Thursday, June 30, 2005

Welcome to the jungle…

I found the interview with Squeak Carnwath interesting, and her views on life after an M.F.A. were especially poignant in light of an article released by the AP this week.

To sum up both, if you don’t feel like reading the links, Carnwath claims that many people with M.F.A.s stop making art a few years after leaving school because they didn’t realize how difficult a lifestyle it is, and they aren’t willing to make so many sacrifices. The AP article, in the Christian Science Monitor where I read it, was titled, “Are Young Workers the ‘I’m Entitled’ Generation?” Its author discusses why many bosses are frustrated at hiring young workers, who increasingly demand benefits and flexibility normally given to only veteran employees, and who aren’t willing to do grunt work.

I suppose these phenomena are probably related. But it surprises me that art, which has always been a difficult career to find success in, would even attract people not willing to make a commitment to hard work in the first place. My guess is that if you asked the professors in M.F.A. programs which students would become practicing artists upon graduating, they would pick the ones that they saw as hard-working, committed to their art, and willing to accept adversity in exchange for creativity- not necessarily the most talented students.

I remember several conversations with a friend of mine, my “rich patron.” He chose a degree in engineering, and enjoys his job sometimes, but is more often frustrated by it. He makes what I consider to be a ton of money. He knows how poor I’ve been since moving to North Carolina and becoming self-employed. He also knows that my art is more important to me than making money. But he asks me, “how can you be happy being that poor?” Well, of course I’m not. Yet when it crosses my mind that maybe I should do something else for a living, I don’t really even give it much consideration. I know it sounds corny, like I’m some starry-eyed idealist, but I just can’t do anything else.

We’ve all heard ad nauseum that you have to suffer to create. I’m not sure this is a truism so much as it is a minor comfort for artists. But considering the number of M.F.A. recipients who seem to think it doesn’t apply to them, maybe it should be inscribed on every graduate’s diploma.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't worry - i don't know anyone who has ever thought of you as a "starry-eyed idealist".

11:57 AM  

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