search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

mfa elitist responds

updated fri 30 aug 02


Stephani Stephenson on thu 29 aug 02

I would sound stupid if I sat here and put people down who did NOT
have MFAs.
That would be ridiculously narrow-minded. Yet I am reading posts which
reveal a glaring sort of reverse snobbery .
Many paths we take.
It is possible that where you live , you might not find a master potter
to apprentice with, but you probably can find a college or community
college with a studio. There may even be a capable teacher at this
school near you. But whether or not you do that; anything, ANYTHING
that challenges your butt to learn is an option. Why make the division,
saying those who choose one path are better or worse than others? and
who says you only have one choice?

I have to laugh out loud reading posts from people who attend
community college or college for 10-12 years or more , without
getting a degree, disdaining people who go to school for 6-7 years who
DO get a degree! What?????

As for ELITE???? What??? Here's a glimpse into the secret elite life of
someone with an MFA......

I am on the computer right now at 12:30 AM (past midnight) . I started
at 7 AM answering customer emails and returning calls, working on a bid
for an upcoming project. went to the studio like I usually do at about
9:00- 9:30...unloaded a kiln, loaded a kiln, packed several boxes,
glazed some pieces, slammed down a quick salad for lunch, talked to a
local potter who stopped by to borrow, er , use some silica because he
ran out, finished a layout, wrote some invoices, worked on a design for
a piece, capped off the oil, transmission fluid and coolant in my car
while waiting for fedex, took some pieces over to a neighborhood
center to contribute to a local event. Got home at 6:45 PM, pulled off
my dusty , croaky, clothes, showered, slammed down a peach and a peanut
butter sandwich for dinner while laying prone on the couch for a scant
half hour while I 1) tried not to think about the places I was sore and
2) watched the 7 PM Simpsons. During the Simpsons I nodded off, probably
slobbering on the pillow. Reawoke to work on editing photos for website
till now. I will tumble into bed shortly . So Pooped I even forgot to
open the latest CM, ah tomorrow. This is pretty much the pattern 6-7
days per week. Ain't it glamorous???

All that stuff about mixing glazes, firing kilns, working with clay,
operating a computer? I learned the backbone of it in undergrad school,
expanded and deepened my skills in grad school .(BTW, a few of the
other grad students were EXCELLENT and highly skilled wheel potters
and worked in that manner. They shared their skills generously and also
taught, with full backing of profs ). But that isn't where skill
development stops, just one of the places it begins, or continues.
the stuff about invoicing, packing, customer service?
I learned that at a former day job. Simpson's is a relatively new and
sporadic habit.
Rich kid? hardly.
That's some real elite snobbish behavior going on there, wouldn't you

Room for improvement, reform in many MFA programs? absolutely,
positively. Do I think there should be more, better , other ways to
learn? to teach???Yes yes!!!

So I am saying yaz better watch out for tinybrain syndrome! It'll get
you, even in the privacy of your safe opinionated world!
Yes there are cliques and bubbles, enclaves and swamps. Guess what ,
those exist in many places. You are naive if you think colleges are the
sole lairs of the above. As naive as the person who thinks it NEVER
exists in those places!
You are naive if you think that everyone who goes to grad school
becomes a zombie elite participant in all of that. So snap out of it!
There's room for all of it. So celebrate it, because It is a long hard
ass haul (oh gee , I meant to say a walk in the park), no matter which
way you go!!!!!

Stephani Stephenson