A series of grants allowed the University of Georgia to produce and develop an art department of the highest caliber. In the beginning, a series of small contributions by the General Education Board were eclipsed by a sum of $13,750 in 1950 towards the expansion of the art program. The successful execution of this gift under Lamar Dodd resulted in an eight-year deal from the G.E.B. which would total $250,000 dollars. In figures adjusted for inflation according the Oregon State University Department of Political Science, this amount would be closer to $2,250,000 dollars in 2008. With these economic resources the UGA art department would be able to lay out a plan for not only the following eight years, but for the next two decades at perhaps beyond. The proposed plans presented in the annual academic report of 1953 discuss a goal which began with the reformation of their freshman courses. Building a new structure to contain its exploding art department was also a top priority. The proposal included the introduction of new disciplines and the expansion of the graduate study program. As predicted by the staff, the actions advanced by the eight year deal would indeed carry through until the mid-nineteen sixties.
The Art X demonstration initiated a renaissance at UGA’s Art Department. But while teachers would invent new ways of teaching, the money defined the duration of the Georgia Experiment.
The General Education Board, GEB, established through the Rockefeller Foundation, nurtured the University of Georgia art department through its tentative adolescence and was the underlying cause of its maturity. It began with small grants which were put to practical and entrepreneurial good use. The initial $7,000 dollar would lead to a deal worth $250,000 over eight years. This federal funding prompted the Georgia Board of Trustees to invest more money in the art department as well.
Lamar Dodd and Erwin Breithaupt’s individual G.E.B. grants were also pivotal to the greatest success of the program. Dodd’s grant gave him the discretion to bring in George Nelson which led to Art X, and Breithaupt’s grant gave him the degrees and experience he needed to carry out the plan Nelson and Eames theorized.
The first money the GEB provided UGA was for a goal with a humble scope, to teach black farmers how to farm in a modern way. However, UGA continually exceeded the expectations placed upon them. During the summer of 1951 the art department's workshop in Art Education for local teachers, kicking off the first part of an educational plan that was by all measures highly successful. And, as long as the grants lasted the school continued to adjust and perfect their use. Later, when the money ran out broken slides went un-replaced and new opinions replaced the committee approach of the fifties. True to expectations the plan devised in 1952 did last for decades, but new instructors and strained budgets all led to a conclusion of the experiment.
In the beginning they paid close attention to their introductory courses which they modeled after the Art X show. “The faculty has studied the program continuously since its inception, possibly even more closely than other courses in our curricula, making minor revisions as needed.”
The $250,000 grant of the General Education Board resulted in the: “Program for the Department of Art at University of Georgia” devised in April of 1952 and was considered the “blueprint” for the department for the next 15 to 20 years, maybe longer.
This blueprint included, new library book lists, exhibition plans, much needed equipment, physical facilities, and personnel. The plan at first was to have two of the top designers in the country form an Advisory Committee or Steering Committee, and then let them select a third to join them. These three would meet quarterly with the department in Athens.
The artist visitors of the fateful years of 1952 and 1953 included: Francis Chapin, Abbot Pattison, George Nelson, Charles Eames, Alexander Girard, Thomas Munre, Jacob de la Faille, William Heard Kilpstrick, Egbere Jacobson, Charlotte Vanderyear, and Buckminster Fuller.
Buckminster Fuller whose work sometimes overlapped with that of Nelson and Eames, presented two lectures one on May 11 and one on May 12 of 1953. He was described as “a distinguished designer, inventor, scientist, and mathematician.”
A major project associated with the department of art would come in 1955, commensurate with its improved reputation. Lamar Dodd would oversee a project for the Carnegie Corporation of New York who made a sizable grant to the University of Georgia for a long range project to establish a comprehensive collection of color slides to be used in teaching the arts of the United States. This included painting, sculpture, and architecture, but also graphic arts, costume design, Indian arts, interiors, stage design, photography, and visual communications.
Dodd headed a committee of experts who selected 4000 art objects to be photographed. This survey would make an important gesture towards codifying the essential works of art to the American culture. These objects were in some cases never photographed before or never so vigilantly. Meanwhile,“Their object was not to glorify, but to document….If, for instance, a building had an architectural flaw, the photographer would not try to hide it behind a tree in the picture.”
