Building a better Alberta
Vancouver — Roll over, Bruce Mau. The Alberta College of Art and Design last week announced the creation of a new practical-minded, institutional think-tank similar to Mau’s Toronto-based Institute Without Borders that will also help build bridges between artists, designers and the real world.
The new Calgary-based Institute for the Creative Process — or ICP@ACAD, for short — is being built on the belief that artists and designers should be making meaningful contributions to the real world beyond the design of a new Coca-Cola bottle or simple manufacture of product. Like Mau’s own postgraduate program, a partnership with George Brown College, the ICP will be working with businesses and various community groups to apply creative design solutions to everyday social and organizational problems.
In addition to developing partnerships and thinking up new graduate-degree possibilities for the college, the ICP will be responsible for cultivating dialogue and research activities that directly address the nature and application of the creative process. The Institute will launch with an inaugural project called Stirring Culture: A Centennial Discussion on Arts Imagination and Community. The year-long series, beginning next September and culminating in a book, will feature at least five internationally renowned speakers (including Mau) and wide public discussions that address fundamental questions about the relationships between community, creativity and economic development.
“I really believe that it’s not good enough for institutions like this one to look inward and focus their attention almost exclusively on the education of the individual artist or designer without any regard for the larger community,” said the ACAD’s new director, Lance Carlson.
The ACAD is one of only four freestanding colleges and universities for artist and designer education in Canada, and one of only 40 such institutions in North America. Carlson, an American, joined as director eight months ago, having held a number of senior positions at art institutes in the U.S. He brought with him the belief, recently endorsed by the college’s board of governors with the adoption of a new statement of purpose, that institutions such as ACAD must act as catalysts for cultural research and community development.
“Bruce Mau is known for making grandiose statements about the importance of design, but this is exactly what’s happening,” says Carlson, pointing to a number of examples around the world where designers are redesigning tax systems and methods of patient care at medical centres. Carlson himself is currently in the midst of discussions with various provincial cabinet ministers about how to “redesign” Alberta and make it a more interesting place to work and live.
“Our world requires this type of thinking,” says Carlson. “We want people who can innovate, fuse ideas, and approach their endeavours within the context of a bigger view. At the end of it all, our most worthy resource is people and their ability to consider, reason and synthesize; we need to understand how to promote those behaviours.” Autor: ALEXANDRA GILL