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Otis College Remembers Fine Arts Faculty Member and Alumnx Michael Schrier (’65 MFA)

Otis faculty eulogize Schrier, who was the founding chair of the Foundation program and had been a fixture at Otis since 1983. 

The Otis Community mourns the loss of a giant on campus, Michael Schrier, an esteemed and beloved colleague and faculty member, and challenging and supportive instructor.

Linda Hudson, current Foundation chair stated, “I’ve never known anyone more knowledgeable about color, the history of pigments, and the psychology and the transformative power of the hue, chroma, and value. Michael and I bonded over histories of the color blue. We all benefited from learning and working beside Michael, he was an important mentor.”

Katie Phillips, a former Foundation chair and Michael’s longtime colleague and friend said, “Michael’s devotion to teaching was his best self at work.”

Joyce Lightbody, Adjunct Associate Professor in Foundation, and a long-time colleague and friend of Michael said, “Michael was a fearless, tireless educator. A life-long learner. A complex, ever generous, and truly soulful colleague.”

Michael Schrier tributeScott Zaragoza, Senior Lecturer in Foundation shared: “I feel so thankful and lucky to have been both a student of Michael’s and a colleague. He gave me my first experience of accepting and taking myself seriously as an artist. His reverence for materials and the act of making art showed me that to be an artist one must be able to show respect, patience, and to be able to dig even deeper, no matter how painful the experience may be. As a colleague, I continued to be inspired by Michal’s never-ending passion and commitment he had toward his students. He was always on the side of making Otis a truly special and progressive place of learning. Like all of the truly brilliant and inspiring teachers and colleagues I’ve known at Otis, he will forever cross my mind every time I pick up a series 7 sable brush.”

Digital Media instructor Bill Eckert shared: “Michael profoundly contributed to the Foundation department and curriculum and its rigor and excellence. Through the travel study program and lecture series at museums, many students were able to expand their horizon and experience the world over a quarter century. Michael continued to teach right up to the very end, even from his hospital bed. That was the level of his dedication and love for his students. I will miss him.”

Michael Schrier with Meg CranstonMeg Cranston, chair of the Fine Arts program had the following tribute: “Michael Schrier was an incomparable teacher, colleague, and friend. He made a profound difference in many artists’ lives, including mine. I have said it often before, the courses Michael taught over his long career ought to be in the Smithsonian, or maybe in his beloved Louvre. His color and design course, his incredible museum courses in Los Angeles and Paris, and his course in painting were second to none. 

“Michael walked fast, talked fast, and thought quickly, but as a teacher and scholar, he had the self-described patience of Job. He taught patience. The patience to look at what’s in front of you, do things thoroughly, and not kid yourself when something isn’t hitting the mark. Michael never gave students the answer. He never showed prior solutions to an assignment because he wasn’t interested in imitating what, as he said, was “already out there.” He believed every student could innovate provided they developed the behaviors that innovation requires. He taught those behaviors not only students but to all of us. When we or any one artist or designer managed to hit it he roared with pleasure and went as often said, ‘over the moon.’ We will so miss Michael Schrier.”

Images, from top: Schrier teaching painting at the Otis Mid-City painting studio, 2013; Schrier, right, with Fine Arts alumnx Alexis Afaghi (left) and Mark DeSiderio (center) in front of Thomas Hill’s Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, 1864, in the exhibition, Compass for Surveyors: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape, LACMA, 2013; Schrier and Meg Cranston in front of work from a student exhibition at Otis College, 2013. All photos by Holly Wilder.