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How to know if you are "ready" for an MFA program?


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Sorry this is a kind of weird and vague question. When did you all feel you were "ready" to begin an MFA program?

For context, I'm planning to apply next year for MFA programs beginning in Fall 2018.  I'm a painter, but I really like to work with my community: teaching children's art classes, working with non-profits, volunteering for community beautification projects, community-based research, etc. so I'm really hoping to find a program that's kind of a mix of painting/drawing and social practice. My art heroes are Brett Cook and Rick Lowe. But, I've been living abroad for a couple years, working full time and traveling a lot so I have lost some of that community aspect.  I'll be moving back home to the SF Bay Area in August 2018 and I really want to focus on making art and finding mentors to support me and re-establishing an art community around me. It seems like the right MFA program would be ideal for these goals, but I just don't know how to tell if I am "ready"-- is my art practice developed enough? Does my work have a distict voice? Would any MFA programs even be interested in my work?

(Alternatively, I would be okay with taking some more time to focus on art-making through residencies or other programs before I apply, but for personal reasons, I really need to be in California and can't travel which limits my options.)

Anyway, anyone else here feel this way? Was there anything that helped you realize that you were or were not ready for an MFA program? I'd love to hear your experiences! Thank you!!

Edited by kyarnold
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My only suggestion is to have what I call "real" world experience before starting an MFA. Not all experiences have to be art based. Hopefully the programs you apply to will value your Japanese experience, interests in community and be a good fit.

I am not sure art practice has a peak for development. You'll know when you're ready just make sure to research institutions that will support your niche.

Write your priorities in life down, draw a timeline for goals and see where an MFA fits in... If you want to wait, wait. If not apply for 2018. 

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