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poorstudent's Achievements


Decaf (2/10)



  1. There are three PhD in Art Practice program in North America: University of California San Diego (started in 2002), York University since 2008 and University of Western Ontario since around 2007 (the latter two in Canada). There are plenty of PhD in Arts program in Europe. I am currently only months away from finishing my MFA program at a university where there is a PhD in Art Practice program as well. From my direct interaction with the PhD in Art Practice students, many of them friends, I know for sure, it is not a good direction for artists. Some really regret they started the program but after two years of intense investment of time (while not making art at all) it is hard to drop out. Here are the realities: you will not make art in your first two years or even longer. You will have no time at all. You will study for your minor and major comprehensive exams then you will work on writing your prospectus for your thesis. The amount of reading and your writings demanded by your course work is exhausting. When they tell you that part of your program is two mid term show in your minimum 4 year studies, you will practically scramble to carve out some time to produce work to be ready for your show in the last minute as your academic studies are so demanding. Also, the academic learning addresses a narrow field both in the US and in Europe (except England and Ireland). Your mandatory readings will be from cultural theory meaning Lacoon, Bartes, Foucault, Derrida, etc. If it is not your cup of tea and you have a broader interest, then you will be disappointed because you will not have time to read or do anything else. A big disadvantage of being a student in PhD that for granting agencies and public galleries you are just that, simply a student, and you are not eligible to apply for many grants or public exhibitions because students are excluded from those opportunities (in case you are a miracle student who can carve out a tiny bit of time to make a tiny bit of art). This will hinder your art practice tremendously. If you want to teach studio at a university when you finish after 4-5 and sometimes six years of study (years when you hardly made any art), it will be a disadvantage of not having a consistent practice of continuous art making and public exhibitions. When I came to this program as an MFA student, I was thinking to continue in PhD (and I have every chance to continue as I am top student). I don’t consider it anymore. I am still interested in doing a PhD but in a solid, established field such as university art education, theatre and performance studies, media studies etc. and doing it low residency while I am teaching and making art. Doing a PhD which is not directly in art practice will not render me to be a mere art student and I will be eligible to apply for grants and professional exhibition opportunities just as any other artist. It will be still demanding and will require a lot of energy to make art and complete a PhD in low residency but my PhD will have also a much better prestige than an Art practice PhD. I hope this information will help you.
  2. Has anyone heard back from Stanford MFA program, acceptance or rejection?
  3. I think you should find other recommenders. It does not seem for me that your chosen recommenders are suitable for the job and would be taken seriously. Former professors or curators who are familiar with your work are your best bet and they know how to write a recommendation letter. Also it is very useful if you send them a copy of your statement of purpose so they can see how you would like to benefit from the MFA programs of the schools you are applying for and they can support you in those goals with their recommendation letters. My recommenders asked for my statement of goals so they were able to tailor their recommendations to suit my goals.
  4. If you take the exam (GRE General Test) in the US it cost $160. I am international so for me it was $190. The GRE is non negotiable but I was able at least to negotiate with the schools where I applied for not to ask me to write the TOEFL because my BFA is from an English language university and I also negotiated with them not to ask for a WES Credential Evaluation for my first degree in mathematics because I submitted both native language and English language transcript from my former alma mater. I saved a lot of money but you can't negotiate and get out from the GRE. Also remember to sign up early for the GRE because a lot of people have to take it and seats fill up quickly. You can easily miss your application deadline because you can't secure a spot for yourself in the exam.
  5. Yes, I had to write the GRE. It does not count in their evaluation but it is a university wide requirement. Stanford is the only school which asks for it for its MFA program though it is also mandatory if you are applying to PhD programs like the PhD in Media, Art and Technology at UC Santa Barbara. It was stressful to write it because I work full time and study full time so I had no time to prepare for the exam. I did not do any sample test offered on the GRE website and the first time I read the instructions how to do the exam was actually during the exam so it took me more than four hours to complete because I had to carefully read all the instructions as I had no prior experience with the test. I also had to lie at my workplace that I had a dental appointment that morning because I could not possibly tell them I was planning to leave. So it was really stressful. I still did ok on the exam, 510 on verbal and 730 on quantitative. I am planning to redo it during the summer after really preparing for it because I think it worth doing it especially if I change my mind next year and apply for a PhD program.
  6. Are you sure you are in the right forum? It seems you applied for structural engineering. We all here are hoping to get in an MFA program. I applied to Stanford MFA but still no word yet.
