Thursday, November 12, 2009

The MFA factor


So I have recently been looking into getting my MFA. Well, ok....I've been thinking about it for a while...like a few years now. My dilemma is this....I have a degree from MICA ( a very good art school) and a teaching certification. I have always dreamed of going to one of the big ceramic programs for my masters but the truth of it is, I don't live near any of them and we are not in a position to move any time soon. Plus, we own our house and I have worked really hard to get my studio set up and everything. I have been looking into the program at Towson, which is very close to me, and they are about to get a new program director in ceramics (don't know who yet). I can start taking classes there as a non-degree seeking grad student until they have the ceramics program in place and then transfer over. I need to do something by next semester (it's a job thing). Does anyone have any experience with grad school or opinion about where to go? Does it matter where you get your degree from? My head is pretty much spinning. I'm not sure how I'll handle going to grad school and keeping the business up but it's really important for me to keep that going. Any thoughts....advice?

7 comments:

Judy Shreve said...

I'm not sure of the reasons you want an MFA in ceramics - but when I think of the money it will cost to get that MFA - you sure could create an amazing studio with that same money.
There are a limited amount of MFA/ceramic teaching positions after you graduate.
You like your house - studio & your work is already fabulous -- and you can teach now at art/ceramic facilities -- so it boils down to what you want for your career -- an MFA to teach -- or to make different work. -- just my two cents. And right now the University of Florida is turning out some amazing ceramicists.

Lizzo said...

Have you considered a low-residency MFA?

I have lots of thoughts on the subject, but they are all colored by my own experience (the grad school part was positive, the teaching part less so). I'd be glad to talk about it with you sometime if you want.

Little Flower Designs said...

Hi, I don't have an MFA but when I looked into it some of the schools did not want the grads to run businesses on the side, so maybe check on that. I agree with Judy, it really depends on what you want to do with the MFA. I think there are 2 reasons to pursue it, the first is if you want to teach at the college level the second, if you feel you'd like those 2 years to immerse yourself into the program for artistic growth. The Towson program sounds like a good idea to help decide if the MFA is for you. Your work is beautiful now and knowing you for a short time I already see growth, its not an easy decision but either way you definitely have a nice career in clay which can only grow in wonderful ways. Good luck!!!!

pinkkiss said...

Thanks for all the advice you guys! I was thinking about an MFA before but decided against it due to not having a program that I could get to that I thought was worth it. Since working at Towson (in the art ed department) I have to get a masters if I want to continue to teach there. So that's what started all this up again. After a long talk with M, some tears and a very strong martini I think I have decided to put off the MFA and let the job at Towson pass. I'm not ready to put my studio work on hold and don't really want to be involved in the art ed world anyway. Judy is right about being able to teach at a neighborhood program (I do live 5 miles from the Baltimore Clayworks) and I would rather spend my time and money on a MFA program that I really want to go to, like Florida (hooray for warmer climates!)So, there you have it. I'm going to do what I set out to do in the first place which is to build my studio and work into something that pays the bills. That's what you get from an MFA anyway right? Thanks again for listening:) I feel very lucky to have an online community of support!

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Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Shawna - I'm catching up on blog reading and just wanted to say I went through the same decision-making process a couple of years ago. Decided to not to invest in a formal academic program after talking with two instructors at a clay workshop at Arrowmont. Both had MFAs and both said that, unless your goal is teaching, it would be more effective/efficient to take workshops from potters whose work you admire, and continue to develop your own work. I think it's good advice and looks like Judy and the others have the same feelings about it. Seems like you're on the right path!

Anonymous said...

Just found this on another blog. I have also been considering an MFA, partially for the instruction. I took post-bac classes at 2 different universities, read a lot of ceramic books and work for an amazing ceramicist, but I still feel I'd get more focused. (Many grants also require one.) I'm looking into some distance degrees, along with some local schools. Right now, I'm deciding what the time spent will give me, along with the degree - is it better spent on my work, or will I get more in that environment? I'm also going to set up an appointment with the head of the university here, who I know from classes taken years ago. I'm 52, need more money and insurance, but this is my life. Good luck in your ruminations; check out those distance degrees too.