Dear Bill: an ongoing conversation on art education

Dear Bill,

I often wonder what you think of us, and for that matter, the school of your namesake, as you gaze silently down from the stairs. There’s something erotic about your masculine pose, the way your soft white shirt is unbuttoned at the top, and how your plush corduroy pants outline the slight tilt of your posture. Admittedly, I have a thing for men in corduroys – maybe it’s a professorial fetish – an analyst would say it’s a father complex, I’m sure.

As my eyes catch yours in passing, I think about the Black Mountain College and what it must have been like. Rumour has it that you were not particularly keen on art school. Did you even use the word ‘curriculum’, or was there simply an unspoken symbiotic flow between lessons and like minds? I can’t imagine what it must have been like to work alongside Anni Albers with her love of tactility, textiles, weaving, and Josef’s meticulous studies of colour. Sometimes I still wonder what he meant when he said: “Learning is better than teaching because it is more intensive: the more we teach, the less students can learn.”

And John Cage, did he make you lentil cakes with wild chanterelles? I was told he massaged Merce Cunningham’s feet daily. Also, what about Walter Gropius? Was he strict and orderly in the way architects can sometimes be? Did you often speak to Jacob Lawrence? His work is still so of the present. By any chance, were you in the garden when Buckminster Fuller experimented with his geodesic domes? Bill, there are so many questions I would love to ask, but I have to move on to class.