Of the 4000 images, they selected the 2500 which they felt would be most useful in sets of 250, 500, 1000, 1500, and 2500. Depending on school’s budget, they could purchase them in a subscription format. Each set has a hard cover book, Arts of the United States. Published by the University of Georgia Press right in Athens, Georgia, edited by William H. Pierson and Martha Davidson. It contained 4000 black and white illustrations, plus relevant data. The 88,000 word text includes essays by leading art historians and critics in the 18 categories and even a chapter on, “The Technique of Photography and Slide Production” and “The Use of the Catalogue.”
“The slides themselves are glass-covered in plastic mounts. They won’t scratch or mar, they are easily cleaned, and he plastic won’t warp from projector heat. For easy reference, the mounts are imprinted with essential data on the art objects: artist, title, medium, date, and owner.” (ALA Examiner 1955).
“The idea was not to provide slides merely of the teaching of art itself, but slides which would help to illustrate American cultural and social and intellectual history. This meant that the collection must be restricted to painting, sculpture, and architecture, but must cover other forms of art, with that word taken in its broadest meaning. It must include graphic arts, and posters, and interiors, and stage design, and photography. The collection must be comprehensive but selective; not so gigantic as to be prohibitively expensive, yet broad enough so that, taken as a whole, it would represent a kind of documentary of American life.”
Here are examples:
“Radiator, cast iron, black finish, with statue of Temperance, 1820-30”
Or under architecture:
“Capitol, Richmond, Virginia (2 views) Architect: Thomas Jefferson.”
Under City design simply:
War posters, cartoons, a brochure, “A triumph in metallurgy and prosthetic beauty.”
Sandak, Inc. was chosen for its experimentation in the very best reproductions possible, the four photographers had the following gear: “100 pounds of a camera with three lenses, lighting equipment, a tripod, reflectors and screens, and fabrics and papers for backgrounds. Each carried his own tool chest with 50 or 60 items, so that minor repairs could be made en route.”
One photographer covered 40,000 miles in a Volkswagen microbus, going into 47 of the then 48 states, and photographing objects as different in size and shape as an Indian ring and the United Nations building. No one could be a specialist.
They hoped “not to make “pretty” pictures but accurate ones. In short, they were making pictures for teaching purposes.
In each photo they, “included in the area photographed are the engravers “gray scale” and color patch, as guide for the color and density decisions made in the laboratory not on location....At that time, all slides had to be mounted by hand at the rate 20 per hour, yet a brand new machine 2,000 per hour by a new machine.”
When the President Aderhold asked Dodd to describe the experiment in creativity the University was conducting within its art program. “We are very much concerned with making art play its proper role in program of the College of Arts and Sciences.” The Carnegie Slide project was a critical demonstration of the art programs value to the University.
In addition an “enviable number of placements” were found for graduates of the department. This was attributed to several factors. High standards, a policy of frequently reevaluating their curriculum while keeping it flexible for necessary adjustments. The teacher’s took pride in taking a personal interest in their students.
There was also an awareness that they had reached a plateau of resources while enrollment increased exponentially. This problem, common to many schools across America, has not yet been overcome.
With an upsurge of non-art students in service courses, it allowed faculty less time to maintain course quality. Student teacher rapport grew more remote with the larger the numbers of students per section. Diminishing space limited future growth. Major areas were feeling squeezed. Administration staff remained the same as seventy eight percent increases in faculty handled a two hundred and twenty one percent increase in yearly student enrollment.
They hoped that they could fix the problem. In a very telling letter the faculty of the art department said this:
“We believe good education is a unique experience. It becomes meaningful to different ways and at different times. We aspire for a program open enough to allow for individual adjustments to the needs and talents of the students who merit it, both artistically and spiritually. We believe we can achieve this end only as one person dealing with another…We cannot standardize art education but must vitalize it as it grows, Education is the magic that happens when concepts, truth and conviction of action are communicated or discovered. To that aim we are dedicated and to that end we seek acceptance of our goals.
The General Education Board Grant was an eight year deal in the total amount of $250,000 with monies doled out every year, and per the terms of the grant UGA matched the $41,200 total with $20, 000 of their own. Around $12,000 dollars was used for library equipment. Another portion was used to remodel the “Fine Arts Room 110 into the studio needed for the operation of our Basic Course Sequence, the room was equipped with three synchronized slide projectors and a tape recorder which, together with our movie projector, can be operated by remote-control switches. Room 111 was also partially renovated in order to house a darkroom laboratory for the photographic work carried on by the department.” The room lacked a water supply or a method of maintaining temperature controls or ventilation system, but “commendable work” was carried out. No plan to introduce those needs was planned in lieu of a new building being secured.”