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conference logoThe Thirtieth Annual
National Conference on Liberal Arts
and the Education of Artists 

Why Study Art?


Keynote speaker: Mark Salmon, Ph.D., formerly Vice President for Academic Affairs, Kansas City Art Institute. He is author of Career Opportunities in the Visual Arts

Keynote Address: Creative Renewal for Scholarship

Conference dates:  October 12-14, 2016

PlaceWarwick New York Hotel, New York City

May 23:  200-word proposal and publication-ready 50-word abstract due

July 11:  $75.00 non-refundable deposit due, applicable to the registration fee

September 30:  $295.00 registration fee due. Student registration fee: $175.

Shrinking art budgets in K-12 and scandalous college debt from majoring in non-STEM disciplines confirm suspicions: the visual arts and their shabby cousins, the liberal arts, don’t merit the risk.  A better plan is promoted by the savvy market economy: self-directed and distance learning offer radical—and affordable—alternatives. Students with initiative can blog and self- publish online and take online writing and drawing courses. If they are very persistent, they can read art history (psychology, sociology, history and literature), use inexpensive supplies and older versions of software programs, network at gallery openings and poetry readings and find mentors who are interested in their work—and not just in them.

But the truth is that most youth need guidance and structure, and art school offers tantalizing bright possibilities: an intellectual, creative and professional community; intense and exciting exchange of ideas; self-discovery and experimentation; knowledgeable and professional faculty; access to equipment and studio space; networking and internships; status; marketable degrees; a shortened learning curve; a time to grow up. Delight. 

This conference will provide a forum to discuss the purpose and meaning of attending an art school: values versus value; becoming an artist—painter, writer, illustrator, designer— in four years; the increasing academic and commercial focus of studies; the integration of the humanities in art programs; teaching practices (traditional vs flipped classrooms or student-centered teaching); proliferation and micro-focusing of art disciplines; curricular standardization; the studio, scholarship and creative renewal. Suggested reading: “Critics Page” David Salle, Ed.  The Brooklyn Rail (December 2015/January 2016)                                                  

Please forward abstract and proposal to Laurie Johenning, conference coordinator, Humanities and Sciences Department, 209 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 or by email: [email protected].

For more information, contact Dr. Maryhelen Hendricks, conference director, [email protected], 212-592-2625.


Proposals: The conference's mission is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the role of the liberal arts in the education of artists. Proposals are not juried, though they are judged on the basis of fulfilling the conference mission. Prospective participants are invited to submit proposals for individual presentations or for panel discussions (organized by the participant).

Interdisciplinary topics may also be proposed, for example: the role of liberal arts in the education of artists; art programs in a university context; art students; teaching; academic areas (e.g., art history, sociology, history, psychology); art education; administrative issues; curriculum; research assessing the value of the liberal arts in the education of artists.

Background information about the conference: Each year, since 1987, the Humanities and Sciences Department of the School of Visual Arts hosts a two-day, interdisciplinary, academic conference focusing on issues that concern both liberal arts and studio teachers of artists. The conference's mission is to provide a national forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the role of the liberal arts in the education of artists. Presenters are artists, instructors and administrators in public and private art colleges, universities and other institutions that have an interest in educating artists. The topics and keynote speakers of previous conferences have included:

2015: ART IS ....
Keynote speaker: Carter Ratcliff, contributing editor of Art in America, is the author of many books including Out of the Box: The Reinvention of Art, 1965-1975; The Fate of Gesture Jackson Pollock and Postwar American Art: Andy Warhol Portraits and Arrivederci, Modernismo, a book of poetry as well as his first novel, Tequila Mockingbird.

2014: WHAT SHOULD AN ART SCHOOL BE (whither or wither the arts and humanities)?
Keynote speaker: Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, Director of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor at Columbia University.

Keynote speaker: Bettina Funcke, author of Pop or Populus: Art between High and Low (Sternberg Press, 2009) is an independent writer and member of the faculty in the Masters Program of Critical Theory and the Arts, School of Visual Arts. She has published widely in contemporary art journals and artist monographs. She recently edited 100 Notes—100 Thoughts, the dOCUMENTA (13) publication series.

Keynote speaker: Bill Beckley, an artist whose work is shown internationally and in collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, The Guggenheim, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Tate Gallery as well as The Daimler Collection and Hoffman Collection. He is author of M-Memoir (Onestar Press) and editor of Uncontrollable Beauty and Sticky Sublime (Allworth Press and Visual Arts Press) and member of the faculty in the Humanities and Sciences Department of the School of Visual Arts.

2011: Crossing the Borders.
Keynote speaker: Noel Carroll is Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City College of New York, author of On Criticism and Art in Three Dimensions, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and past president of the American Society for Aesthetics.  

