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mel's "mfa, studio.what?"

updated tue 1 nov 05


marianne kuiper milks on mon 31 oct 05

Dear Mel,

You know I don't often reply to emails (well..) but I
have to reply to this one, for sure.

I'm so glad with what you wrote. So many things summed
up so well, from someone respected by, well, I bet

I am so hungry to learn. I am so eager to work 20 hrs
a day. When we first got married, Carl in med school,
I without a job and new in the US, after a very
succesful and profitable young career in Europe and NO
MONEY here (as in none), life was rough. Wanted to go
back to school, get and American degree to make things
easier. No $ for grad school. Ouch.

Then came the kids. Four marvelous ones and even less
money.Pediatrics? Right! We plowed along, still (and
still) madly in love. After almost 35 yrs mariage, 4
grown kids: writer/artist, photographer, musician,
childpsych., I am proud of them. We're still paying
off the loans but NOW we have money for me. Finally.
And that is what it takes: either now or to pay back
later and at 58 I'm not interested in "later" anymore:
I want it NOW. And I'm working for it.

I have found a love like none before. I didn't know
this really existed..this marriage between mind,
hands, heart. I am swimming, with relish, in waters
that I feel carry me along. Swimming actively, not
No, I have not had red liquid from a stemmed object:
it is early am and I have coffee. Looking at the joy
(frustrations, too) of a new day.

I have taken all the classes I found interesting and
that I might be in need of. Some were good, some were
useless. Met people like Lori Leary, who was more of a
stimulance than she may realize, in two of my classes
at Marywood. What a great gal!
Now I am looking at the certificate program at Hood.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Why? Because I will be learning,
because it will have a sense of organization and
direction. Right now, at this moment, I feel that I
need that. The certificate? Only because it would give
me a view of a sense of completion, nothing else. For

Am I "good"? Probably not. My kids and Carl think so,
but - for once - they do not count. I keep looking and
improving so, some day, I can say myself "Now, that
one feels good, that one looks good and it enriched my

I met you - Lori introduced us at NCECA Baltimore, but
you couldn't remember. Like many other things, it is
not of the essence for you. But you're an insporation
and for me, as are so many Clayarters, that's enough.

Thanks, Mel.

--- mel jacobson wrote:

> this has been worked over rather well on clayart
> over the last ten years...and will continue to be
> a topic of interest.
> degrees, studio time, shows, exhibits...what?
> so often people trudge down life paths thinking they
> should
> follow the crowd. do things is some sort of pre
> determined social order.
> college.
> degree.
> advanced degree.
> then you are ready to rock and roll.
> i have not found that to be true in the arts.
> the book `art and fear` claims it is surefire
> death for an artist.
> those getting mfa degrees, or having a major
> show in new york often never do art their
> life.
> when art is based on `idea` rather than skill and
> knowledge...
> once you have had your big idea...your life is over.
> when i go out around the country and teach...the one
> thing
> people want is `skill based, technique based
> information`. people
> are starving for information and skill. ` just show
> us how to do things.`
> the stories and chatter are fun, interesting...but
> what folks want is
> information on how to be a better potter, or...`what
> do i do with the
> stuff i make?` i try hard to change the lives of
> potters with skills
> that will enhance their work forever. and the
> letters that i get back
> after a workshop indicate it is working well.
> if you are on a tenure track teaching job...well,
> shows and exhibitions are
> vital...your future is tied to them. if you are a
> young potter working
> out of your home....stay away from shows. they are
> expensive, you will
> often be hurt and it does nothing for your future.
> take the money you would
> spend on professional slides, entry fees, travel and
> buy a pug mill.
> you will be years ahead. then, make a hundred
> pots...set them on table
> in your backyard...and have a small home sale. keep
> the prices low...20,
> 30 bucks and you will be a very happy...sold out
> potter. you will smile,
> all the way to the bank.
> keep a list of friends and neighbors, make a small
> data base and in ten years
> you will have 500 names on your list. then you can
> do a `kick ass` sale.
> keep the commission for yourself. for sure, do
> this math test: 100 pots
> times 25= $2500.00 or, you can hope to sell one
> pot for a thousand bucks.
> not many doing it.
> if you want to be a potter...a potter, that makes
> pots..functional ware....
> i totally agree with tom turner....go to potters to
> learn, go to art centers
> that have instruction for potters and go to
> workshops....then you will
> be on your way. then make a great many pots.
> if you want to go into debt, give up your
> family...leave home, go to
> a great grad program and get your mfa and then tell
> me how much
> you gained. i have the answer for most. a few of
> you out there have
> done it with grace and hard work...(lori leary) but,
> it was not easy. and
> to think that a job teaching college ceramics is
> just waiting for you...well
> you are in deep dodo. try the lottery, your chances
> are better.
> but, as vince says...`if it is what you want and you
> are really
> committed..go for it.`
> my bottom line on all of this is:
> know why you want to do something.
> be honest to yourself.
> what is the cost in money and family problems.?
> what do you gain in the end?
> so, don't be the `wizard of oz`...paint a degree on
> your chest.
> if you want to be a potter...make pots...lots of
> pots.
> make glaze tests...lots of them. fire kilns...all
> kinds. get involved
> in the process of making things from clay. all ways.
> wheel, hand building
> sculpture. then sell it to someone. then make
> more. but, make a great many.
> not one a month.
> mel
> what a great group of eager potters i found in
> toledo. they are
> ready to `rock and roll` with clay. no false hopes
> there.
> it never surprises me how often people just need
> permission and a
> small shove to be good.
> from mel/
> website:
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> reached at

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