Students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State
University are demanding their own department, after being denied
services and space equivalent to what other art students at their school
According to a faculty member, the A/I students get only 6,000 square
feet of space, while the Fine Art students get 63,000 and won’t share,
despite A/I topping out its enrollment while Art’s enrollment falls.
That’s not all. A/I students are suffering because their
student-to-teacher ratio is higher than Art or Design as well; and in an
effort to keep more from enrolling, they are subjected to a higher
level of GPA - 3.75 - than almost every other department in the
university in order to gain admission to the prestigious and successful
program.It looks like the university is embarrassed to have skilled
workers training under its roof, and is trying to close down the
In the absence of any public statement or explanation as to why the
A/I students are not treated as other art students are, it appears that
the students of the Animation/Illustration program at San José State
University are suffering because the administration and the Art faculty
who control the department have an innate and unexamined prejudice
against illustration and cartoon (A/I instructors are not given a seat
in the decision-making boardroom, according to students in the video).
Such prejudice against commercial arts developed in the late 19th
century and peaked in the 1950s, when it was used to bolster the
modernist New York School elite. In recent decades, scholarly theories
from institutional critique to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital to
theories of popular culture have all demonstrated that the demonization
of illustration was a product of mid-20th-century time and place, when
thinkers such as the Frankfurt School marxists decried commercialism in
art and culture following the devastation wreaked by Nazi propagandists,
the rise of Fordist capitalism and its dark side, the Great Depression.
What adherents to the “culture critique” overlook is that the so-called
non-commercial arts are just as commercialized as illustration, and in
far more insidious ways, being an unregulated market speculated upon by
the world’s wealthiest seeking tax shelters.
While critical analysis of corporate media and popular art is a
necessary component of making a better world through art, disowning a
highly competent program is not the way to do it. San José State
university would be well advised to see the opportunity under their
noses to pioneer Practice-Based Research in the United States.
Sign the petition
to get the Animation/Illustration program its own department, where
they can nurture up creators who will apply good critical thinking
skills along with their studio skills, to make the university proud.