2010: Green, Greener, Greenest: Romancing Nature Again.
Keynote speaker: Paola Antonelli is Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA and member of the faculty, MFA Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts.

2009: Visions of War: the arts represent conflict 
Beginning with a two-day academic conference in which 100 papers were presented, the three-day event featured a live performance of Jack Gilhooley's, The Warrior; a BFA Photography Department panel: "Social Change, Conflict and a New Photographic Paradigm;" an MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department screening of Brian Palmer's Full Disclosure; a BFA Film and Video Department screening of four films depicting a soldier's life "After the Wars," followed by a panel discussion, "The Scars of War: Healing Through the Arts."

2008: Design, the Arts and the Political: images and words that propagate and dissent
Keynote speaker: Steven Heller, author of Iron Fists Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State. He is co-founder with Lita Talarico of the MFA Designer As Author program and co-founder with Alice Twemlowof the MFA in Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts.

2007: Art Education, Religion and the Spiritual.
Keynote speaker: James Elkins, author of On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art.

2006: Reassessing the Modern, Modernity and Modernism.
Keynote speaker: Robert Storr, Rosalee Solow Professor of Modern Art.

2005: In the Global World: American Art and Art Education 
Panelists: D. Elaine A. King, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University;
Daniel Fischer, Professor, Academy of Art, Slovakia;
Dr. Edit Andras, Senior Research Fellow, Research Institute of Art History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest; 
Dr. Janos Sturcz, Assistant Professor, Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest

2004: Art and Story
Keynote Speaker: David Carrier, Champney Family Professor of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art.

2003: The Educated Artist
Keynote Speaker: David Rhodes, President, School of VISUAL ARTS.

2002: Art Remembers
Keynote Speaker: Barbara Maria Stafford, art historian and the William B. Ogden distinguished service professor at the University of Chicago.

2001: The Arts and the Spiritual
Keynote Speaker: Donald Kuspit, art critic, writer and professor of art history and philosophy.

2000: Metamorphoses 2000 Expressive Technology, Art & the Humanities
Keynote Speaker: Jaron Lanier, musician, artist, writer, and lead scientist, National Tele-Immersion Initiative, Internet2 Central Laboratory

1999: How Art Shapes Culture and Shapes Meaning
Keynote Speaker: Dave Hickey, art critic; author of The Invisible Dragon and Air Guitar

1998: Rethinking Tradition: Educating the Artist for the 21st Century
Keynote Speaker: Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The New Yorker

1997: Art at the Millennium
Keynote Speaker: Jules Feiffer, political cartoonist


The following links point to files that are in PDF format. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, click here to download it. It's free.



Proposal Submissions Questions:

(1) Question: Can you send me an example of a successful abstract and proposal from the past, or guidelines?
Answer: There is no unique formula. I am looking for a 50-word, thesis-driven statement (an abstract) about the core of your topic. I also request a 200-word proposal in case I need more information. While the abstract is eventually published in the Program, the proposal is relegated to the archives. Once all abstracts have arrived, I arrange them into sessions. A successful abstract will combine some threads of the focus topic with the agenda of the conference itself (the connections between the visual and the liberal arts). This is a non-juried conference, so if your interests match ours, you will be accepted.

(2) Question: I am interested in submitting a proposal for an open session on a focused topic. Could you explain "open session" to me? Are there a number of submitters having a discussion, or does each presenter give a paper? How does this work?
Answer: An "open session" refers to one session of presenters whose papers are on the same, or allied, topic. Generally there are three presenters per session, occasionally four, rarely two. I arrange all sessions, unless there is a specific request for a group to create a pre-arranged panel, that is, with a few exceptions, I do not create panels.

(3) Question: Once a proposal is submitted, what is the process by which it is accepted or rejected?
Answer: Once a proposal is submitted, it is generally accepted, provided it conforms to the agenda of the conference. This is a non-juried conference. Once all abstracts and proposals have arrived on my desk, I arrange them into sessionsunless a panel has been proposed and arrives already complete with panelists and presider, then I supply a time, day and a room.

(4) Question: Do I need to express an interest in a particular session when I submit a proposal?
Answer: No, you do not need to choose a specific session. Once all abstracts have arrived, I arrange them into open sessions. An "open session" refers to a session of presenters whose papers are on the same, or allied, topics. (For example, a proposed paper on teaching geometry to art students could be placed in a session on math, or on teaching, or on computer graphics and education, depending on what other topics arrive with a similar interest.)

(5) Question: Do you have more information concerning the conference, number of participants, how the schedule is broken down?
Answer: The best way to get additional information is to contact Maryhelen Hendricks, Conference Director, (212 592-2625; email:[email protected]) or Laurie Johenning, (212 592-2624; email:[email protected]).
Generally, the number of participants varies each year, running from approximately 90 to 140, depending on topic and school budgets. Presenters present in concurrent sessions (four rooms are used at a time) in the Warwick Hotel from Thursday morning until late Friday afternoon. The number of sessions varies from 30 to 36. Thursday afternoons are reserved for the Keynote Address.

