Kanwischer helps boost visibility, reputation of BGSU art programs
With an eye for fine art, Bowling Green State University’s new School of Art Director Charles Kanwischer hopes to expand the visibility of the school and broaden the scope beyond conventional ideas of art making and displayed art.
Kanwischer, who was named director after Dr. Katerina Rüedi Ray stepped down from the position in May, is actively promoting this vision as the school incorporates design thinking, social responsibility and entrepreneurship into the curriculum.
He is sharing that message at the local, regional and — thanks to his involvement on two prestigious art associations — the national level. For 15 years Ray was a well-known and prominent regional and national advocate for the school; Kanwischer is continuing that practice.
In September he was elected to the National Council of Art Administrators (NCAA) Board of Directors, and last fall, he was appointed to the Professional Practices Committee of the College Art Association (CAA). Both positions allow him to tell the story of BGSU, the School of Art and the collaborations across campus to audiences beyond Ohio.
In size, the school is among the top 10 percent of public university art programs, Kanwischer said, with recognition for graduate programs, digital arts, metals, graphic design, ceramics, art education and art history.
“We have faculty and students who are actively involved nationally and internationally,” he said.
Kanwischer’s involvement with both national organizations links him to a community of current and future arts administrators in higher education as well as museums, libraries, art schools and commercial organizations.
“This community of arts administrators shares issues and solutions, best practices and accomplishments,” he said. “It’s a way to compare notes and cultivate strong arts leaders.” This becomes increasingly important as the arts are being criticized and de-funded at many levels.
He also is a site evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the accrediting body for schools of art and design, in which BGSU is included. His role as a site evaluator “allows me to look at other institutions and implicitly judge our programs with others,” he said.
“There are ways for BGSU to be part of something bigger,” Kanwischer said, and he and the faculty are committed to becoming more visible and continually improving their practices.
“We want to make sure our art programs are more accessible, not less accessible,” he said. “We want to bring more diversity to our programs and make a case for preserving the vitality of the traditional programs,” such as drawing, painting, sculpture and glassblowing.
"We also plan to explore and promote innovation and collaboration” with some of the more technology-driven programs such as digital arts and graphic design.