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(photo credit: Courtesy)
In 2005, then 22 years old, Gal Bar decided that she wanted to be an artist. She knew that despite her determination, her chances of success were slim. Maintaining her individuality during the learning process would be difficult, and often discouraged. So when it came time to enroll in an arts course, she did her homework. "I was afraid they would make me something I am not. It was very important for me to stay different," she explains.
Bar researched one art school after another, until finally she came across Dr. Bella Novisky's preparatory arts college in Herzliya. Novisky, a Doctor of Art and Design and an accomplished artist herself of more than 20 years, sat with Bar and helped her figure out what she personally wanted to do in fine arts, and devise a plan of action. Over the following 10 months in Novisky's fine arts preparation course, Bar says that she learned to see art not as a finished product, but as an honest expression of her personal journey.
By the time she had finished the preparation course, she was accepted into the esteemed Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem at first try. She is now enjoying her second year of studies in fine arts at Bezalel.
Bar was far from the only success story at Novisky's preparation school. "An average of 95 percent [of students] were accepted into higher education courses in their chosen field," Novisky claims triumphantly. After co-running the private school for five years with her husband, prolific artist Evyatar Stern, the entrance and success rates for students rose so high that it became necessary to expand the school into an official College of Art and Design, complete with a variety of preparatory courses and tertiary degree courses from architectural to fashion design.
This month, Novisky and Stern's dream of creating a holistic art and design school that focuses on each student's personal potential will be realized in Herzliya with the opening of Michlelet Bituy, Hebrew for "Expression College." The Bituy college will cater to a variety of students, from complete novices who have never held a brush to professional artists wishing to expand their repertoire.
The college will offer both preparatory courses tailored to individual students' needs and professional courses in a range of design subjects. The preparatory courses will aim to explore the fundamentals of the student's chosen discipline, while providing a taste of what working professionally in that discipline might involve. The courses will focus on individually preparing each student for entry into the higher education specialist design courses of their choice. The professional courses, says Novisky, will offer the same individual attention and benefits, but with internationally-recognized degree accreditations from the Open University in a range of subjects, including drawing, painting, interior design, digital photography, art therapy, informal art instruction and fashion design.
Novisky asserts that her secret joy comes from personally helping other people find their own path and achieve artistic success. To this end, in the Bituy college she aims to partially work with each student one-on-one, as she has done with Bar and countless other students in the past. "My deepest belief," she explains, "is that the possibility to express yourself is in everybody."
With the Bituy college, Novisky aims to address what she identifies as a common problem in the art education world as a whole - its focus on the end result rather than on the advancement of personal expression. She reognises that many students finish art school without the confidence to listen to their inner selves. They do not follow careers in art because the standard methods of art instruction thus far have focused on criticizing the end result, rather than developing the creative process itself.
Novisky believes that this can be damaging to young artists and notes that after having their initial endeavors carelessly disparaged, many lay aside the brush for a less creative career choice. "I was afraid that they would make me something I am not," Bar concurs, recollecting her initial foray into the world of fine arts.
Bar says that she cannot fault Bezalel for technical excellence in art and animation. She notes that the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan has an excellent reputation for fashion, architectural and jewelry design, although none of these are her particular discipline. She chose Novisky's studio course in Herzliya over the others because Novisky's personal attention "gets to me." She says that in many other arts schools she found that students learned to create "production line" art by focusing on how the end result should appear rather than the personal journey of creative expression, and sends a warning to other art students: "Don't let anybody sterilize you!"
At the core of the Bituy college concept is the self-growth and expression of the students themselves. "This was my dream from the beginning - that the person is at the center (of their artistic education)," asserts Novisky. To this end, each class in the college will be limited to 15 students in an effort to allow every student to draw personal attention from their experienced, handpicked teachers. Novisky also insists that each student, while focusing on their own chosen discipline, must gain an understanding of other fields of design in a symbiotic exchange.
For example, while Bar's focus during the preparatory school was on painting, she also learned the basics of sculpting, sketching, ceramics and about the creative processes of other artists.
The marriage of such a variety of subjects into one specialist school is to purposefully create a more holistic picture of aesthetic design, "to discover the visual scope of life," says Novisky. "Artists are thinkers," she emphasizes, and can contribute greatly to the betterment of a vibrant, multicultural society.
To elaborate her point, she takes an example from the cafÃ© we are meeting in: The clothes we are wearing, she explains, were designed and chosen deliberately for their aesthetic value. So was the table we are sitting at, the chairs, the walls and even the labeling on the sugar sachets perched on the table. Each of these parts has been individually designed with the picture of the whole cafÃ© in mind.
For Novisky, life itself is a complete picture, and the aesthetic care taken in producing that picture can impact heavily on the cultural development, social disposition, economy and even the self-evaluation of every person in society.
The Tel Aviv area is the example she invokes, where the past 10 years have seen an enormous improvement in aesthetic design and art appreciation. She believes that this has impacted on the social routines and dispositions of Tel Aviv residents, and also on economic growth by increasing property values and tourist appeal, "because it all creates our environment."
In Israel, she says, art appreciation and aesthetic implementation are still lagging a long way behind their often underestimated potential. The expansion of focus and alternative approach that the Bituy college brings to Israel's art community can only further this potential.
The Bituy College of Art and Design is still accepting applications. The first round of courses, beginning in October, may vary in length and price.
For more information, contact the college at 1-700-700892 or via the (Hebrew only) website www.bituy.org http://www.bituy.org