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Old 01-02-2019, 11:26 AM
 
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BFA metals seems like a very cool fine arts discipline with many practical opportunities for an artist to create his or her own product. However, it seems like this is not offered in many top arts schools like SVA, Pratt, and SAIC. Even UBuffalo doest offer metals. Is there a reason why?
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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I can't say for sure, but working in metal is a dangerous enterprise, especially for beginners. It's also pretty expensive in both raw materials and the tools needed.

Art schools have to be concerned about 2 things always: Student safety and course costs.

Working in art, no matter what it is always involves something that is toxic, hazardous, or both to some degree, and purchasing something really expensive, such as an English wheel or a bunch of Mig-Tig welders has to be justified to the school's bean counters.

Any course that isn't offered has to have a lot of very high interest potential built up before such equipment will be purchased.

State colleges that offer mechanical engineering, structural design, and related degrees along with art degrees don't have those constrictions on them.
Metal shops/labs where engineering students learn to actually build the metal objects they draw are now a standard requirement in many colleges, so there are plenty of students to level out the costs of equipment and insurance, and some of these labs are available to sculpture classes for use by art students with a teacher's approval/request.

The same is true with wood sculpture; schools with colleges of forestry and mines often have woodworking labs that are fully equipped. Forestry students have to know how to work wood as part of their degree, and that means turning a log into something other than raw timber.

Art schools still teach pottery because the clay is pretty darned safe until it goes in the kiln. The kilns are pretty cheap to build, are fairly safe for beginners, especially under supervision, and don't have to be expensive to maintain. There's not much difference between a pot and a ceramic sculpture.

But metal casting is about as hazardous as it gets, so I don't expect many art schools are offering classes in it any more.

Art schools are much more heavily oriented toward the high-volume needs of commerce. Right now, that's digital art, digital animation, color theory, design theory, etc. That's where all the student interest is as well, because that's where all the jobs are after graduation.

If I was a young student who wants to become a metal sculptor, I would go hunting for a state school with the labs that are teaching engineers how to thread and bend Grade 8 steel and how to weld high-temp stainless steel. That's the lab that will teach me metal sculpting. All the prep work can be done in art classes.
And before I spent the money, I would make damn sure I have full access to those labs before I enroll.

Over 40 years ago, my art advisor didn't care if a hauled a couple of welding tanks into an art lab and went to burning through some sheet metal. The same lab had a metal casting centrifuge that would sling hunks of molten bronze on the walls when it wasn't loaded just right too, and I learned to duck before I tripped the centrifuge while working in the lab alone at night.

All that is long gone now. An art school doesn't want to have to deal with a student who just cut off a finger or caught 4 ounces of red-hot aluminum in the belly any more. Too much risk, too little return for them.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:38 AM
 
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Thanks banjomike!
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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You're welcome, Daddy.

I forgot to mention apprenticeships. Metal sculptors quite often need assistance with their work, and in the art profession, experience always counts for more than a degree in a field like sculpture.

Most of the fine artists I know all have a year or two of college, but relatively few have even a bachelor's degree. It seems those who have the most natural affinity for the work tend to get what they need from college, then skip the degree to go out to put the knowledge into production.

I'm not knocking attending college for art training in any way; every college's art department can teach a lot of valuable training a beginning sculptor will need, but when it comes to metal manipulation, a job in a good metal-working shop or a foundry will give a metal sculptor all the basics that are needed.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forest_Hills_Daddy View Post
BFA metals seems like a very cool fine arts discipline with many practical opportunities for an artist to create his or her own product. However, it seems like this is not offered in many top arts schools like SVA, Pratt, and SAIC. Even UBuffalo doest offer metals. Is there a reason why?

It's rolled into sculpture as a sub-discipline usually. Or into a design program.

The reason is that sculpture isn't in high demand. Metal sculpture even less. But fine artists don't need degrees. They need talent and initiative and some entreprenurial spirit.

Learn metalworking as a trade. Then apply it to your artistic side.
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Old Today, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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If metal casting is considered to be part of sculpture, working metal comprises quite a lot of the art.

Casting isn't very often done by the artist though on larger works. A foundry does all that, so it quite a lot of casting, it's more trade and craft than art. Public metal sculpture creation is a very complicated business.

Jewelry casting is the reverse, where the artist very often does the casting.
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