primalmommy on mon 31 oct 05
Linda, I appreciate your insights on this whole thing. Of course you are
right, the MFA is about challenging yourself as a potter, and finding
your own voice. I don't think anybody is assuming it's a guaranteed
ticket to a job.
Neither was my masters in Folklore. In fact, my buddy at Microsoft
teased me endlessly about what a good investment my degree would be when
I was climbing the corporate folklore ladder ;0) I did manage to find
some pretty exciting and jobs with it (and nice paychecks!), by working
on grants, a year here and a year there. for as long as I was single and
able to move from place to place. I interviewed moonshiners and coon
hunters, granny midwives, tugboat men and Chesapeake bay crabbers,
jubilee gospel singers in the AME churches and Amish farm wives. It was
a hoot, and supplied me with adventures and stories and a wide
perspective about who we are as a culture.
But life has a way of shortening one's leash. My Jeff wanted to do
marine biology. We met as he was finishing an associates in marine tech,
and he would have loved to continue his education in the ways of his
beloved ocean. But he married me, and I wanted to be near my family, so
his MS is in limnology (lake studies) and his life is now about heavy
metals in inland lakes, zebra mussels and murky shallows. Not exactly
Jaques Cousteau.. but it's a compromise he made, for family.
My point (there is one, really) is that if life were different, I might
make other choices. If we could afford to, we might have sent our kids
to the wonderful private school here in town. That wasn't an option, so
we teach them at home, using some of the same methods and materials, and
find them tutors and coaches and music/art teachers to make a nice
'do-it-yourself' education. We look at packaged curriculum for hundreds
of dollars and then get it from the library. For a fraction of the cost
of tuition at the private school, we can by a nice telescope,
microscope, science equipment, and a pop-up camper to travel for
And I try not to allow "sour grapes" into the equation. I am not going
to pretend we're better for the kids than the private school, and Jeff
won't claim the Great Lakes are more interesting than his beloved ocean.
I would LOVE to do an MFA for the challange and stretch, even if it
never made me a dime later.
(And I bristle at anything that starts to sound anti-academic. I taught
at colleges, I am a product of colleges, and I worry about the rising
undercurrent of anti-intellectualism I see all around me. Some local
conservative homeschoolers don't intend to allow their daughters to GO
to college, lest they be infected with liberal thought or (gasp) choose
a career instead of marriage/home/babies.)
But if the MFA is not, practically or financially, a possibility, the
question is whether I can recreate for myself some semblance of that
experience. I think that's the issue that leads people to say, "You
don't need an MFA unless you're going to teach college." (Which isn't
the same as "An MFA will get you a teaching degree". )
I can make myself master the difficult texts, I can add up the hours in
the studio. While my contact has been short, in week and weekend
workshops, my list of instructors is long -- Josh DeWeese, Lana Wilson,
Leah Leitson, Julia Galloway, Kevin Crowe, Jack Troy, Mark Bell, Frank
and Polly Ann Martin, clayarters Dannon Rhudy, mel jacobsen, Vince
Pitelka, David Hendley, Karen Terpstra, Nils Lou, and Tony and Sheila
Clennell. Many, many more, and some of them more than once. I have even
met and chatted with Peter Voulkous and Don Reitz and watched them work.
Locally, I have mentors and friends in Edith Franklin and Ann Tubbs. Ann
shows up in my driveway every time she cleans out her studio with a car
load of ware boards, cornwall stone, odd glaze buckets and gadgets. She
is always "on call" for my questions, as well.
The Toledo Potter's Guild is a nice resource, and two minutes away from
my house by bike. We take road trips to Functional Ceramics, ACERS
events and other driving-distance workshops and exhibitions. We have our
own workshops, bringing in some great potters (Piepenburg last year,
Diana Pancioli next weekend) and I teach kids and adult classes, pushing
myself to learn new techniques to demo, and bringing them home new rodeo
tricks from every workshop I attend.
