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the jugging act, or kelly and elizabeth's mfas

updated wed 28 jun 06


Rachel Campbell on mon 26 jun 06

Hi all...

I've been following Kelly and Elizabeth's "MFA" discussions with some interest. We have here two women with a lot in common-- two moms, trying to grow as artists, to take the "next step", whatever that might be, while still giving their families what they need. That's a hard struggle, one I really identify with.

Kelly and Elizabeth each have found different ways to pursue their goals. Kelly is taking a huge brave step to go for an MFA-- very cool that she has the opportunity, and with a mentor that she highly respects. It's a huge commitment, but one that her family is supportive of, and one that will only be doable with that support.

Elizabeth, unable to do a traditional MFA program at this time in her life, is pursuing her own next step-- one that requires no less committment. She has mapped out her own approach, and hers requires huge self-discipline, without benefit of externally imposed deadlines or motivation.

Personnally, while I admire Elizabeth's approach, I tend to identify a little more with Kelly's life. Like Kelly, I lack the traditional art/ceramics educational background. (I suspect that background gives Elizabeth some guidance/direction in mapping out her destiny.) More importantly, I share with Kelly the joy and insanity of LOTS of kids. As it happens, by the time my oldest was the age of Elizabeth's son, I had a 6 month old baby, as well. (See, I don't believe in doing things the easy way ;-)

The only way I have a hope of pursuing anything with any kind of consistency or discipline is with a ton of that good old external motivation. It also helps if I can get out of the house and away from competing demands. Every moment I'm at home I have to choose between the house stuff, the people stuff (4 kids and a wonderful husband-- someone ALWAYS needs something, by definition) and the Me stuff (you know, sleep, an occasional shower, and Clay-- not necessarily in that order).

For that matter, it's only been in the last year or so that I've come to terms with things, and given myself "permission" to take the clay, and myself as a potter, seriously. So I've gotten to where I can at least on occasion choose to put the clay first w/o tons of mommy guilt, but the reality is that I have to take my clay time in fits and starts, a couple of hours at a time (if I'm lucky), maybe three or four times a week. There's no possible way I'd be able to pursue the kind of serious plan that Elizabeth is engaged in.

I'm not in a position (at least not yet) to go the MFA route. (Maybe in a couple of years, when my littlest joins the others, in school all day.) But Kelly is inspiring to me, in the way she has been able to strike a balance, being a mom to all her kids and partner to her husband, but still having the courage to take herself seriously as a clay artist. And Elizabeth is also inspiring, in the way she has set goals and pursued them, even without the external motivation. Maybe my goals can't be as ambitious as hers, but that doesn't mean I should take them any less seriously.

Anyway, that's a long involved way of saying, I really appreciate both of these women as role models... proof that you CAN do it all (so to speak), one way or another. Thanks ladies!

:-) Rachel in Odenton, MD

(actually, I'm not currently in MD--I'm on vacation this week, with the whole family in Ft Lauderdale FL. I'm just nuts enough to have hauled my laptop along with me, and lucky enough that the timeshare has free wireless. Next week is vacation, Part II, and we're spending the week in Texas, where I'm determined to visit David Hendley's studio. YAAAY! Anybody around this week in the Ft Lauderdale area?)