  7. I asked the exact same question a couple weeks ago from the manager of university and industry liaison at my school (I am in my 4th year in my BFA program). I was accepted with merit award to some schools MFA program for fall 2011 but I declined because they are not fully funded so I want to apply again next year to other schools. (Though I haven't heard from two schools yet.) She told me I definitely need to visit schools before I apply and get to know the faculty, their teaching philosophy and what directions the school is taking as well as to learn about in what way they support the development and career of the MFA students. In graduate school it is important to have good chemistry at least with one or two faculty members (minimum) as they can become your thesis advisers and your best supporters. It is also an opportunity for them to get to know you and they will remember you when it comes to decision though you still have to have a strong portfolio. The best time to visit is around late September or October . I did not visit any school as I am still studying for my BFA and I could not afford to miss my classes. I still got accepted as the portfolio counts about 95% in the decision. But if you visit you can also ask what exactly they are looking in the portfolio so you can be more strategic about what kind of work you want to include. I will go to visit about six schools in the fall. You can actually group your potential schools where they are based, west coast or east coast and visit the schools on the same trip which are on the same coast.
  8. Here's the best promotional video for a university. It went viral since April 7 when it hit Youtube with more than 500,000 views. It was made by students and they mobilized 1000 students to actively participate in the 10 min. long shot. They have an MFA program with 5 students admitted every year and great studios but it is very difficult to get in.
  9. You said it well. What you wrote resonates with a quote from Kenneth Baker's book Minimalism. "The Minimalist moment of stylistic clarity and critical purpose in art was a brief one partly because no stable community existed to sustain it. Its social basis was the art world, a competitive, volatile subculture whose economy depends on perennial renewal of novelty both in art and in opinion about it."
  10. Sorry to hear about your Stanford rejection. I really like your photographs and your current documentary project. I checked out your website. How did you hear from Stanford? Have you been interviewed?
  11. I am accepted to Columbia College Chicago with the Follett Graduate Merit Scholarship of 12,300 for each year. (36,600 total) I will go only if I can be fully funded. Someone asked in this forum if it is possible to get in from the waitlist and still receive funding. I think it is possible. If I decline (very likely) then this scholarship will be freed up as well as my space so I assume the money will go to the first student on the waitlist. I posted my thoughts on funding and the value of MFA in another topic in the Gradcafe (figuring out loans), that you might want to check out: http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/19944-figuring-out-loans/page__gopid__232991#entry232991
  12. I am planning to take out $0. I will go fully funded (including stipend) or I do not go. If will not be fully funded, I will apply next year to go to either Canada using my Canadian citizenship or moving back to Europe after ten years and using my EU citizenship to apply to a European MFA program. I am an international student so an MFA in the US is double the cost than for a US citizen and I am not allowed to work on student visa (except teaching assistantship or research assistantship). But if I were a US citizen it would be still a horrendous price to pay for an MFA. A big warning to everyone who intends to take out loans for an MFA: an MFA is not a medical degree, law degree, engineering degree or a computer science degree which would guarantee you decent job and income after you graduate and the possibility to pay back your loans within a reasonable timeframe while still having an appropriate quality of life. An MFA is a soft degree. Very few artists will make it as a full time artist and earn decent income even a decade or two after earning their MFA. I worked with hundreds of artists (US, Canadian and international artists) in the last several years when managing four public galleries as my daytime job (while studying for my BFA full time in the night) and I had the privilege to earn their trust and gain an insight into their careers and lives so I know what I am talking about. For those US artists who studied for their MFA after already having a career in a different field like medical field which allowed them to save money for their MFA studies while still having to take out some minimal loans, their decision paid off. Once they earned their MFA degree they went back to their former profession (medical, engineering, etc.), earned enough to quickly pay off their debt in about 3 years and had money to invest into their own art making to develop their practice. Then they applied to teaching positions at universities and eventually got assistant professor positions. They have an active artist career, gallery representation in New York and other cities and teaching position. The jobs you can take with an MFA are generally low paying and stressful jobs. Managing a gallery, working with board members, artists, the general public, city officials is a high stress job with low pay and leaves little room to your own art making as the job sucks the life out of you. In fact you don’t need an MFA to get those jobs. You rather need to accumulate work experience and be in the know. You need to volunteer a hell of a lot and I mean hundreds and hundreds of hours year after year so you can learn about yourself what kind of job you would enjoy and through your volunteer work to develop your network of professional connections including artists, curators, educators and cultural workers. If you work with someone they will get to know you and if you are hard working and you work well with people once a job opens you will be the one they offer the job. Also curators who have a working relationship with you