How to Become an Art Professor, part 1

UPDATES: I’ve put together the blog posts about how to become a college professor into one handy essay:  Arts in Education- Becoming a College Art Professor (link opens pdf file).

The essay’s a lot better organized, edited than this post — hope you enjoy it. :)


No joke — I thought I’d blog pieces of the process of becoming an art professor, since after all this Fall I’m going up for promotion to “full professor” (Until this promotion, have I been an “empty professor”?)

One of the tasks for applying for this kind of promotion: provide evidence of every art presentation or exhibit you’ve ever done. In my case, this means that every art show, from formal elite gallery to underground anti-establishment experiment has to be evidenced in one way or another. From 2011-2006 (the time period of my application for promotion), I was in sixty-one shows.

This is what the documentary file looks like, a screenshot from the MS-WORD file:

Each page represents one art exhibit — how strange! There’s photos from openings, scans of postcards and posters, webshots from online places where art was promoted, scans of contracts, etc. All of this is supposed to prove I’ve done what I’ve said I’ve done, which is be a practicing artist. It averages about a dozen art events per year. And I guess it shows that the exhibits actually did exist. But, such evidence tells you little or nothing about what the art was, or why. And if you ask me, the artworks themselves are the actual evidence — an oil painting well-made is much more convincing to me than a postcard announcement about a show. Hmm.

There will be an entirely different file for publications of art and writings, as different than exhibit. But it’ll look pretty much the same as the image above, grouping together evidence of 55 tidbits published here and there. This is the screenshot of it:

So, rule#1 about being an artist, which is the basic prerequisite of being an art professor: Make art and make more art.

But rule#2 of becoming a professor: Document Everything.

If you’re an artist hoping to become a professor, you have to do more than make the art. You must keep track of it. If you’ll be working in a state system with convoluted contracts and bureaucracies of paperwork, then keep a simple digital file of all the shows and update it little by little as you exhibit or publish — this kind of task is a royal pain if you have to do it all at once, but it’s not so bad if you do it just a little at a time. Or hire someone to do it for you! (as if!) It’s really no different than keeping track of your inventory, as any small business would.

4 thoughts on “How to Become an Art Professor, part 1

    • Thanks — hopefully there’s enough warm places with jobs — if that’s your preference. It’s a big adventure, being and becoming an art professor!

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