NYSID’s Vice President and Dean travels to Beijing to shed light on art education

Tell us more about the China President’s Symposium.
The International Art Education Conference was in celebration of CAFA's centennial birthday. The three day conference included the presentation of five forums, of which the President’s Forum was the most prestigious and hosted by CAFA President Fan Di’an and other notable educators. Each attendee was a president or vice-president or dean of an international school of art or design, and I was honored to represent the New York School of Interior Design. Notable attendees at the Presidents Forum included the presidents of the Glasgow School of Art, the dean of the school of art and design of the University of New South Wales, the president of the San Francisco Art Institute, and the provost of RISD. Each school was given 15-minutes to present an overview of their institution and art/design programs.

What was NYSID’s involvement?
As a small single-focus institution, NYSID brought a unique viewpoint to the table. As the college's representative, I made a presentation at the Presidents Forum on the essential nature of interior spaces to human thinking and fulfillment. My talk was entitled, "Interior Design: The Essential Profession," playing off of the name of the NYSID 2016 Symposium of the same name.

How will these efforts benefit the College?
For NYSID, the importance of the event was to have a seat at the table, to be recognized as a leader in design education, and to connect with international colleagues, practitioners, and institutions. This event will be held again in a modified form in the years to come, and undoubtedly, NYSID will be invited. Aside from that, we made connections to important people at other schools, and hope to create international study opportunities for our students in the coming years.

Why do you think the past decade saw a considerable increase in the number of Chinese audiences at art museums and galleries and in art and art-related courses?
The Chinese have a great desire to understand other cultures through their art. China has a long, long history of fine and decorative arts, completely bound up with its spiritual, cultural, and social values. They understand that the art of a nation or culture is a window into understanding that nation's world view and character. In China, visiting museums or important historical sites is a way of honoring their heritage and coming to understand their past. Many Chinese live outside of their country, and they are comfortable in the activity of viewing art as recreation and as education.

What are your views on how to make a better world through art education?
Over the years, I have experienced art and the love of artistic expression as a point of mutual connection across cultures. Students from many places make connections in their long hours in the studio, working side by side on projects, working collaboratively at times and at others, expressing their individual creativity. When people can find a common or shared love, such as through art and design, barriers disappear and the world becomes a better place. Different cultures have different restrictions on personal expression, even through art, but I believe that those restrictions are imposed from outside. If left to express themselves freely, artists and designers would have no barriers between them.

Phyllis Greer