Arts preview: Q&A with new CCAD President Dr. Melanie Corn

Jim Fischer

CCAD President Dr. Melanie Corn has been on the job for just under three weeks.

She said it's proving to be a great time to get started - a couple months to get the lay of the land, meet the faculty and students before they disperse for the summer, and to participate in events like last weekend's Art Fair, May's Chroma show, the annual Fashion Show, and, of course, Commencement. The summer will provide the opportunity to continue to introduce herself to the broader Columbus community, experience her new city and settle her family in as they join her from California.

CCAD's fifth president - its first female president - was gracious enough to spend some time chatting withAlive.

Q: What was the appeal of this position to you?

A: I've been in art and design school administration for about 13 years at California College of the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. When this position came available it - it sounds cliché - but it really was my dream job for few different reasons. On a personal level, I'm excited to get back to the Midwest - I grew up in the Chicago area and [still have family there]. On a city level, Columbus is such an exciting city, a city that is progressive, a cultural place that is fun and easy to be in, a smart city. And Columbus is a parent's dream. It's a great community for students and young college graduates.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your own personal art history?

A: It is in fact art history! I'm actually not a practitioner of art. I got my bachelor's and master's degrees in in art history, primarily studying late 20th century contemporary American art. I studied art as a younger student, and was fascinated from the beginning with the role that the arts play not only reflecting the cultural moment, but shaping the cultural moment. That kind of influenced my art history studies.

Q: How does that study relate to being at a place where you're training practitioners of art?

A: Hopefully it's incredibly relevant (laughs). Coming from a background where I spent so much time analyzing [and] trying to understand what artists are doing and the role they play in shaping culture gives insight into what it means to educate an artist. I think I have a passion for art and design education that reflects the kind of zealousness that newly converted have. There is something about the pedagogy of art and design education that is so relevant for our 21st century culture and economy.

Q: The arts community here certainly understands the quantity and quality of the work being done by CCAD students and graduates. What can an institution like this do to participate in, move and shape the arts scene in Columbus?

A: I do feel like CCAD has a huge impact and reputation within city. Everyone I've met is so excited about CCAD. The opportunity for CCAD students, alumni and the institution to influence the culture arts community in the area is giant, and is such because so many of our alumni stay in region, because it's a great place to be a young entrepreneur.

Q: How do you see the institution's role in the city [at large]?

A: My goal is to make sure that [CCAD and the city] are far more integrally tied to each other. Columbus is such a fantastic city, and it's in a wonderful Renaissance that's really focused on the creative economy and arts and culture. CCAD, I think, is and should be even more the driving engine of that. I do feel like my role as President is to not only be the leader of CCAD, but also be one of leaders of Columbus along with other important government, business and community leaders to help push Columbus forward.