What is the Walter Gropius Master Artist Program?
The first Walter Gropius Master Artist, painter Robert Cottingham, came to the Huntington Museum of Art (HMA) in 1992, thanks to generous funding from the Estate of Roxanna Y. Booth, who supported the development of an art education program following the ideals of Walter Gropius. Mrs. Booth’s son, Alex Booth, contributed significantly to the concept development of the Walter Gropius Master Artist Program.
As part of each Master Artist’s visit, HMA presents an exhibition of the work of the Master Artist, allowing the public an opportunity to engage with the work and be inspired by it. The artist delivers a lecture regarding their work and creative process which is open to the public, providing a chance for those who cannot participate in the hands-on studio workshop to learn more about each Master Artist.
The workshop itself is held for pre-registered attendees, many of whom are working or emerging artists with some degree of professional experience. By structuring the Walter Gropius Master Artist Program in this way, HMA maximizes the impact of the visiting artist, providing varying levels of access and engagement tailored to the needs of each audience.
The Walter Gropius Master Artist Program not only serves the general public, creating ripples of influence and adding new threads of creativity to the cultural fabric of the region, but also specifically serves as an economic and professional development tool for local artists who are able to hone their skills and create new works under the guidance of established artists.
Now in its 25th year, the Walter Gropius Master Artist Program has hosted over 120 artists working in various media. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, assemblage, drawing, digital photography, quilting, and papermaking have all been presented through the Walter Gropius Master Artist Program. Artists specializing in less common artistic forms, such as egg tempura painting, painting on stained glass, and large-scale ceramic installations, have been selected as Walter Gropius Master Artists, bringing unique perspectives and talents to the Tri-State area.
HMA is proud to continue this Program, honoring the long tradition of studio workshop education, the legacy of the Booth family, and the artistic spirit that drives every future generation to discover, learn, and create.
Dr. Walter Gropius' speech at the groundbreaking ceremonies of the
August 11, 1968
When Walter Gropius and The Architects’ Collaborative were chosen to design the addition that would double the size of the Huntington Museum of Art, a path had been chosen that would help transform the institution. And from the very beginning, Gropius had a distinctive idea of what the Museum should be, as he noted in his speech at the groundbreaking for the addition in August of 1968:
This institute, thanks to your generous donor, celebrates today the ground-breaking for a large new wing of its Art Gallery and of three additional workshop buildings. This building program, given to your architects, indicates that the Board of the Huntington Gallery has shown wisdom in recognizing that art appreciation alone is not enough for American culture, but that young people also be encouraged to venture into their own attempts of creating. It seems to be fitting to emphasize here the importance of the possible variety of future activities as potential cultural contributions.
It will be of incalculable value for Huntington and its neighboring towns to have at their disposal a greatly broadened institute – after these buildings will be finished – to pursue both the improvement of historic knowledge of art as well as the artistic creativity of their own young generation for the cultural benefit of the whole community. I ask your permission to stress particularly the aspect of workshop education in the gallery which is perhaps less obvious in its scope and value to the average person than appreciation of art of the past, but ever so much more important for the future generations’ creative attitude.
Man must be educated to see and to acquire a sense of visual unity. Beauty is a basic requirement of life. When a society has recognized this and has educated itself to “see,” it will finally produce a cultural image.
Our modern society is still on trial where cultural integration is concerned. This certainly cannot be accomplished by handing out authoritative beauty formulas to an uncomprehending public, untrained to see, to perceive, to discriminate. A society such as ours, which has conferred equal privileges on everybody, will have to acknowledge its duty to activate the general responsiveness to spiritual and aesthetic values, to intensify the development of everybody’s imaginative faculties. We shall have to raise the expectations and demands a people make on their own way of living, to awaken and sharpen their latent capacities for creation and cooperation. Only this can create the basis from which eventually the creative act of the artist can rise, not as an isolated phenomenon, ignored and rejected by the crowd, but firmly embedded in a network of public response and understanding.
The only active influence our society can take towards such a goal is to see to it that our educational system for the next generation will develop in each child, from the beginning, perceptive awareness which intensifies his sense of form. He is born with eyes, but can he see? No, he has to learn how to see. Seeing more, he then will comprehend more of what he sees and will learn to understand the positive and negative factors which influence the environment he finds himself in. Our present methods of education, which put a premium on accumulation of knowledge, have rarely reached out to include a training in creative habits of observing, seeing and shaping our surroundings. Children should be introduced right from the start to the potentialities of their environment, to the physical and psychological laws that govern the visual world and to the supreme enjoyment that comes from participating in the creative process of giving form to one’s living space. Such experience, if continued in depth throughout the whole of the educational cycle, will never be forgotten and will prepare the adult to continue taking an informed interest in what happens around him. Recent research at the University of Chicago has shown that “the high I.Q children seek out the safety and security of the 'known,' while the high creative children seem to enjoy the risk and uncertainty of the 'unknown.'” We should strengthen this creative spirit, which is essentially one of the non-conformist, independent search. We must instill respect for it and create response to it on the broadest level, otherwise, the common man stays below his potential and the uncommon man burns up his fireworks in isolation.
Most difficult to learn is what we might call the direct approach in design and art. That is, to keep one’s mind unprejudiced, to discard all non-essential features and thus to develop, so to speak, a state of new innocence. I remind you of the old Chinese parable of an artist who wanted to carve a beautiful post for bell chimes. By making it, he thought he could win love from his people, but the result was a flop. He tried again, expecting glory, honor, and money as a result, but the second attempt also miscarried. Finally, he concentrated only on the work itself at hand; now he succeeded.
To gain insight in a long process of trial and error, one cannot begin early enough. The tragedy is that most people are placed before such experience so late in the educational process that it does not become a determining factor of their development. Their attitudes become stereotyped before they have had a chance to learn to trust their own reactions and, thereby, to release their own talents.
In a highly developed democracy, the intuitive qualities of the artist are as much needed as those of the scientist and the mathematician. All our children have an innate ability and desire to produce form. This talent must be given a chance to assert itself instead of being relegated to the sidelines. That such activities may flourish here under the stimulation of talented teachers and of great examples of works of art exhibited in the Gallery, is my intensive wish.
I cannot end without expressing my thanks to Mrs. Long, who introduced me to this fine job, for the understanding your architects have received by the members of the Board, and by the director of the Gallery, Mr. Hoffman, and finally for the great care Mr. McCreight and Mr. Alex Booth have given to finally fit our project into the limits of available appropriation.