As soon as I hung up the phone I was seized by panic. I had never participated in a debate before, so I put the next six weeks of my life on hold as I researched, rehearsed, fretted, lost sleep and generally drove my wonderful partner, Chaz, crazy. I was motivated not so much by the need to win (although I did want to win) but by the need not to make an idiot of myself in public.
I won the debate, a victory tempered by the fact that it was decided on the strength of applause from a raucous crowd who were swilling free vodka provided by the event’s sponsor. But more importantly, I decided to present my argument on my blog.
I’d like to know what you think, pro or con. Have things changed significantly in the last five years? Is the MFA still the standard for participating in the visual arts? Are MFA programs keeping up with the times? Are new paradigms gaining strength? If so, what are they?The post took on a life of its own. I was quoted, requoted, invited to participate in panel discussions, thanked for helping prospective students make up their minds, and generally looked upon as the expert on why not to get an MFA. It’s still the most popular post I’ve ever published.
|Robert-Fleury's Atelier at Académie Julian for female art students - painting by student Marie Bashkirtseff (1881) Wikipedia|
I’m not as rabidly opposed to MFAs as you might assume. In a debate, you pick a side and you argue it. Having said that, the elitist, overly-cerebral, eye-roll-inducing, codified language games that have all but replaced the visual in the upper echelons of the visual arts are rich material for satire.
Take for instance, the following videos:
How to Graduate from Art School (animated, scripted and performed by ProbCause)
I’d like to know what you think, pro or con. Have things changed significantly in the last five years? Is the MFA still the standard for participating in the visual arts? Are MFA programs keeping up with the times? Are new paradigms gaining strength? If so, what are they? You can comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Be sure to let me know if I can publish your comments in a future post.)