Maureen Mullarkey is a painter who writes on art and culture (she recently wrote the OTS feature “The Popular Myth of Convivencia“). Earlier this week she received an offer to teach an MFA class, accepted it, and resigned—all in the same day:
Yesterday, I opened my computer to find an invitation to teach a graduate class called Art and Culture in a New York art school’s MFA program. It meant leading a weekly 90-minute seminar on assigned readings and attending, together with students, guest lectures by artists chosen by the department. Sounded good. The opportunity to guide and play devil’s advocate to young artists in their twenties and thirties who are committed to painting the figure appealed to me. So, yes, I hopped aboard.
To help me prepare over the summer for the fall semester, the department chair forwarded a syllabus and a required reading list. If I had seen the material ahead of time, I would not have signed on. I read things through once, twice, three times and withdrew my acceptance. The course might be called Art and Culture but the culture being promoted was not mine. Not even close. It was art world culture: semi-literate, reflexively left-leaning, and sodden with the hot new trends of the 1960s and ‘70s.