Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Starving Artists, Inc.

In reference to:
“In the series art:21 that we watched today in class, some artists discussed their underlying motivations for turning to art as a career. Write an explanation of what kind of decision making process got you to your current point of studying art and participating in an M.F.A. program.”

I came across this most recent post on January Blog with a coincidentally (or not?) similar theme: the writer asks, “What, pray tell, is the point of graduate school?” Well, for me, I guess I wasn’t actually so concerned with the point when I decided to go.

As the aforementioned blogger illuminates, there are lots of reasons for pursuing an M.F.A. Perhaps galleries will pay you more attention. You have the opportunity of teaching at the college level if you so choose. I would add to this that an M.F.A. enhances a grant or artist-in-residence application. So there are certainly professional considerations involved. Many artists feel that somehow even thinking about these things is selling out, but unless you have a rich patron, get over yourself and face reality, or expect to paint in your closet and wait to get lucky.

I’m not saying that one absolutely can’t be successful without a Master’s. But recent studies have shown that most people without a college degree are no longer able to achieve middle-class economic status (unlike previous generations.) If it’s that much tougher for other Americans now, why would art be any different? In fact, art is notoriously harder to make a living in; so why not seek all the help you can get? And it’s not just financial- as I noted in a previous post, art is very much about making connections- “networking.” Being in school is a great place to do that. (How many of our visiting artists here at WCU had previous connections with the school in some way?) And of course, I’ve not even mentioned that schools are for learning (!) and how could that possibly be bad for someone who wants to make the most of their talent and hone their skills and message?

There’s nothing wrong with taking full advantage of the opportunities and privileges before you. All these things, among other, more personal issues, crossed my mind when I decided to go back to school. But, as I said before, I wasn’t as concerned with the point. Really, I just got to a place where I realized that the real world sucks. I’ve always liked school- and if I didn’t go back now, I probably wouldn’t have a more convenient time to go. This isn’t to say that I don’t think grad school will help advance my career- I hope to God it does!- but I’m honestly just really glad to be back.


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