TWiP 478: The Rise & Fall of Brooks Institute

Brooks Institute, a visual arts school whose alumni include Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize winners announced last week the end of their 70-year run.

After years of declining enrolment, tighter federal rules on for-profit schools and efforts to move the school to downtown Ventura, California – representatives announced the doors will permanently close on October 31st, 2016, and that all classes in the fall semester have been cancelled.

I was acting Chairman of the Board for the school up until last week, when myself and the remaining board members made individual and unanimous decisions to resign from the board – following the termination of the school’s president, by the parent company.

In this interview, I sit down with Jeffrey Burke, a former Chairman of the Board at the school to discuss the impact of this closure, what’s next for the students, faculty and the for-profit education industry in general.

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About Jeffrey Burke

JT Burke uses the mad photo skills that he has accumulated throughout his working life to create glimpses of a personal Paradise. His visions are cobbled together using vintage costume jewelry, each piece individually photographed and cataloged and then digitally collaged into ornate compositions that straddle the boundaries between representation and abstraction.

His inspiration is drawn from many sources including Hieronymus Bosch, Dr. Seuss, Byzantine iconography, 20th century modernists and 12 years of Catholic school education. His tightly editioned, digital compositions have been exhibited in Barcelona Spain, Bristol UK, New York City, throughout California, and have been featured in various publications including Juxtapoz and Huff Post Arts.

JT Burke lives and works in South Pasadena, CA.


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  • Frederick, kind of what happened with Kelbyone… these type of schools are outdated. Youtube it’s the way to go. Thanks for sharing your work, I do enjoy it, very much.

    • lvthunder

      No Kelbyone was just mismanaged. Scott took his eye off the ball and started shooting football and having fun and let the technical problems of the site continue. You can tell just by looking at Scott’s blog that he has lost a lot of his audience. It sounds like Brooks’ problem was more from external pressures (real estate, government rules, etc.) that led it to this point and not a lack of interest.

      Youtube is the way to go if you only want to learn how one tool works. It’s not good at teaching the entire program like places are. Places like Brooks gives you a better education than Youtube because you get feedback back from the assignments and projects you have done.

  • Paul Johnston

    As Jeffrey Burke indicated, the most important thing is that Brooks Institute do the right thing and assist those students near graduation to get placed somewhere to finish up their degree, even though it will not be from Brooks. Hopefully the prestige/accreditation of Brooks will carry through to other institutions in accepting former Brooks students and allowing them to finish with some sort of degree.

    • lvthunder

      Yeah, but this semester is probably shot for a lot of those students. Even if they find a new school and go through the process of getting transferred a lot of the classes they need will probably already be full. If the owners really cared about the students they would of made the announcement and instead of saying that the school is closing now they should of said the school is closing at the end of the semester. That would give the students a chance to continue their education uninterrupted.