through your volunteer work, will be happy to look at your portfolio and advise you privately or even at some point consider your work in a group show. Curators have amazing memory. I did get email from a curator a year after I showed her my work and she asked for a specific work for a group show. I volunteered more than 300 hours every year both in high end public galleries and grassroot arts organizations while working full time in the cultural field and studying full time. (I actually got all my paid works in the cultural field through my volunteer work.) The only type of work you probably really need an MFA is a teaching position in an art school at the university level. (It does not pay that much either but they allow you to make art too and you have access to state of the art facilities). But if you are an accomplished artist with significant exhibition records, catalogues under your belt, articles in Artforum and your work are in prestigious collections, MFA does not count. You might just decide to take an alternative route and use your BFA and connections through volunteer work to get a job in the cultural field without going into debt for an MFA but also making an utmost commitment to your own art making to create work and develop your understanding of contemporary art by going to exhibitions, meeting reputable artists and learn from them, go to public lectures of visiting artists in the universities in your area and work as a volunteer with reputable curators and learn from them. By doing all these activities at the end your work will definitely develop and exhibitions will start lining up. But there is no success without hard work and ambition. To make at least a modestly satisfying career in the art world you need talent, ambition, connections, hard work and luck. Luck can be facilitated by meeting the right people at the right time meaning you do your research to see which curators you would like to work with, which artists you would like to get to know personally, which gallery you would like to exhibit in, which fits to your artistic work and go to their events and volunteer for them to increase you potential for lucky situations to occur. Many people in the Gradcafe forum think that getting into a prestigious art school’s MFA program is validation of artistic talent. It is not. The universities are profit centers, they need your money. The real cost of education and the tuition fees you pay have no connections. Tuitions are high because they need to generate profit. For an artist conceptual validation comes from public galleries through exhibitions and catalogues and financial validation comes from the commercial galleries. The two systems work together in an intricate, delicate relationship. You probably noticed if you live in New York (or by that matter anywhere else) if a contemporary artist exhibit there or in your own city in a major public gallery, the commercial gallery which represents her/his work also mounts a solo show of the artist’s work. Instead of an MFA an artist’s ambition should be focused on developing a cohesive body of work, developing professional network, developing the ability to situate their artistic practice in a contemporary context and articulate it which will then eventually lead to exhibitions, catalogues, gallery representations and publicity. You probably now wonder that if I do not think MFA is so important, then why on earth did I apply to an MFA program? My answer is simple: I want to have two years in my life when I can concentrate fully on art making and have access to state of the art studios instead of working my butt out for others and doing my own art in the night. My works are already in reputable public collections (They bought them; I never donate art). The works I created in the last two years put me on the map but it was incredibly hard while working full time, studying full time and volunteering. (I love volunteering by the way so it is not a complain. This is how I met inspiring great artists.) I know that if I will have two years uninterrupted time in my life to create art, I will be set for life as an artist and I will never have to work full time. I still want to work part time. But no one can be an artist with mountains of debt. I do not have any savings - art making cost money - but I do not have debt either and I have no intention to accumulate debt. If there would be a collector or art patron or a gallerist who would offer me a personal grant, who would rent a studio for me for two years and pay my expenses for two years I would happily accept that instead of an MFA because it would allow me to have that uninterrupted two years that I dream of to dedicate to art making. I am very busy now with finishing my final project for my BFA degree which I will get in April but I am planning to put together an artist resource website during the summer particularly for emerging artists which would also include articles on specific subjects from my own work experiences and also resources and link to other useful articles in other websites and it will include a discussion forum as well. I will also invite artist friends (mid career) to talk candidly about the challenges they faced in establishing their own artistic career and what helped them along the way. Once it is up and running (I estimate it will be around end of July) I will definitely will put up a post here so you will be able to go to that site and access lots of useful information. My vision for the website is to serve as a free online course for lifelong learning in professional practices geared toward the emerging artist. (When I say emerging I mean it as a career phase, I don’t necessarily mean it as young in physical age. You can be 60 year old and just starting out or in an early phase of your career so you are still emerging.) So even if you will be admitted to an MFA program by then and happily or not so happily you go into debt to attend your dream school, it will be still an excellent source for you for lifelong free learning in professional practices.
  13. I applied to Stanford and still I haven't heard from them. Have you heard from them and if yes when? I see you crossed Stanford. Did you get a rejection letter?
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