Remember when we introduced you to Madison Leeson, a newly minted graduate of our Criticism & Curatorial Practice program? Well, she’s back from delivering her presentation at the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) Student Success Conference in Brooklyn, New York, which was hosted by Pratt Institute last month. The conference brought together students, faculty and staff across functional areas of member schools to strengthen communication and learning for student success.
Leeson’s presentation, “Perceiving Failure: The Absurdity of a Cultural Obsession,” attracted a full house, running out of chairs for all the attendees and even running out of time for all the questions. Her most memorable question was, “Why didn’t you mention that failure is often one of the stepping stones to success?” Leeson replied that for most people, failure commonly leads to more failure, and that when we hear about failure leading to success, such as it did for folks like Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg or Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, these people are outliers. She likens it to an idea we often preach but never practice, “You only fail if you don’t have fun.” For Leeson, it’s more constructive for students to be told the truth, even if they don’t like it, than to mislead them about readily accepting mistakes and failures.
While Leeson valued the experience presenting at the conference and was impressed by the commitment of the participants in improving student experience, she noted the near lack of student presenters. “The sessions I was able to attend were all incredible and offered valuable insights, but I did feel like there could have been more student voices at the podium. That said, there were many great ideas presented and I’m excited to share those with OCAD U staff.” Leeson connected with the only other student presenter, a senior from the Kansas City Art Institute, to check out the city’s art scene, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney. Leeson also took in the NYC sights in Central Park, the Met and the Guggenheim.
“If I had one suggestion for the conference for the future, it would be for institutions to do more to reach out to students and encourage their participation in events like this,” said Leeson of the experience. “The policies these schools are working to develop will affect students the most, so it’s vital to actively recruit students — and for students to involve themselves and participate in the conversation.”
Thanks Madison; duly noted.
— Sarah Mulholland, Manager, Student Communications, OCAD University