Welcome from Head of School Charlie White

Posted on September 1, 2020

Photograph of the exterior of CMU's College of Fine Arts, a beaux-arts building with large trees in front

Dear School of Art Community,

Though the start of this school year looks different from any other, it is truly wonderful to welcome our new students and welcome back our returning students, no matter where in the world they are! The School of Art has been planning, working, and preparing all summer to reimagine our courses, reconfigure our facilities, and create new systems to ensure that all students—whether on campus or remote—have a meaningful, albeit incredibly atypical, year.

While we’re excited for the start of the semester, we also share in the collective concerns for everyone’s health, and in the communal eagerness for things to move toward greater normalcy and predictability. With that said, we wanted to share some of our preparations for this fall, so that we can move forward together as a community of students, artists, educators, and thinkers who aim to grow and thrive, even in the face of challenges put before us.

To start, our courses have been rethought to provide the tools, materials, and technology that everyone needs. All School of Art students will have Adobe Creative Cloud, and, for those who have historically used our computer clusters for rendering and other major efforts, those clusters have been transformed to host increased SSH capability and accessibility. We have put an enormous amount of foresight into how students will be able to make work this fall, including designing and sending out kits spanning the curriculum, from material kits for our foundational courses to studio and technology kits for our advanced classes. These materials will provide anywhere from the basic tools for painting, drawing and building, to the most advanced tools for video production, photography, and digital production.

After hearing students call for more diverse voices and more varied engagement in their studio and lecture classes, we have provided every faculty member with the resources to bring multiple guest speakers, artists, and thinkers into their classrooms. The goal was clear: to host more, and more diverse, voices; provide a greater scope of artists of color across the entire school; and engage more frequently with outside views and voices. The result will be visitors in every course throughout the term, including Legacy Russell, Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem; Kibum Kim, scholar of art, law, politics, and business; and artists Karyn Olivier, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, and Miwa Matreyek, among many others.

Finally, those who will be on campus will find that many of our spaces have been enhanced to provide healthier and more organized use of our studios and fabrication facilities. To provide this access, we will launch a new online reservation system that will ensure that students still have access to the spaces they require while allowing for proper physical distancing and regular deep cleaning. In addition to our school’s many facilities, all juniors and seniors on campus will have studios on the fourth floor of the College of Fine Arts building. Our goal is to make as much or our school accessible to students while limiting the number of people on campus at any one time.

Lastly, I want you to all join me in welcoming some new additions to the School of Art faculty. We are excited to have assistant professor of painting Lyndon Barrios Jr. joining our full-time faculty, and we are honored to have artist and academic Halsey Rodman joining us this year as our Kraus Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art. We are also looking forward to having critic and artist Sharmistha Ray teaching in our MFA program as our Visiting Scholar; artist and scientist Paul Carlo Esposito teaching our new digital 3D foundation in sculpture; and artist and researcher Lindsey French joining our Electronic Media Studio 2 team this fall.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share all of this news with you. Please know that these are just the major steps being taken, as we will be making myriad adjustments and improvements this fall. I urge all of you to keep following along here and on social media (we’re @cmuschoolofart on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) for more details about how we’re adapting to hybrid learning, what our students are making this term, and updates from our alumni community. As always, send us your news and feedback to schoolofartnews@cmu.edu.

I send you my warmest regards, and send our entire school’s hope and encouragement for a productive fall ahead.



Charlie White
Regina and Marlin Miller Head of School
School of Art
Professor of Art
Carnegie Mellon University