Art critic Ayşegül Sönmez has long pursued her dream of an art school. It is now becoming a reality with a fledgling grassroots initiative.
Sönmez has been a lecturer at the Fine Arts Department of Okan University for eight years, while also tutoring groups and the staff of various institutions on contemporary art and collectorship.
In addition, she has a background of teaching at Belgium’s HISK art school. HISK is a school where post graduate and doctoral level art students are able to select their own teachers. Within this structure, teachers are able to visit their students at their own studios and discuss their work.
With the influence of this experience, Sönmez has been envisioning an idealistic and free art education. In a way, she has come up with an anti-academic structure, rather like the Tavanarası phenomenon in Turkey in the 1950s, from which artists such as Atıf Yılmaz and Ömer Uluç sprung.
“Sanatatak Eğitim” (Art Attack Education), which will launch on Jan. 14, was born out of these thoughts. Its aim is to encourage independent artists, designing an education program that would address a social sciences student as well as a fine arts student, or a white-collar worker casually interested in philosophy, art and literature.
In this education model there are no titles such as professor or associate professor; there are simply trainers who hold classes with passion and people who want to attend class.
“Sanatatak Eğitim,” in short, says another education is possible. It is one small step on the path to Sönmez’s school dream.
It has prepared a different curriculum from different disciplines and has posted an appeal on its website www.sanatatak.com. Some of the trainers on the project come from among the respondents to the call, and readers of the website came forward with some wonderful suggestions. Professional educator Deniz Erben from Marmara University helped them evaluate these suggestions.
“For example, the Modern Greek course will be taught by Melike Karaosmanoğlu. The architects Mustafa Kemal Yurttaş and Esra Ertan will give lectures on cities and civilizations. The writer Vivet Kanetti will teach about why she loves F. Scott Fitzgerald so much.” Sönmez said.
There are also courses on Internet journalism, 3D techniques, social media expertise, and creative critique. Sanatatak.com editor Ali Murat Ergül will give the classes on Internet journalism and social media expertise.
Musician Efe Demiral, meanwhile, will help attendees listen to music with a critical eye. In the Eroticism and Politics class, attendees will look into the relationship between women, men and power from the end of 19th century until today.
What’s more, architect Volkan Taşkın will teach on Turkish architect and city planner Turgut Cansever, Suna Dirikan will teach on Divan Literature, and Ayşe Zeynep Hatipoğlu will teach on Turkish tambour virtuoso Cemil Bey.
Classes are due to come to an end on June 15, after which a camp will be held for students and educators in Palamutbükü in southwestern Turkey.
This is just one initiative, but it feels like a light in the darkness.