The mission of the state college of art is to provide training in the fine and applied arts for all citizens in the commonwealth who seek it — From the inaugural document.
The controversy: mission versus fate.
The meaning of one hundred years: four generations.
At the outset, for the first generation, the mission of the state college of art must be interpreted most broadly—and is—as the requirement to train—in a private home converted for the purpose, and as economically as possible—enough teachers of drawing to provide lessons to every public school student in the commonwealth.
Thus provided, the young citizens of the commonwealth may be allowed to discover talents which will necessitate further development at the state college of art.
The second generation travels to the capital city to apply its nascent drawing skills to further study at the state college of art, newly housed at the old infectious disease hospital which has been scoured and converted for the purpose. The commonwealth's investment is now sizeable enough to have created the expectation that its program of studies, studios, faculty and overseers, will maintain while being maintained in an attempt to address the needs of the commonwealth.
There are still not enough artists.
The old hospital burns down, but the state college of art is saved through a special petition to the legislature by its trustees. In the bankrupted office and abandoned industrial spaces leased by the commonwealth to itself and converted for the purposes required, the third generation encounters and conquers the beret.
Arriving in wave upon wave at the capital city, the fourth generation stakes out what remains of empty space and fresh air free to fill with solvent fumes, continuous jazz radio and controversial notions.
Finding itself awakened almost nightly to the chance that there may be enough artists now, the commonwealth establishes income requirements for those, such as artists, whom it has hitherto supported.
In its new quarters on the former campus of another state college ruined by mismanagement—a city block of buildings converted to accord with federal law—the state college of art assumes the appearance of permanence. There are a weekday program for full-time students, weekend workshops for children and families, and night classes which attempt to reproduce the day curriculum for working adults. It becomes customary to allot advanced spaces in the day program for students who find it more convenient to matriculate after several terms of night classes.
Every day the capital city greets new arrivals seeking places at the state college of art as students, as teachers, as workers who want to take classes cheaply—competing for places, too many artists—
they travel to the state college of art from all over the world, now, from homes overstuffed with the art they leave behind—
  • the kitchen windows and refrigerators nearly lost in drifts of scissored snowflakes and tinfoil valentines
  • the living rooms that suffocate with pride in first-framed efforts—portraits of family and presidents, landscapes filled with covered bridges, mallards, long-maned horses rearing
  • the thumbtack-driven palimpsests of picture-papered childhood bedroom walls which threaten to collapse upon an impenetrable surface clutter constructed from paintboxes and kit models, soldering torches and clay.
By bus, bicycle and trolley, on foot and in cars, the successful applicants commute to an island in a fast-moving stream of diesel fumes,
a factory for the production of earning artists, outfitted with the latest technologies, policies, standards and practices.