Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
This blog is intended as a guide for potential and current MFA students, focusing on those in the craft disciplines. It will primarily focus on tips for prospective students, but will also address the needs of those currently working toward their degrees. By sharing my own experience, articles I find and interviews I conduct, I will work to offer guidance to studio artists who may be nervous to start the journey alone so that they can have the same phenomenal opportunity and experience that I had in my MFA program.
Location: Kent, Ohio
Latest Activity: Mar 5, 2018
When I decided that I wanted to apply to an MFA program, I had been out of school for two years. I quickly became aware of the fact that I hadn’t the slightest idea of where to start. My first thought was to search online, and though Google returned thousands of websites for MBA’s and law students, I couldn’t find a single comprehensive resource that guided me as a prospective studio art graduate student. And so I went on to contact past professors and anyone who knew anyone who knew an MFA student, so that I could piece together answers to my many questions: What does my portfolio need to look like? Which school and program are right for me? What can I expect at an interview? What can I expect from an MFA program?
I ended up with an acceptance letter and Graduate Assistantship at Kent State University, but there were a lot of times during my journey when I felt lost, confused and overwhelmed. It was then that the idea first came to me to write a blog for blossoming artists like me thinking about an MFA: an all-inclusive guide to graduate school for studio artists, focusing on crafts media. The resulting blog, The MFA Guidebook for Studio Artists, will include information on finding schools, the application process, how to create a portfolio, funding opportunities, differences in programs, what to expect and more. It will also go on to address needs of current graduate students, such as how to take advantage of your time in school and options after graduation. It will include entries based on my own experience, events I attend, articles I read and interviews I conduct with faculty and fellow students.
After finding my own way into the doors of an MFA program, I feel that I have a great deal of insight to offer prospective students. This blog will aim to offer guidance to those who may be nervous to start the journey alone so that they can have the same phenomenal opportunity and experience that I’m having now in my MFA program.
Below: Me in my graduate studio at Kent State; Modern Woman, T-shirt transfers on cotton, turf, fabricated sterling silver and copper, 2008, 2½” x 3” x ¾”
Started by Jessica Todd Jan 15, 2017. 0 Replies 0 Likes
The grand entrance - for some - of the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon, where the 2016 Alliance of Artists Communities conference was held. Perhaps the greatest take-away for me from the Alliance of Artists Communities conference I attended…Continue
Started by Jessica Todd. Last reply by Jessica Todd Jan 2, 2017. 26 Replies 4 Likes
Photo by Erica Thomas, The ARTIST IN RESIDENCE sign is lit whenever someone at the house is doing creative work. The first standout theme from the AAC…Continue
Started by Jessica Todd Oct 28, 2016. 0 Replies 0 Likes
Postcard by Sharita Towne for the Exhibition Our City in Stereo, presented by Newspace Center for Photography in partnership with c3:initiative. Sharita spoke in the session, “Arts and Equity in the Neighborhood.” http://www.c3initiative.org/sharita-towne--c3studio-residency.html Community…Continue
Tags: practice, outreach, social, engagement, community
Started by Jessica Todd Oct 14, 2016. 0 Replies 2 Likes
Alliance of Artists Communities Annual Conference in Portland, OregonLast week I attended the Alliance of Artists Communities annual conference in Portland, Oregon, with my organization, the Rauschenberg Residency, a program of the…Continue
Tags: review, conference, inclusion, administration, artists
Tom, couldn't agree more! One of the most important - and often overlooked - qualities in someone teaching art subjects is "self-reflection". There are rather too many people resting on their laurels.
I don't know Alan, but if you want to put me in touch with him, I'd be delighted to meet and show him round.
By the way, Dauvit...say hello to my good friend Alan Phillips if you see him. He's retired from teaching, but I think he will be in your territory soon.
Hello Dauvit...well stated. Yes, honesty is the best policy. Along with all the stress of being a student of the arts, it is important to clear the smoke from time to time and take a sincere look at yourself, where you are going, your abilities, and other idiosyncracies. The best you can be comes from within.
It's better to inspire than influence.
I have to say that I view one of my roles as a tutor as being that of preventing my students from emulating me! Not that many of them try; perhaps a couple over the years. Unfortunately, we can all name places where emulating - or at least flattering - the tutors gets you your degree. Perhaps this is not so bad in the US? It is a bit of a problem in some places in Europe.
Honesty is the main thing. I always go on at length - probably boring length! - about the importance of artistic integrity and honesty and being true to one's vision.
Jessica...you are fortunate to have such an open minded head of department. Regardless of that, listen to everything and everybody and then take from it those aspects that work best for you but don't forget the rest as they may someday have some significance for your next stage of development as an artist and a person. Good luck with your studies.
That is great advice, Tom, and a very good point to bring up for other readers. Part of the reason I chose to attend Kent State was because the head of the department, Kathleen Browne, was very open to my work moving in different directions. She encourages her students to pursue the kind of work they're passionate for, even if that means exploring other media (in my case, fibers). In my interview and still today I feel very free to follow my work where it leads me, rather than being pushed in one direction or another by faculty or classmates. This is an important thing to keep in mind when visiting programs during the application process.
What ever your specific area of study is, always keep in mind that the work you make and the direction you take should be based on who you are as an individual. Just because you admire another person's work, your teacher, fellow student, or other artists, remember that they are all different from you. Be yourself and don't let those responsible for your degree push you to something you are not. I could say more on an individual basis once I know a little about you and see what you are doing at the moment.
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