search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

my vote for an mfa

updated thu 14 dec 00


Wynne Wilbur on wed 13 dec 00

Hey Everyone,

This topic has come up before and I suppose it will rise again - as long
as it does I guess I have to pull out my soapbox and put my two cents
in. I am pleased to see that so many like Vince talk about the positive
personal experience of going back to school as a non-traditional
student. I too threw caution to the wind, quit my job, sold my house,
moved 1500 miles (I really miss Kansas but not in the winter time) and
went back to school (at the ripe old age of 43). It is without a doubt
the best thing I have ever done with my life. There are so many
intangibles (which Vince has made a great effort at verbalizing) that
happen in a full immersion experience. It just can't be duplicated in
any other format.

I don't agree that dealing with aesthetics and criticism and art issues
necessarily excludes the practical aspects of the profession. Thanks to
the excellent leadership of Linda Arbuckle and Nan Smith at the
University of Florida, we get challenging dialog and penetrating
questions, but we also get plenty of practical discussion on
professional issues, from technical stuff to resume and statement
writing, to dealing with galleries, to marketing and other issues of a
similar nature.

If you need
criticism and development, be careful: remember that most of the rest of
the students will not be there for that. The question will not have
occurred to them.I just don't think this is a fair assessment of an MFA
program Gavin. I'm sure there are programs out there that attract
students who feel this way, but certainly not where I am. I am convinced
that much of a positive experience at school is what you ask for or
choose to get out of it, but finding the right place by visiting,
calling, and generally researching the goals and expectation of a
program will make that experience easier to come by.

As I finish my third year and face the prospect of The Next Step, I
don't think I am naive about the next set of challenges. Knowing what
the competition is like out there, if I was doing this just to find a
teaching job at the college level, I would never have gone. As it turns
out, I do want a teaching job, I've been a teacher for a long time and
I'd like to do it again - but the real goal of my MFA has been to grow
in my work and vision, to be pushed in directions I didn't even know
about, to learn to talk about my work with a new awareness of what is
out there now (and what came before) - it's just huge. And exciting. And
a bit intimidating. What a great place to be at a great time in my life.

Cheers, Wynne

Wynne Wilbur
3rd Year Grad
University of Florida