From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

gradland: art and the MFA experience so far

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The first few weeks of the MFA program I felt as though I’d landed on Mars.  The culture was alien to me in many ways, especially after years separated into my own studio space, surrounded by programmers and anthropologists and neuroscientists and similar- compassionate creative ones.  I was struck again by what a strange breed artists are.  Since then I’ve gotten to know more of the place, and found people and ideas I connect with and have settled in.

The range is impressive though.   One professor (with a career I respect) will tell me that if I don’t create the piece I’m planning she will.  Another will tell me it’s not worth doing.  Another will tell me it’s a breakthrough work.  Subjectivity is still with us.

Last week I asked a professor a question to see how they would answer and was shocked when they replied that they couldn’t decide for me, that that was something I’d have to figure out for myself.  I was shocked at the very idea that someone would even think I would take their answer as a given!  I’ve never been one to go with any particular authority.  My parents have told me many times that from earliest childhood I had no awe about parents, teachers, movie stars or anyone really.  I see many things to respect in people, but I am always aware that they are human and form my own opinions.

I’ve always been a fan of this Walt Whitman passage from Song of Myself- it describes the listen-to-many sides-and-filter approach beautifully.

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun.... there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand.... nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

The whirl of ideas, reading and research, exposure to new artists and new art, the constant dialogue with other students, professors and visiting artists of all ages and backgrounds… it’s all wonderfully stirring.  It’s fuel for ideas, it makes me want to work more and faster.

…the big catch is that with all that there isn’t much time for making actual artwork.

I’m looking forward to winter break as a time to totally immerse myself in my work five days a week!  That’s something I haven’t been able to do since Elise was born four years ago.  I have two new interactive projects in the works.  One is now basically tested, finished and waiting for the right show to do it at.  The other is still in sketch-phase.  I may be doing another iteration of Identity Tapestry in the LA area in late January.  Details still in discussion.

Tomorrow I’ll be receiving one of the head curators at NYC’s MOMA for a studio visit.  Benefits of Grad School.

Written by Mary Corey March

November 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

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