By Jim McCloskey
Through the past several weeks, I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of conversations about ART – Artistic Resources & Training.
It’s the new educational forum being built by Mark Holden and a collection of like-minded professionals (including David Tisherman, Kevin Fleming, Judith Corona and Larry Drasin, among many others) who want to kick the level of instruction and information now available to watershapers and environmental artists up to a whole new level.
It’s a fresh concept, says Holden – much more of a college-style, goals-based approach to teaching and learning in which students are held to high standards, instructors are eminently qualified in specific subject areas and the curriculum has a sharply defined goal of bringing excellence to watershaping, now and for the future.
It carries me back to the very early days of WaterShapes: In 1999, we set out with the aim to make the magazine a vehicle for communicating the best watershaping had to offer by way of ideas, projects, techniques and technologies. This philosophical backdrop sustained the magazine for years and we saw real progress. Still, what was going on with advanced education in watershaping always struck me as a bit too random, much too narrowly focused on swimming pools and far too informal: association without structure, reach without grasp, ambition without achievement.
That situation is, I think, about to change.
There’s an interview with Mark Holden in the March 21, 2012 edition of our WaterShapes EXTRA newsletter that defines ART in far greater detail. I don’t want to steal any more of his thunder, so I’ll conclude here with two key points:
First, WaterShapes EXTRA and www.watershapes.com are committed to furthering ART’s mission to expel mediocrity and replace it with excellence. We will work with its instructors and students to share insights, experiences and revelations. We will fill our Web site and newsletters with information that complements ART’s mission with professionals. And we will extend that mission by arming interested consumers with questions that need to be asked if artful, excellent projects are to result.
Second, I see a future through ART. For a long time, I have had the sense that education in watershaping and aquatic design was at best stuck in a rut and at worst had careened into a ditch. With ART, I now see an entity and a movement that will be capable of perpetuating itself and having an enduring, evolutionary effect on designers, builders, engineers, allied professionals and consumers of both decorative and recreational water.
In short, I see amazing things on the horizon. I invite you to follow my blog and WaterShapes EXTRA to keep up with this fast-developing project. And pass the word: This is going to be exciting.
If you have comments or additional thoughts to offer, please do so below. And be sure to share this blog (and the Mark Holden Interview) with anyone you know who might be interested!