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Distinguished Teaching of Art Award

The Distinguished Teaching of Art Award, established in 1972, is presented to an individual who has been actively engaged in teaching art for most of his or her career. This award is presented to an artist of distinction who has developed a philosophy or technique of instruction based on his or her experience as an artist; has encouraged his or her students to develop their own individual abilities; and/or has made some contribution to the body of knowledge loosely called theory and understood as embracing technical, material, aesthetic, and perceptual issues.

2015 Winner

Richard Brown

Richard Brown

Richard Brown is a professor of art at Massachusetts College of Art, where he has taught since 1988. He has been recognized with the Award for Distinction in Art by the Washington University Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts in 2011, and a Fulbright Scholar Research Award to Poland, in 2007. In addition his honors and distinctions include the Lillian Heller Curator’s Award in 2008 and 2013, the Berkshire Living Viewer’s Choice Award in 2008 and 2009, a Center for Arts and Community Partnership Grant in 2006, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, among many others.

Professor Brown’s teaching and art practice are impressive and include a holistic approach alive with “intellectual curiosity” and learning by doing. He is the founder of Handshouse Studio, which has led to unparalleled educational opportunities for his students, and where he has created a dynamic community of learning and sharing among diverse perspectives, skills, and knowledge as represented by students and professionals working together. His work, and that of his partner Laura Brown and his students, involves the careful recreation of historical objects and spaces using traditional methods and informed by thorough research, that has been recognized nationally and internationally and has sparked public imagination. His artistic, teaching, and studio practice is extraordinary in its engagement of students on the frontlines of creating internationally recognized objects, and “seems-like-it-should fail” projects, including creating a replica of an eighteenth-century French human-powered construction crane, the 1776 Revolutionary War submarine, The Turtle, and the re-creation and installation of the timber framed roof-structure with polychromed ceiling of the Gwozdziec Synagogue in Poland.

Brown’s unique courses and international opportunities are “revolutionary” in the way that they incorporate “learning by building” with a high profile risk for failure. His teaching exemplifies a route for researching, collaboration and for social practice that makes art speak through engagement with intellectual inquiry, social issues, and materiality. His career inspires us to rethink how artists in the twenty-first century are taught to make meaningful art in ways that transcend a commercial art career.

Jury: Karen Kunc, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, chair; Jacki Apple, Art Center College of Design; and Virginia Derryberry, University of North Carolina, Asheville.

Past Winners

The first five winners of the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award—Josef Albers, Tony Smith, Philip Guston, Jack Tworkov, and Grace Hartigan—are all major figures from the American modernist canon. Demonstrating effectively that the teaching and practice of art is often inseparable, each professor has influenced thousands of art students over the years, in mediums ranging from sculpture (Lester Van Winkle), painting (Wayne Thiebaud, Mercedes Matter), and printmaking (Robert Blackburn) to photography (Jerry N. Uelsmann), new media (Margaret Lovejoy), and interdisciplinary practices (Hans Haacke, Vernon Fisher).

Read a list of all winners of the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from 1973 to the present.

Award Nominations

CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2016 awards. Please review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with the nomination process and to download, complete, and submit the requested materials. Deadline: July 31, 2015, for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awards, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award; August 31, 2015, for all others.

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