12 July 2013

Why am I in Graduate School Again?

Good question. Luckily, I have some really great answers listed here in this post. I am having the time of my life being back in school for the third time (second graduate degree). There is so much to tell that I have to do it in short blasts, starting with this entry . . . 

The program that I am in perfectly lines up with my contracted employment in Singapore. So when I finish my time in Southeast Asia, I will also have an MFA. 

Here are some quick and dirty things that you should know about going to and being in graduate school, specific to art: 

It's better to have a full time job while in school than a part time job. Supplies are expensive. It's nice to know that I can now buy the supplies I need and still be able to pay rent when I leave the store. (This has not always been the case.)

Find a program that gives ample studio time. This program gives us close to 5 full days in the studio (counting weekends). It's vastly different than the last program I was in, where studio time had to be found in the wee hours of the evenings and possibly on a Sunday afternoon. Ridiculous.

Make the effort to look into low-residency programs: programs that are summer intensives. Our program is every summer for the next four summers (including this summer), which spans over 3 years. This is longer than most of the 2 year MFA regular term programs. And we have time to hold down full time jobs. Plus, we're given time to synthesize our summer learning throughout the fall and spring months.

Go to the best school you can go to. Period. 

Make friends. The connections you make in school will last a lifetime. (Just ask my friends from The University of Texas at Austin.)

I live in a dorm. By myself. This is the first time ever in my life that I have lived in a dorm. I'm 39. It's hilarious. And, it feels like camp. Art camp. Everyone lives here together. Some of us have private dorms and others of us have roommates. Just now I heard someone wheeling something down the hallway. It's midnight. Perhaps it was a keg.

My bed is the type that folds down out of the wall. I've always wanted a bed like that. I have a large kitchen and eating area, but the stove is down the hall in a common space. (Also hilarious.) I live on the 4th floor.

This program is so incredibly different than the last masters program I was in . . . For one, we have dinner parties where everyone can socialize and be together. I think in the past 4 weeks, we've had 5.

And being back in Baltimore, I get to see people I love a lot and used to hang out with . . . See Ms. Sarah above on the left? And on the right, a fun little get together in her backyard the first weekend I was back in town. It's so good to see old friends! 

Graduate school is fantastic for lots of reasons. I love getting peer and professor feedback on work that I am creating. Those our the mentors for the program above, from left: Zlata, Tim, Renee, and John. My weekly mentor is John. But everyone else is super-approchable and ready to talk about work at the drop of a hat. (I spoke with Renee for close to 2 hours today.) Talking about work with other people enhances my ability to better vocalize what I do, preparing me for future lectures and artist talks. 

I also like seeing demonstrations, above. This was a photo transfer using hand sanitizer. So simple, and with textured and beautiful results. I'll post a tutorial soon!

I also love MICA's resources. Here are a few of us getting a tour of the Fibers Department. I ended up sitting in on a Fabric Dye Equations class and fell in love!! I have scheduled three full studio days in this department: one in the dye lab, one in the weaving loft (see below), and one day working with soy wax.

Check out these Japanese dying examples below: gorgeous.

And then there's the digital labs where you can rent and print . . . I printed all of my photos for the Buoyant Echo show in this lab, at just below cost. And this past week, I rented an HD video camera to capture some footage of bouncing balloons.

My studio is located across the bridge from the main campus in the Bank Building (see above, left). Each student gets two--YES TWO--studio spaces. So I have one where I make stuff and another where I display stuff. They are conveniently located across the hall from each other. I love, love, love this arrangement. I chose my studio spaces on the lower level. The ceilings are higher and it's next door to the woodshop. Three cheers!

(Sometimes I look like this when I'm trying to figure out what to make . . . Luckily my stalling doesn't last long.)

Right outside my studio, it looks like this . . . Joe Squared is next door. A great little coffee shop is just down the street. A fabulous dive bar is across the bridge. And everything is within walking distance, which is awesome when you're carless!

One of my most favorite things about graduate school is learning about new artists. Artists who have been working and showing and teaching for years. Exciting artists who--in their mid-forties--are having shows at major museums: for the first time ever in their lives. It's exciting to see artists emerge after years of working hard and being in the studio! Have a listen to Jennie C. Jones below. She's amazing and I get to see her show at the Hirshhorn this weekend in DC. 

The piece above is created by a team of artists called Tiny Circus who work with children. One of my professors turned me onto them today and I can't stop watching their amazing animations! I look forward to trying one of these types of projects with my students when I return to Singapore.

And look . . . There's this guy. Stu. We call him Stu. 

Stu was found by my friend Suzy. In front of our studio building. He was in a cat carrier on top of a sculpture. It was midnight and someone just left him there. (Insert expletive here.) So we adopted him--all 37 of us. We keep him in Ash's studio, on the second floor near some big beautiful windows. (Ash is a painter from North Carolina.) Each of us visit him daily and make sure he has fun things to munch on and proper bedding. Nikki bought him a water bottle and gave him some wood chips. Suzy brought him lettuce, apples, and carrots. And I sliced up about 4 Singapore newspapers for him. Once rattled and shy, he's now quite happy and social!

These are some super happy art camp days!!