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mfa, vs good work

updated thu 21 oct 04


Wally on wed 20 oct 04

Yes, most people are indeed paralysed by degrees and titles.
I studied ceramics at Art Academy in evening classes for 12 years in
total. Besides ceramic instruction, had my share of art history and
nude model drawing as well, and all that jazz, though not as
extensive as in a full cyclus of daytime MFA training.
But I took extra private workshops to compensate, and swallowed any
available ceramic information available in books, internet and
But it never got me any degree, I will never be able to teach at any
Official School or University. Which is a shame, but not a problem.
On the other hand, I have been giving my own workshops for many
years, also in the States since 2003.
But these have been organised on a private basis.
No bragging intended, but they are usually sell-outs.
However, when sending my r=E9sum=E9 and portfolio to Claystudios or Art
Academys, their typical reaction would sound like "yes we're very
interested to organise one of your workshops, but your website does
not mention any MFA, and we really h=E0=E0=E0ve to mention th=E0=E0=E0t in our
advertising...If not, we are afraid that not sufficient participants
might be interested..."
Yes, people do seem to be "hung up on titles and degrees".
Frustrating, but I learned to live with it.
Which brings me to my point, relating to the recent discussions on
MFA and teaching jobs : does an MFA really makes anyone a good
artist, or a good teacher, or does it guarantee that a good teacher
will remain as such, once he/she has succeeded to get a full-life
appointment ?
I had marvellous teachers, who fully concentrated on their class,
gave invaluable individual tuition, and spent a lot of their free
time looking for information or arranging things they were not
supposed to do or get paid for. Others just got in and out of the
classroom during the 21 hours a week (but at full month pay) they
were supposed to be present....Spending 15 minutes or less on
ceramics every evening......Only interested in their (pretty big)
paycheck and 16 weeks of holiday per year...
Of course this is a local situation over here, suppose situation in
USA might be slightly different..... Or is it not ?

But, as you wrote, where it all comes down to, whether one has the
necessary paperwork or not, it is the quality and the energy of the
WORK that matters.
Whether it is fashionable or not, sells well in a gallery or not,
either or not irrespective of any made-after so-called project or
arty bla-bla that is so fashionable in MFA-education these days.
I am in the comfortable situation that I am not dependent on
ceramics for my income. On the other hand I don't have sufficient
time to finalise all the ceramic ideas that float in my head, which
is a serious drawback... But I do enjoy the luxury only making work
that I really like myself.
Any other human mamal that likes it as well, is just a bonus.
Just my 2 neurocents worth.
By the way, loved your Sartre quote.
Wally, Flanders, Belgium.

-- In, Lili Krakowski
> My point being that it is the WORK, only the WORK that you
personally NEED TO DO that matters. We are so hung up on degrees
and titles these days one forgets it is ONLY the work.
> One of the few things I remember as worth remembering from reading
Sartre is this: that by chosing the one we ask for advice we
indicate the decision we already have made.
> Lili Krakowski