Photo by Morgan Grana

Making the best of what he has been given is not new to Lukas Flynn, who in high school had his pick of only two art courses. Flynn is a third-year art major who has been practicing art since childhood. Currently, Flynn is grappling with whether to continue pursuing a degree in a department that he says has had to cut back courses in his area of interest, the fine arts.

“Most of my gripe with the art department is around the fact that the department is heading in the direction of being more focused with conceptual art,” Flynn said. “As a fine arts focus, it is more difficult to get into painting and art classes.”

Flynn said the art department is shifting away from fine arts in favor of “intermedia” and conceptual art and thus “funneling students into the conceptual art arena.”

“In my opinion, conceptual art cannot really be taught,” Flynn said. “The university acts like an arena, whereas in fine art, there is a kind of a science about painting — there is a lot that can be taught.”

Flynn said the prestige of the print shop initially attracted him to UCSC, but the decreased number of courses in that area and other fine arts areas offered next year is disheartening.

“Due to budget cuts, they are having to phase out programs that I am focused in,” Flynn said. “I don’t think asking for two studios a quarter in my area of focus is asking too much. It has become a luxury and it shouldn’t be that way. It is getting to the point where I do not think that I can maintain my art degree.”

If Flynn had known of this trend prior to attending UCSC, he would not have attended.

“I would not have come to Santa Cruz if I had known that it would have been this difficult to get into classes I am interested in,” he said. “I would have looked more carefully at art schools.”

The scarcity of classes in the fine arts, Flynn said, is pushing students into facets of art that may not be in their field of interest, essentially “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just to graduate.”

“I don’t want my education to filled with placeholders and requirements. I will be here forever if I am having to wait to take classes that are in my focus,” Flynn said. “I would love to graduate with an art degree from here, but I need to prepare for if I can’t.”

Flynn plans to continue with art and pursue postgraduate education in the field, but because of the lack of courses for his area of focus, he may drop the art major and focus on anthropology.

“At this point, my money will be better spent majoring in something else then going to art school,” Flynn said. “Naturally, I am worried I won’t get in to art schools without a degree in art.”

Flynn came to UCSC with the intent of adding a major in conjunction with his art degree, but did not foresee having his secondary major become his main option.

Considering the increasing cost in tuition, Flynn’s choice in degree is increasingly based upon “getting his money’s worth.”

“I always wanted to double-major and it is a public school, so I thought it would be affordable,” Flynn said. “Let’s just say I am glad I only have one year left.”