From education to employment

Plymouth College of Art appoints new Vice Principal to oversee continued innovation

Christy Johnson, Vice Principal, Plymouth College of Art

Plymouth College of Art has appointed Christy Johnson as its second Vice Principal, in the most recent move in its development as a distinctive and innovative specialist Higher Education Institution (HEI) now embarked upon a year-long process of scrutiny on its journey to achieving Taught Degree-Awarding Powers (TDAP) and university title. Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art, which is a Founding Associate of Tate Exchange, offers a range of Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Pre-Degree FE-level study across Art, Design and Digital Media subjects.

In her new role as Vice Principal, Christy will be primarily responsible for academic leadership in research, scholarship and pedagogical practice. As an artist, educator, and academic leader, Christy has worked across international contexts gaining a cross-Atlantic perspective on teaching and learning, particularly an interest in expanded notions of curriculum, and how we create frameworks for independent learning within communities of practice.

Most recently, Christy was Professor and Chair of the Art Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she led the development of an integrated educational experience across the visual arts areas of Art, Design, Film and Media. She joined Cornish College of the Arts following eighteen years at University for the Creative Arts at Maidstone and Canterbury. Occupying a range of academic and leadership roles during this time, Christy led the School of Fine Arts as Associate Dean for three years until 2012.

Professor Andrew Brewerton said: “We warmly welcome Christy’s contribution to Plymouth College of Art’s senior leadership team at a time of dynamic ongoing development in the work of the College both as a creative academic community and as a catalyst for social and economic impact in and beyond Plymouth. Christy brings interesting transatlantic perspectives on academic leadership, curriculum development and contemporary practise that further extend the international scope of our work to date which has focussed principally upon the Far East. And as for relocating from Los Angeles for Plymouth? Well, wouldn’t you?”

Born in California, Christy is a Bachelor of Arts graduate, magna cum laude, of California State University at Northridge, and holds two postgraduate degrees with distinction, Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.

Her recent pedagogic research has involved looking at artist-led education models globally. Over the last two years Christy has developed The Landings, a residency program model that sets out to explore the intersection of curation, education, and production – a response to the critical debate regarding the efficacy of existing higher education models and the need for new paradigms inside, adjacent to, or outside the academy.

Christy’s interdisciplinary practice involves time-based media and the photographic arts. Through these processes she examines site – where context, culture and history become platforms for understanding the construction of identity.

Christy Johnson said: “Plymouth College of Art is one of the last remaining independent art schools in the UK and that’s something to be valued and protected in an age of mergers, takeovers and overly bureaucratic conditions in Higher Education. I’ve lived and worked in London, Seattle and Los Angeles, and I’ve chosen to come to Plymouth College of Art as I want to be part of, and contribute to, the continuum of creative education project. It is not enough to be a maker practitioner – and it is not enough to be a thinker. What the world needs is practical thinkers and thoughtful practitioners, and I believe that Plymouth College of Art is well positioned to lead in sketching out what that overlap might look like.

“The college’s facilities are some of the best I have seen and the commitment to old, new, and emerging technologies refreshing. The college’s mission and socially minded stance on education for the 21st century drew me to the South West, and I am excited to be here.

“The size of Plymouth College of Art enables us to be nimble, adaptable, to take risks and innovate, something sorely needed in Higher Education. I’m looking forward to ensuring that everyone at the college continues to ask questions around why we’re here and how we can create a challenging experience for students, that supports meaningful dialogues around the social and cultural impact of creative practice and the ideas of our time.”

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