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Officials from the Corcoran Gallery of Art have confirmed the resignation of Christina DePaul, the dean of the Corcoran College of Art + Design since 2002. Corcoran Director of Media Relations Kristin Guiter said that DePaul will retain her title as dean through August 2008 but that Kirk Pillow, vice dean, will direct college functions. CCA+D will not be appointing an interim dean.
According to Guiter, DePaul will work for the next four months on a research project that will “focus on opportunities for the Corcoran to expand internationally in the art and design research field.” The Corcoran did not specify where, but a safe bet may be the Middle East, where there’s plenty of precedent set by art academies and institutions. Corcoran Dubai? Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in Qatar might serve as a model.
During DePaul’s tenure, overall enrollment at the school increased, and the CCA+D received license to offer its first graduate program; the school now confers master’s degrees in interior design, art education, and the history of decorative arts. The 2006 acquisition of the Randall School property in Southwest, which will host equipment-intensive classes in ceramics and sculpture, promises to expand college enrollment capacity further.
DePaul’s responsibilities increased with the arrival of Corcoran director Paul Greenhalgh, who rolled museum-sponsored education activities into the college’s mission. Greenhalgh and DePaul have brought some school functions into the museum’s exhibitions—tapping students and classes for exhibition design, for example. But the museum’s first show under Greenhalgh’s tenure (“Modernism: Designing a New World”) caused a flap among students, when DePaul announced, on the last day of the fall 2006 academic semester, that the massive exhibition would absorb space traditionally reserved for the senior thesis show. The show was relocated to the College Gallery, now called Gallery 1, off the New York Avenue entrance to the school. The museum, which was preparing “Modernism,” was closed. Senior-thesis shows at the Corcoran serve as a high-profile opportunity for undergraduate students to publicly display their work, often for the first time.
DePaul, who is also an accomplished sculptor, has received a large art commission, according to Guiter, which will occupy her time. So after she leaves, what’s the Corcoran going to do with DePaul’s studio? Current and former students alike whisper about the space—a complex as vast as it is deep underground. Situated somewhere among the tunnels connecting the Corc to the White House, of course.