Questions About Presiding:

(1) Question: I would like to preside over a session but am not sure what this means. Would you please explain?
Answer: First, thank you for considering this position, which contributes to the smooth running of the individual sessions. A Presider introduces each presenter and makes sure that each presentation stays within the 20-minute maximum time frame. At the end of the presentations, the Presider will coordinate the question & answer period. Basically, it is the Presider's task to keep things moving andin an emergencyto notify the assistants that there is a problem (with AV, with noise, etc.)

(2) Question: I have been accepted as a Presider. At some point before the conference will the presenters send me a copy of their papers? Is it my responsibility to communicate with presenters regarding receipt of their papers? Of course, I want to read them before I preside over the session.
Answer: Each participant in your session has an abstract published online (under "Conference Program" within the Conference section itself). You are not required (or even expected) to contact them. However, you may, if you wish, ask Laurie Johenning to send you a photocopy of their proposals, which will give you more information and insight and/or contact information. Many Presiders seek out the presenters in their session during the conference before the specific sessions begin to discuss how they would like to be introduced.

Questions about attending the Conference:

(1) Question: I am interested in attending. Is it necessary to submit a proposal or abstract, or can one attend because one is interested in the Conference topic?
Answer: Yes, we would be very happy to have you attend the conference as an observer. Most participants are also presenters, but each year a small percent (approx. 15 - 20%) of participants come for one or several sessions to gather information, network, talk with their peers, etc.

(2) Question: I'm applying for a travel grant. I need to know approximately the cost of lodging and meals. While the conference flyer makes clear the registration fee, it doesn't include these other items. Are conference participants expected to stay at the New York Marriott East Side Hotel; and, if so, is there a special room rate? Are some meals included in the conference registration?
Answer: The Conference registration fee includes the following meals and receptions: Wednesday night Welcoming Hour, Thursday night Reception after the Keynote Speaker. Continental breakfast and lunch on both Thursday and Friday. With this in mind, the costs for attending the conference will include the Registration fee, hotel fee, transportation costs and additional meals. The Warwick Hotel does offer a special rate for Conference attendees you may choose to stay elsewhere if you wish. When you submit your deposit, we will also inquire if you would like to share a room with another attendee. We do not make these arrangements, however we will distribute a list with contact information.

Registration questions:

(1) Question: I have four faculty who I would like to send to your October Conference (at least one of them is planning on submitting a proposal for a presentation). How would I go about registering my folks? Will there be a registration form, or can I simply reserve spots for them?
Answer: Whether you come as an observer or presenter it is necessary to contact my assistant, Laurie Johenning either by phone (212-592-2624) or email (ljohenning @sva.edu). She will send each one a registration form. If you wish to make a presentation, a 50-word publication ready abstract and a 200-word proposal should be sent to me.
I am looking for a 50-word, thesis-driven statement about the core of the proposed topic. I also ask for a longer proposal in case I need more information. Once all abstracts and proposals have arrived on my desk, I arrange them into sessions. A successful abstract/ proposal will combine some threads of the focus topic and the agenda of the conference itself: the cross connections between the visual and the liberal arts. This is a non-juried conference, so if a proposal matches our interests, it will be accepted. Once accepted, the registration letter will be sent to the participant.

(2) Question: If we miss the deadline for deposits, can we still register in early September? Our fall schedules are a bit up in the air right now, and we would prefer not to submit non-refundable deposits if we are not certain that we can attend at least part of the conference.
Answer: If you wish, you may delay submitting the deposit, and you may still register in September. This may be helpful to you if you are unsure of your fall teaching schedule and you wish to come as an observer.
However, the deposit assures a presenter a place in a session. In general, I do not schedule a proposal in a session until I have received a deposit. Late registrations are scheduled if there is a vacancy in an appropriate session. If all appropriate sessions are full, I must reject the proposal.
We adopted the use of a non-refundable deposit to decrease last-minute cancellations which impact negatively on other presenters in the same scheduled session and to help us give appropriate numbers to the Warwick Hotel.

(3) Question: Does the deposit hold a room for one at the Warwick Hotel? Is this the recommended place to stay? Cost of a room per night?
Answer: The deposit holds a place for you, as a presenter, and has no connection to the housing that you arrange separately with the Warwick Hotel. The deposit is non-refundable. The registration fee covers two lunches, two breakfasts, a Thursday afternoon Networking Hour after the keynote address, all AV supplies and conference room use. The number of participants varies each year, running from a low of 90 to a high of 140, depending on topic and school budgets. Presenters present in concurrent sessions (four rooms are used at a time) in the Warwick Hotel from Thursday morning until late Friday afternoon.

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587