During the summers while at Yale, I went back to Mandan, North
Dakota. We lived with my wifes parents and I taught
watercolor and drawing classes using the church basement as
a classroom. Most of the students were older married women
and they were enjoyable to work with because of their enthusiasm.
one thing I was most certain of after my two years at Yale
was that my talents were insufficient to consider professional
design practice as a career. However, the education at Yale
had been extremely beneficial for me; it opened my eyes to
entirely new possibilities, one of which was teaching. I had
observed excellent teachers, worked in an exciting new program
taught by individuals of exceptional ability. I felt a missionary
zeal to take some of this back to the midwest. It might well
be that I moved toward teaching according to the old axiom,
Those who cannot become teachers." It was many
years later that I finally realized that for me, Graphic Design
was a means and never an end. Graphic Design for me has been
merely a vehicle to other things which are exciting and rewarding.
strengths grew out of being exposed to a good educational
background with high standards, being able to come to grips
with the educational process and having a great deal of physical
energy. I enjoyed the people contact of teaching and working
in the community or profession. I was able to set goals, analyze,
organize and project an educational program. Being endowed
with dogged persistence was helpful but it often put me in
jeopardy with administrators. I have been innovative, but
no one could ever accuse me of being on the cutting
edge of design. My inclinations have been to stay with
basics, and to demand commitment and productivity from students
in addition to a high level of performance.
earlier education at the University of Nebraska and The Minneapolis
School of Art was not negated by what had been learned at
Yale. However, those experiences took on new meaning because
of what I did learn at Yale. There are teachers and experiences
at the University of Nebraska and The Minneapolis School of
Art which have stayed with me and contributed to my later
role as a teacher.
graduation from Yale, I returned to The Minneapolis School
of Art, and since I was the only teacher with a MFA, the president
frequently consulted with me on filling new positions. I recommended
those people from Yale that I felt had understood the program.
The president hired several graduates from Yale within a three
year period. Once they were on staff, I questioned and probed
them for all the understanding I could get. At
the same time, I was visiting Yale once or twice a year for
came back to The Minneapolis School of Art as a printmaker
and established the Printmaking program at that institution.
At the time, Advertising Design had the largest enrollment
in the school but the program itself was faltering. The teacher
in charge was elderly and out of step with changes then taking
place in the profession. The president called me to his office
and requested that I establish a Graphic Design program. That
marked the beginning of my involvement with Graphic Design
period of learning that was most important to my own education
was the time spent working with Inge Druckrey and Hans Allemann
at Kansas City. Both were graduates from Armin Hofmann's program
in Basel. My feeling is that what I learned from Albers was
general, and what I learned from Hofmanns program tended
to be more explicit, and it also dealt specifically with Graphic
Design. To this day, I feel greatly indebted to Inge and Hans
for sharing their experience with me.
through my education, I felt that school was something I had
to do, but it was not something that I always wanted to do.
My energies were directed more toward meeting demands of the
teacher than toward learning. This does not mean that I was
not involved in doing assignments, because in many instances,
there was intense and sustained effort in doing assignments.
However, this commitment was limited mainly to those assignments
that appealed to me. And again, my focus was more on doing
than on learning.
is difficult to admit that it was not until the last year
at Yale that I began to understand the role of education and
significance of being a student. It was while going through
the stacks at Sterling Library searching information for myself,
and not something assigned by a teacher, that I finally realized
that education was my responsibility. It is only in retrospect
long after graduation that many of us begin to appreciate
the opportunities and value of education.
in Fine Art, there is a current emphasis on mood and feeling
as instruments of artistic accomplishment. As a printmaker,
I went through this phase. I worked until the wee hours, drinking
coffee, smoking and playing classical music full blast. It
was a wonderful feeling but it did not have a great deal to
do with improving my artistic production. In retrospect, there
might be some educational benefit from just doing or hyping
yourself into an emotional frenzy, but learning is something
different. Learning has more to do with criteria, defining
visual objectives and interpreting content. It also has to
do with understanding what can be taught and what cannot.
Skills and criteria can be learned; creativity and concepts
cannot be taught as they are inherent to each individual.
as a teacher, I observed many, many students making the same
mistakes that I made regarding school. Most believed the objective
was to please the teacher and make good grades. They did not
realize that assignments are given for their benefit and not
the teacher. If students found the proper perspective while
still in school, they became motivated, worked independently,
productivity increased and they were rewarding to have in
class. Unfortunately, many students do not understand educational
process until afterwards when it is too late to make the most
of it. If students could only see education as an opportunity
rather than as a requirement, their attitude would be different
and they would gain so much more from the educational experience.
The Minneapolis School of Art many classes were taught in
museum corridors with free-standing dividers between classes.
A substantial number of teachers were drawn from the ranks
of local PWA and WPA artists who had practiced art full time
under government subsidy from the early 1930s until WWII The
student body was composed mainly of veterans, and it was overwhelmingly
older and male. Curriculum was dominated by Fine Arts. Even
as an Advertising major, many Fine Art courses were required.
What we now call foundations, was a two year program consisting
of classes in basic design, color, painting, sculpture, calligraphy
and drawing. The only academic course was Art History, and
this was taught by painting or drawing instructors. Most studio
courses were required with few electives. The school awarded
certificates to qualified students after four years. Tuition
was between three or four hundred dollars for an academic