Art Treasures at CSUMB

What does California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) have in connection with Ansel Adams, Eleen Auvil, Jamie Brunson, Charles Eckhart, Amy Ellingson, Joel Gambord, Barry Masteller, Chiura Obata and Alison Stilwell? These individuals are all artists of at least one of the current 52 pieces of art donated – or on long-term loan – to CSUMB. The two-tier collection is overseen by two committees, the University Art and the Student Art Committees, chaired by Dean Ilene Feinman of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The committees are “both intended to facilitate the university vision of art and its realization through a professional vetting process that is outlined in the two policies,” stated Feinman. “CSUMB has built our policy on acquisition of art to reflect the University’s commitment to the principles, goals and ideals described in the Vision Statement and to its core values,” continued Feinman. “I am honored to facilitate this process for the university and rely on my committees in both instances to provide the art practice and art history expertise for our deliberations and recommendations to the President.“

There are five principles – supported by the recommendations of the International Council on Museums and the American Association of Museums – that guide the committees in their recommendations for acquisition of art into the CSUMB collection:

  • Artistic excellence: The artwork should be of sufficiently high artistic merit, usually a unique piece by an artist of established reputation or recognized potential.
  • Scope of collection: Priority is given to California artists.
  • Appropriateness for the site and university setting: The artwork must support the educational mission and/or be of special interest to the CSUMB community.
  • Durability and non-hazardous nature of the materials: The artwork must comply with applicable codes and regulations.
  • Maintenance requirements: CSUMB is able to give proper care and maintenance to the artwork.

In addition to its policy on acquisition, art has always been an integral part of CSUMB’s academic footprint. The Visual Public Arts Department (VPA) will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, as it was established at the founding of the university. Currently staffed with ten instructors, hundreds of students have graduated as VPA majors and thousands have enrolled in courses which range from drawing and painting to sculpture and video as art. “We are proud of our cultural entrepreneurship model that nurtures the development of future leaders within the visual and public art areas of social practice and community engagement,” stated Angelica Muro, Chair of the VPA Department and Associate Professor, Integrated Media & Photography.

The role of art on university campuses is part of an on-going national conversation to either view art as a purely academic subject and/or a teaching tool or in another role. There is an 18th century American tradition reportedly starting with Thomas Jefferson, that if one does not create an inspiring, beautiful place, learning doesn’t take place as effectively. The mission of VPA, as stated on their website, is to “provide students with a lifelong set of skills that synthesize studio and community arts approaches to artistic production, exhibition, and education.”

Not favored with multi-million dollar endowments that has graced some of our larger private and public universities, CSUMB students and faculty have leveraged their resources and used their talents and expertise to enrich the local communities. To view a treasure trove of student projects, visit https://www.visualandpublicart.com.

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