January 11, 2015
To [Art School Name Deleted], Office of Admissions:
I have been an Adjunct Professor of Art at Corcoran College of Art + Design for 11 years and during those years I have often wondered why I teach art. Adjunct faculty salary is subsistence level at best, there are no benefits and we have virtually no voice in how our school is run. But there are those rare students now and then who can sometimes provide a revelation to us teachers of how empowering and rewarding arts education can be. Whenever I do encounter such a student as X-X, with sheer creative verve and intellectual ability, I am glad that I keep coming back to these studios and lecture halls.
X was a former student of mine in two of my art theory courses at the Corcoran, Art as Social Practice in Fall 2013 and Postconceptualism in Spring 2014. Clearly, X has a passion and boundless curiosity for contemporary art and artists. During this time, I came to know X as a student with an inquisitive mind who was receptive to complex theoretical concepts such as appropriation, site-specific sculpture and relational aesthetics. In the often-intimidating classroom discussions, X’s energetic and productive contributions were most welcome. Moreover, X wasn’t opposed to listening with an open mind to differing points of view, which is invaluable for promoting enlightening discourse. He also displayed strong academic writing and research skills in equal measure in his essay assignments for both of my art theory courses.
In his senior year at Corcoran, X developed an intelligent body of work involving installation and sculpture. It was immediately apparent to me that he had clearly combined his understanding of complex art theoretical issues he had studied with his own practical application of the multiple media of object making. I was also present during X’s “BFA Thesis Project” critique and his piece was a highlight of the 2014 “NEXT” exhibition at Corcoran Gallery. Later that same year, I was able to curate one of X's works into my Readymade@100 show at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.
In conclusion, I would like to include a couple of quotes from X’s email request to me for a recommendation because what he says about art education and what my courses meant to him exactly express why I am recommending him to you:
“In my years at The Corcoran I experienced the joy of learning under many professors, almost all of which made lasting impressions on how I approach my practice and how I understand works which I observe. Out of all of those professors and instructors I believe that you and the courses I took under your instruction have made most of the strongest impressions of all. The concepts which we discussed and explored in both ‘ASP’ and ‘PostConceptualism’ have really helped me to understand how I can manipulate materials beyond their physical nature and provide them with a new identity, given the context of the presentation.”
What strikes me about the connection that X makes between what he learned and how he uses it is his comprehension of the essential relationship between theory and practice. To read such thoughts, articulately expressed at such an age by a student, is nothing short of remarkable and this is why I continue to teach. X then further described his current work and this even more accurately conveys his grasp of the association between theory and practice:
“My objective is to re-contextualize certain objects, ones which truly fascinate and intrigue me, and place them in scenarios which provide the viewer with a newly found recognition of the object's potential, identity, and presence through the notion of desire. I believe that much of my intrigue and inspiration is built on a foundation of the practices and concepts we discussed in both courses you instructed.”
As such, I feel that it is of paramount importance that [Art School Name Deleted] accept students like X into your program: he will be a beneficial and rewarding educational experience for your professors as well as a valued peer to his fellow students. X-X would be an exemplary addition to the MFA program in Sculpture at [Art School Name Deleted] for Fall 2015 and I strongly endorse his application.
Should you require further information or conversation, please feel free to contact me via [Cell Number Deleted].
Mark Cameron Boyd
Adjunct Professor of Art