SCHOOLHAUS “ORIGINAL RECIPE”
In late-summer 2014, Dan Ibarra launched the first Schoolhaus experiment. Responding to a traditional art curriculum that was too big, and overly-dictated by set goals and outcomes, the program began as a blank slate art education experiment. All Schoolhaus curriculum and projects were built in direct response to Schoolhaus members’ requests. All members met together once a week for 2-hour full assembly where we would discuss a single topic, or invite a guest artist to visit the studio. The rest of the week was interspersed with scheduled open-invitation intensives based upon suggested curriculum. Topics in this early iteration spanned a broad range of art and design interests; professional practice, branding, self-promotion, color theory, typography, screenprinting, the creative process, and even some collage. Outside of scheduled discussions, numerous personal and one-on-one discussions arose throughout the day-to-day experience of the in-studio program. All members were invited to attend for as long or as short a period of time as necessary, at a cost of $500/month. Alongside in-studio assemblies and discussions, an online network was provided to share work and schedule time amongst members.
This initial program generated an insightful mix of social, conceptual, and creative results. It was truly successful it its goal to create a bottom-up classroom. But it was also had its flaws. Since the program was observed purely during regular studio hours, it was always a challenge for members to balance the timeframe. But more importantly, through our own in-class discussions regarding the struggles of the creative process and the stifling fear of the blank page, it became clear that this program itself was also somewhat of an intimidating blank page. Since the course was open-ended in its construction, it was difficult to know what was possible, and where to go next. Many departing members consistently commented that they “didn’t take advantage enough of the program.” In essence, the vast”we can do anything you want to do” possibilities of the program stifled creative contribution. This helped to illustrate that, even in the classroom, goals and constraints are not obstructions but opportunities. The real obstruction to creative growth is having no limits at all.
That is not to say that this program was a failure. It was not. Throughout the program, even though the program did not perfectly achieve its initial goals, every one of these founding members who attended the original Schoolhaus departed inspired, changed, and connected with themselves and one another. Below is a gallery of some of the experiences, work, and ideas that were birthed from this original program.