I spoke with OCAD’s Dean of Liberal Studies, Kathy Shailer, about this issue shortly after this post. Shailer says that comparisons between OCAD textbook and other standard texts are unfair, since the OCAD-made custom text is designed to be broader than any one book would be.
“What this text does is bring together a very good art history text, and a very good design text, and a lot of material so that we could bring in aboriginal and Canadian art as well,” says Shailer. According to Shailer, most standard art history texts focus heavily on western European art history while giving less space and attention to Canadian or First Nations perspectives.
As Shailer notes, OCAD also needs to address the “D” in its acronym: design. This is something Shailer says wouldn’t be adequately covered by a single art history text.
“Design has more of a focus on objects, material culture, architecture, interior and graphic design. It has really evolved over the 19th, 20th century and is paid really short shrift in an art text,” says Shailer.
True. Design failure is what this issue comes down to. Had this been designed as an online reference with a spiral-bound offline study guide with references, I would have still argued the price but it would not have provoked quite the same visceral reaction.
The problem is that it was designed as a hardback finely bound glossy paged book with complete layouts for the pictures, and then… Lunchbag Letdown. Lucy Van Pelt came along and pulled away the football just as we were about to kick it.
It looks like an Art History textbook. It feels like an Art History textbook. It smells like an Art History textbook. It tastes like an Art History textbook. Good thing we didn’t step in it though, because it’s not exactly what it purports to be. The textbook definition of a sham.
Please take note that I’m not calling it a scam. I’m absolutely certain that this was done with the best of intentions, just poorly executed.