Discourse / Editorials / April 18, 2012

The art student perspective on the Folio approval debate

It has been implied that there is a student consensus in the debate of Folio becoming an official Knox publication, saying that professor involvement would harm the journal’s status as a student run organization. In fact, we art students are in solidarity with the professors and feel they are speaking on our behalf, raising concerns surrounding the quality and professionalism that Folio has displayed thus far.
Knox College needs a quality visual arts journal. For too long, Catch and Cellar Door have been the only way for Knox artists to showcase their work in print, but their focus is on literary works. With some polishing, Folio could publish the best art Knox has to offer.
As students who are serious about art, we care about quality and professionalism. The art department is interested in advising in Folio’s process, not to sabotage and claim the publication as their own, but to help develop it as an outlet for students who have a vested interest in visual art. Accusations that the Art Department’s proposed involvement with the journal “will hinder the true artistic work of all students, faculty, staff and alumni,” are unfounded. The faculty and the Art Department are asking for a role in Folio’s development not because of its recent success, but because Folio wishes to present itself as the official face of art at Knox. As an official Knox publication, Folio should meet academic standards of the school and the department and not just showcase “creativity.” The Art Department wants to help it successfully live up to these academic standards.
The faculty of the Art Department can provide a framework for critically selecting the best works for publication. Currently, the Folio selection process is not based on clear criteria. Do staff members and their friends have a greater chance of being published? Are all students given fair opportunities for inclusion? How is it decided what art is good enough for publication?
Past editions of Folio have dissuaded many serious art students from submitting work, since print and reproduction quality can make or break the presentation of many works of art, and the journal as it stands is not the most attractive venue to showcase our work. In addition, it makes us uncomfortable that all submissions, regardless of quality, are displayed on the Folio website, and that these works are untitled and unaccredited to the artists. The website will be under scrutiny by the greater community and prospective students. Their impression of the work could determine what they think of our art academics.
It has been suggested that the Art Department create their own visual arts journal. The Art Department annually publishes a catalog of work by senior art students in the capstone. This catalog, displaying intense, academic work serves a very different purpose from a visual arts journal open to all Knox students. Additionally, a collaborative and inclusive journal is much more in the spirit of the Knox community.
Folio should set the bar high to raise the quality of the journal overall. This does not mean changing anything about the submission process, which asks for art from everyone on campus. This is a great practice; the more works submitted, the better chance of high quality work to choose from. Professors have been actually very supportive of Folio, taking class time to urge students to submit work.
We urge the Folio staff to understand that the students of the Art Department desire to be involved in the development of the journal and support involvement of the professors to raise the quality of the journal overall.

Alex Robertson

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