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Couple of questions from someone without a BA/BFA in Art


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I'm from the UK and long term would very much like to spend a year plus in art school to develop my practice and also experience the collaborative atmosphere. As I'm poor, it'll be in the UK or EU if it ever happens. This is a long term goal as I'm only starting to take my work seriously and enter a few unjuried exhibitions this summer. I've got a couple of random questions:

1. I've read alot about the MFA programmes in North America you are all trying to get on. However, I see that you can also get MA's in studio art. What's the difference? Are MA's looked down upon?

2. Do people ever get 'headhunted' or 'scouted' for grad school at BFA shows or regional exhibitions near schools? I doubt it but still wondered.

3. If you are in the position to pay for grad school with the proceed from your artworks, would going to do a graduate degree stall/ harm your reputation if you're out of circulation for up to 3 years? Or is this incredibly rare in the first place?

4. I have a big question about a style of painting, particularly oil painting that I see widely at the art school shows I've been to. It 'looks' unfinished- just one or two layers and the draftsmanship of the under drawing is a bit 'wonky'. I really don't want to offend or come across as stupid, but is this a modern style, and if so, does it have a name? I've been wondering for years but couldn't actually ask the artist without offending them. I don't undestand the technical concept aside from the slight abstraction/minimalism.





Thanks. Don't want to appear as a troll. I've been stalking the threads for ages now and I've been ruminating on these for ages.

Edited by liebkuchen
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1. MA's have a wider variety of classes to take outside of the art department, while and MFA is almost completely focused on art production/art history and theory. An MA may be looked down upon, depending on who is doing the looking.

2.People don't really get "scouted" for MFA programs. Sometimes faculty will recommend an undergraduate to a faculty friend at another school, but that is the extent of it.

3. Individuals in grad school (or prior to grad school) usually aren't making much money from their work, but by no means are you "out of the game". Actually many students are more active exhibitors while in grad school. There is no reason to not exhibit/sell work you create while in grad school.

4. If those examples look unfinished or wonky to you, then you may want more familiarity with contemporary painting. I don't think there is a stylistic name for the paintings you included, as generally contemporary painting is in a very open-ended place and not really defined by historical styles (as modernism was). To start to understand it, you need to learn more about contemporary painting (the book Vitamin P is a good example), and then you need to look at each artist's output individually (and look at the nuances) rather than lump it all together.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Michael. I was worried that I'd be seen as trolling re: question 4. I've already got the Vitamin P book on my Amazon wishlist so I'll prioritise it as my next buy. Aside from the internet, my only exposure to 'live' contemporary art comes from the graduation shows at the Scottish art schools. Maybe I'll pluck up the courage to quiz one of the students if they're looking bored...

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I wouldn't recommend graduate school if you just want "a year to develop and collaborate." Maybe there's a post-baccalaureate program? I don't know about the UK, but here is it sometimes possible to be a "transient" student, enrolled in classes but not seeking a degree. The MFA is a terminal degree, equivalent to a PhD. The MA is less demanding (and shorter) and less intensive.

It's not impossible to get headhunted for grad school, but rare. It more often happens that one of your instructors recommends you to a close colleague somewhere else.

You would not be "out of circulation" for three years if you were in grad school. You'd need to keep up your production just as much if not more than before. The only weird thing about a successful artist getting an MFA is answering the question, "Why?" It could be seen as a silly decision unless you have very specific goals (e.g., want a teaching position).

Re: those examples--I'm tempted to refer you to some Raphael Rubenstein articles in _Art in America_ recently about "Provisional Painting," as he calls it. However, I think there's a difference between Provisional Painting and just bad painting. Just because it's up on the walls of a gallery doesn't mean it's any good.

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