The Institute for Studio Studies, which convenes each summer for four weeks in the historic, hilltop village of Auvillar, France, focuses on the making of work that is conceived, articulated, and imaged through the primal disciplines of painting and drawing. The faculty, as practicing artists themselves, strongly believe that the study of these disciplines can serve as a conduit for the understanding of human endeavor in general.
Each summer the Institute incubates the individual studio interests of thirty Yale College students from such diverse fields as biochemistry, architecture, literature, history, and photography. With its “Studio Practice” course, the Institute provides rigorous training in an attitude of response, meaning: practice in how to observe, how to listen, and how to act effectively on what is seen, rather than written.
By learning to recognize in each work the seeds of the work that will follow and by developing the habit of prompt response, students develop a first-hand understanding of the strategies used in creative idea development and the tremendous ground that can be covered when these strategies are applied with rigor.
The participants’ initial dislocation—they are foreigners in a small town who are involved in a process that has no real end—is followed by a deeper relocation that is both physical and philosophical. Certainly, they produce outstanding work. But, for the purposes of this program, this excellent work is a happy accident. “Studio Practice” does not teach successful painting and drawing; it is a program that enables an experience of self-direction and a hands-on understanding of what the artist is confronted with while in the process of making work in the studio.
Past Director, Institute for Studio Studies