Reflections Magazine Issue #54 - Fall 2000 - Page 10

A Legacy of Artists 10 ister Helene often told her students that she was educating them “not for today, but for 25 years from today.” At the time, I wondered just what she meant. Now, more than 50 years later, I can honestly say I have used the lessons she taught us in all the years that followed. Not only lessons in art, but in meeting the challenges of life as well. Studio Angelico, appropriately named to honor Fra Angelico, a 15th century Italian Dominican friar, was set up on a guild system. In the guild system, small shops were organized for the welfare and education of members to promote the making of art (with a little “a,” Sister was always quick to add). We students were like those apprentices, learning under the direction of experienced, working artists and assisting with whatever commissions they happened to be working on at the time. The Studio was comprised of several Studio Angelico in the 1940s: Lessons in art and life By Lois Hueneman Chazaud ‘49 small, specialized shops either of a permanent nature or set up as a need arose. The Weaving Shop, Sculpture and Pottery Shop, Drawing and Painting Studio, and the Scriptorium (for calligraphy and printmaking) were of a more permanent nature. Class presentations were called “demonstrations” and were conducted by the artists, such as Mr. Melville Steinfels, or Sister herself. Demonstrations were held once, twice, or three times a week depending on the number of credit hours given for the subject. For some classes, Sister figured the number of hours per week, the complexity of the subject, and multiplied by the number of weeks in a semester to determine the number of hours of work needed to satisfy a course requirement and master a skill. As we worked, we marked our hours on index cards kept in metal boxes in each shop. The cards contained the students’ names, the name of the course, and number of hours required. We were encouraged to spend our free time working in the Studio, but no one needed encouragement. Most of us found it necessary to work evenings and sometimes weekends to meet deadlines for assignments. Frequently the number of hours we recorded on the cards far exceeded the number required. With the system Sister devised, for earning credits in courses that simply required hours of practice to master a skill and produce work of the caliber she demanded, art majors were able to accelerate in many of the basic art courses. As students gained knowledge and skills, some naturally excelled in one area over another. On occasion, such a person was asked to supervise a workshop. This was the case with Lena Sylvester, one of my classmates. Lena was blind, but oh! What a taskmaster she was in the Weaving Shop! She taught me to warp, thread the loom, and weave, and checked my progress every evening. Those skilled fingers of hers, so accustomed to reading Braille, found all my mistakes. Nothing escaped her attention. She took special pride in the high ]X[]Hو