The status of the Maryland College of Art and Design in Silver Spring as a: two-year professional art college has been recognized by the National Association of Schools of Art (NASA).
The association, which is designated by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the accrediting agency for schools of art and design, his granted the Maryland college candidate status in Division I, the category for professional art school.
According to Samuel Hope, executive secretary of NASA, "candidate membership not only gives our stamp of recognition, but indicate that the institution wants to be involved in the process of accreditation and that's a very positive thing,"
Recognition means that the Maryland college is well on the way to accreditation and will be fully accredited in five years.
Last November the college, along with St. Louis Community College at Florrisant Valley is Missouri, became the first two-year school to be acknowledged by NASA. All other Division I members, including such well-known schools as the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, have four-year programs.
"It' difficult to start a college, but it's exciting," said the Maryland college's president, Terrence Coffman.
Dean Christopher Bartlett agrees.
"To be in at the grass roots level of an institution is very exciting. There's not [Word Illegibles] of bereaucracy," he said.
The college was begun in 1955 as the Maryland School of Art and Design by Ed Lipmann, owner of The Art Shop, an art supply store in Silver Spring. Richard Harryman, an area portrait painter, took over the school from Lipmann and turned it into a non-profit, tax-exempt institution in 1970.
Joining the school in 1971, Barlett and Coffman helped develop its two-year certificate program. When Harryman later resigned, Bartlett and Coffman took on administration of the school, holding it together despite several moves and financial difficulties.
After a particulary difficult period in 1974 - the faculty agreed to work one month going - Coffman approached an area developer, Homer Gudelsky, for help in finding and financing a permanent home for the school.
With Gudelsky's help and other private donation the present building and surrounding lands at 10500 Georgia Ave. were purchased in November 1976 from B'nai Israel, which had used the facility as a day school. The school moved in immediately, charged its name to the Maryland College of Art and Design and initiated a degree program. One year later came recognition of its accrediation goals by NASA.
Both Bartlett and Coffman sat there are no plans to become a four-year college. Both would like to keep the special atmosphere and close teacher-student relationship which a small school makes possible.
"Because we are small we have not lost sight of what it is all about," said Coffman. "It's about the students - that's why we're here.
The enrollment averages between 150 and 200 students with a teacher-student ration as low as 1-9 in some classes and never higher than 1-20. Teachers are called by their first names.
"It's not a factory producing people you label artists," said Anna Rasinska, a Polish student begun when her father, a diplomat, was posted inWashington. "You don't have to be in a school to study art. if you don't find the environment that helps you, you don't have to be there. In this school, I found people who are important to me."
"They help build up a special confidence, the confidence that goes along with being very professional," said student Kathy Thomas. "They make you proud of what you do."
Since all of the teaching staff is drawn from practising professionals, full-time teachers are required to teach only three days a week, leaving time for their own work. One full-time instructor, silkscreen artist Krystyna Marek, is a founder and active member of the Printmakers Workshop, a cooperative at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria.
The college also draws upon artists in the area for the part-time instructors and guest lecturers. Robert Altemus former art director of the Washingtonian magazine and now a free-lance illustrator based in New york, is among several professionals who augment the shool's staff.
The primary thing about the Maryland College of Art and Design, said its dean, Christopher Bartlett, himself a free-lance illustrator, is that "it's one group of people excited about art trying to get another group of people excited about it."