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mfa/bfa woes (long)

updated wed 7 jun 00


Joyce Lee on mon 5 jun 00

Since retiring from education, I have sometimes volunteered at the
California Employment Development Department leading workshops in Resume
Writing and Interviewing Skills. It finally dawned on me that I could
access some of their understanding of what's on the horizon concerning
chances of a student being gainfully placed in art-related employment
upon graduation with a BFA or MFA. Information gleaned from a few most
informal conversations with EDD counselors tells me that Doug's hopeful
expectations for future job availability for MFA graduates may be
somewhat more on target than I thought. There are some big IFs involved,
however, and the major one is IF the candidate also has extensive
computer experience ..... computer graphics being high on the list.
Apparently, a degree in computer science isn't all that essential IF
there are recent courses and/or experience in computer graphics ...
obviously NOT BFA/MFA, but considered to be in the ballpark by those
with whom I spoke. Turns out I didn't have to go far to discover support
for statements such as the above. I was directed to the webpage for our
own local community college, CerroCoso, which has an innovative academy
within the regular curricular offerings.... The Academy for Digital
Animation. This is not a sales pitch.... just an observation of
something that seems to be working. The Academy accepts 20 students for
1080 hours spent learning in a production atmosphere. Teachers work
alongside students and are themselves highly qualified and experienced
industry artists. This is a 36 unit certificate program, but can evolve
into a 60 unit Associate Degree in Science in Media Arts. It's funded by
a special grant designed to prepare digital animators to ENTER THE WORK
FORCE in digital character animation, special effects or technical
direction. Wow. Invigorating! In another arena, I spoke with one former
student today who has been in the " computer programming game" business
for six years after graduating from UCLA with a BFA backed by extensive
computer experience... his first love was pottery/art and he was GOOD...
he gave it up for greater possibilities of gainful AND exciting
employment. He truly expects to be able to retire in two more years ..
and then return to his first love. Of course, he's incredibly bright
.......... and, oh yes, did I mention that he lives in a shed to save
rent money which he invests ... and sleeps on a handmade shelf as a bed
for his 6'5" frame... for which he pays $250.00 monthly?? I also spoke
with a young man who graduated with an ENGINEERING major four years ago
and he continues to work in his part-time high school and college
vacation job as a theater usher ..... only now it's full time. I don't
know what all this means, but the very independent "research" has been
fun ..... and I still don't know exactly how to advise the few high
school graduates who continue to ask for personal guidance. I agree
with Cindy and others that education can be an acceptable goal by itself
... Any educator in California who has changed "levels of teaching" and
"subject matter being taught" as many times as I have has been in school
most of her life ... in California we keep the colleges afloat during
lean times (and it's ALWAYS lean times in education here) by mandating
that almost any change a teacher chooses to make within the system will
only happen if he takes another series of courses leading to some sort
of yet another credential. Fortunately, I LIKE formal education ... BUT
I've never had as much pure fun and hair-raising frustration as I have
working with and learning about clay!!

In the Mojave thinking that if the above is a convoluted mess, it is
appropriate to the subject at hand.....