And then there's clayart. I measure my breadth of knowledge by what
small percent of the posts are over my head, compared to when I signed
on years ago. I have met such wonderful potters in real life, because of
this list, any of whom I can email for advice and support. Ron and John
and Alisa in Denmark have been my glaze instructors.
It's not an MFA, to be sure. One of the problems is that nobody on
clayart or at workshops sees my pots. Self-critque can be dicey, as
emotions and ego interfere. Same with critiques from friends.
Linda, I have never met you in person, but even my kids recognize your
pots in the books, magazines, and the posters in my studio. Just your
name in my inbox made me holler to my hubby, "Hey! LINDA ARBUCKLE
replied to my thread!" I was really honored. Because I know your POTS,
and thus your name.
And the pots are the important thing, right? Whether I can blather about
potting on clayart or write the check for workshops really doesn't mean
anything, if my work isn't there. I am pretty shy about my pots, and
don't include my website link in my posts, because I make my $ selling
to non-potters and don't feel ready to throw my work out to the big
dogs. I wish I had critique, but don't want it from people I care about.
It would be too painful. I was so relieved when mel swept my studio with
a quick glance, saying, "nice, lovely, nice, nice." I really didn't want
him to take on my pots one at a time and give me the scoop.
As much as I dislike the teacher teacher-as-queen-giving-grades
equation, there are some things that can only happen in that atmosphere.
My own teaching has taught me that. And those are the things I can't get
from my peers, especially as my work gets better and better.
This is longer than I meant it to be. I am glad you reminded clayarters
that the MFA isn't a ticket, and the process is more important than the
end product. I still think that one day if time and money allow, I will
find a way to do it. Brad Schweiger can't teach me to build kilns in a
weekend workshop, and there are certain things I can't do alone in my
studio, no matter how many books I read or pots I make.
Kelly Averill Savino in Ohio... still a little freaked about Tony's
epitaph for me. It's so... halloweenish. But I intend to do the
tombstone exercise with my kids this morning when we sit down to
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Kathy Forer on mon 31 oct 05
On Oct 31, 2005, at 10:56 AM, primalmommy wrote:
> I interviewed moonshiners and coon
> hunters, granny midwives, tugboat men and Chesapeake bay crabbers,
> jubilee gospel singers in the AME churches and Amish farm wives. It
> a hoot, and supplied me with adventures and stories and a wide
> perspective about who we are as a culture.
How about doing a PhD on Craft Folklore? Continue with workshops and
exhibitions and approaching sales, but have a more multi-disciplinary
approach to a degree. You'd miss out on the availability of blow by
blow critiques, but make a possible way in through the side door.
How about "A folk history of the academic clay studio experience" or
"how academia has changed clay culture" or "another college studio
roadside clay attraction"? Or something that would require hands on
research or at least studio access.
BFA '82 and nonissued '92 Certificate of Completion for 2 year
atelier course of study
Elizabeth Priddy on mon 31 oct 05
Now that's an idea...
A place to start would be a book called
"Raised in Clay", The Southern Pottery Tradition, by Sweezy
It's more a folk history book than a techniques work book.
I bet you could work studio stuff into a thesis on Folk pottery
and clay whistles, whisky rings, and face jugs would be an
interesting connection to things you already make.
Look into a MFA in Multidisciplinary Studies. That can be
virtually anything you want it to be. Duke University has a
program, so I bet there is one near you.
Might even be able to swing it at your husband's school.
Just a thought. I like weaving various aspects of life together.
--- Kathy Forer wrote:
> On Oct 31, 2005, at 10:56 AM, primalmommy wrote:
> > I interviewed moonshiners and coon
> > hunters, granny midwives, tugboat men and Chesapeake bay crabbers,
> > jubilee gospel singers in the AME churches and Amish farm wives. It
> > was
> > a hoot, and supplied me with adventures and stories and a wide
> > perspective about who we are as a culture.
> How about doing a PhD on Craft Folklore?
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