painting in the open air.” However, it eventually got rid of all traditional ways of teaching except for weekly faculty lectures, and now all classes on campus are self-directed by the students. The programme has always included fresco instruction, though. Skowhegan is one of the few places in the U.S. that still teaches this method. From 2010 to 2019, N. Sean Glover was the fresco teacher. In 2019, Oscar Rene Cornejo took over.
Since 1952, Skowhegan has been recording the lectures that both resident and visiting artists on the faculty live on campus. They now make up an archive of over 700 lectures that artists and researchers can access at places like the Colby College Museum of Art, the Archives of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Research Institute, and the Museum of Modern Art. (Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture – Wikipedia, 1946) The archive provides a unique insight into the creative process and the evolution of contemporary art, as well as the history of Skowhegan itself. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in art education, artistic practice, or cultural history.
The future looks promising.
The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture was able to raise $21 million so it could help more young artists. The Acquavella Sculpture Shop, the Helen Frankenthaler Studio, the Gund Dining Hall, the Moffett/Gober Sculpture Pavilion, the Pollock-Krasner Ceramics Studio, and the Kippy Stroud Cottage were all renovated or built from scratch. (Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Raises More Than $21 Million, 2023)
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture – Wikipedia. (1946, January 1). Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture – Wikipedia. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skowhegan_School_of_Painting_and_Sculpture
The Renowned Skowhegan Art School Took This Summer as an Opportunity to Do Something New: Invite Graduates Back to Class. (2021, August 24). Artnet News. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://news.artnet.com/art-world/skowhegan-75th-anniversary-2001894
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