Linda King Brown is PCA&D's Chair of Liberal Arts. She attended Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York for her undergraduate education where she majored in English and minored in Art History, often researching and writing about the intersection of poetry and art. Her honors thesis focused on the work of poet John Ashbery and his connection to the Abstract Expressionist artists of the 1940s and 1950s, and another capstone project explored the poetry of William Carlos Williams and the work of the avant-garde artists of the early 20th century. During college, she lived in Florence, Italy for three months and gained an even deeper appreciation for art history. She then attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago for graduate school and earned a masters in journalism.
From there, she headed 30 miles out to sea and became a staff reporter for the Nantucket Island Inquirer & Mirror. Life eventually led her to PCA&D in the fall of 2005. Linda's love for the written word and for art history made her a good match for teaching writing, communications, and literature at an art & design college.
Outside of teaching, Linda also writes poetry and has participated in readings at various local venues over the years. In 2010, she was appointed as PCA&D’s “poetry guru” and led the poetry selection committee for the Poetry Paths installation by Mary Szybist and PCA&D alums Root 222 in the College's portico.
LB: The Liberal Arts Department at PCA&D has designed an engaging and dynamic curriculum for students earning their BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree) in one of our our five majors. An array of courses in Art History provide students with a multilayered understanding of historical precedents in making and viewing art, while courses in oral and written communication, the humanities, social sciences, math, and science are designed to challenge and inspire students to engage in research, writing, speaking, critical thinking, and problem solving across the disciplines. The Liberal Arts classes are where students refine their academic and professional skills, but they can also be a powerful well of inspiration, allowing students to explore subjects beyond their studio courses that are interesting to them, sometimes informing their visual work.
Learning from instructors who are experts in their respective fields, students can take courses in film, creative writing, popular culture, literature, philosophy, poetry, linguistics, world-building, psychology, sociology, science, art history, music, and others. Field trips to museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The MET, and the Walters allow students in art history classes to directly engage with the work they are studying. The Theater class instructor takes students to local plays and encourages them to dabble in dramatic performance themselves via improv exercises and original productions. Hands-on science classes bring students to the Shuts Environmental Center and Indian Echo Caverns.
Experiential and active learning are tenets of the Liberal Arts program. For the past several years, the Liberal Arts Department has also sponsored the Diverse Voices Speaker series, bringing in performers and speakers for atrium talks and interactive events that highlight the diverse worldviews of participants. Highlights have included performances by Native American dancers, musicians, and storytellers such as Red Hawk Native American Arts Council and Spirit Wing. Classical Indian as well as West African dancers have led lecture/demo classes, and poets and storytellers such as Le Hinton, Gracie Berry, and Barbara Buckman Strasko have inspired students with the artistry and power of their spoken word pieces. This past March, three partners of PAVAA gallery in Lancaster (Gerri McCritty, Marion Coco Coleman, and Tyrell Hoff) came in to speak with students for an atrium talk that celebrates their mission to celebrate African art, music, and culture.
What are some of the characteristics of students who are most successful in your department?
LB: The students who thrive in their Liberal Arts (LA) classes are the ones who embrace the importance of their LA courses early on in their journey to earn their BFA. The students who recognize the connections between the studio and liberal arts and the students who are open to expanding their minds in ways that may be challenging and eye-opening will be rewarded with a rich education that they may not have originally anticipated. Students who engage, work hard, and complete their LA course work with drive and a positive attitude will become stronger thinkers, communicators, and makers. Curiosity and a passion to learn new things is at the heart of a Liberal Arts education.
Have you stayed in touch with many of your students after graduation?
LB: I have kept touch in with many students after graduation. One of the wonderful things about teaching oral and written communications classes at PCA&D is that I have had almost every student in the school in one of my classes before they graduate. One graduate I keep in touch with, Brittney Hippensteel, is now a graphic designer at Email Aptitude, and she owns her own successful candle business called Hamilton Wax Co. Another graduate I am in touch with often, Laura Luce, is still working as a fine artist and showing in galleries locally. Both Brittney and Laura talk about the importance of their Liberal Arts courses when they look back on their education at PCA&D.
Could you share a favorite memory from your experience teaching at PCA&D?
LB: My favorite memories all surround moments when students discover that the same creativity and skill sets they apply to their studio work can give them the tools necessary to thrive in another genre of the arts. When I teach the poetry class, it is remarkable to see certain students blossom into poets. When they find their voice and begin to see language as an artistic medium, capable of creating precise imagery, sound, and meaning, they open themselves up to the power of language to illuminate experience. One year, a student used the titles of her poems from the poetry class as the titles for her senior thesis pieces. That was an inspiring moment for me as an instructor.
If there was one thing you wanted students considering PCA&D to know about the college, what would it be?
LB: At PCA&D, the faculty and staff truly care about your educational experience. We want to be your partners as you explore your unique creative vision and grow as an artist, designer, scholar, and human being.