A recent posting online asked the question whether to pursue a MFA in fine arts. Most comments were no, unless one wants to teach at the post secondary level and I agree with that. I think in some ways my art has suffered because of graduate school. I haven’t painted in 3 months in part because I am caught up in the why of image making. I find myself over analyzing every idea I have about the next painting. And it has frozen me. I think this is a result of grad school where every stroke of the brush or shape or color had to be explained and then the explanation given was attacked as though they knew more about my painting than me. It is hard sometimes to articulate what is so clear in your mind especially in a graduate critique. It was emphasized to have a consistent way of painting, a instant recognizable style, but I find I get tired of painting the same thing over and over with subtle variations. I paint angels and faces and non objective shapes, Greek sculpture and human figures, and depending on what I am painting the approach is different. That was heresy in grad school. Most of the profs came thru the 50s and 60s where it seems having a style was tantamount to “good art”. I’m thinking of the Ab. Exs here. If you’ve seen one Pollock you’ve seen them all, in my opinion, same with De Kooning, Rothko and the rest of the bunch. And I Like Abstract Expressionism, just not 50 paintings of the same thing. Think Joan Mitchell. I think, also, it makes it easier for a gallery to sell work based on a “look” or style. I should just paint and not overly concern myself with the why. And I never have looked at a painting of mine as to whether it is saleable or not.
I went to grad school because I wanted to teach. I like academia; I like the atmosphere of learning. Yes, there is a lot of politics involved. I still have a couple of knives stuck in my back but I can’t think of a more rewarding way of making a living and yet professors would complain about students or paperwork or whatever. I wanted to slap them. They don’t know how lucky they are. After grad school I applied to any painting/printmaking/ 2D foundations anywhere in the country. It didn’t matter where I taught, I just wanted to teach. I had a handful of interviews, some over the phone and some in person. A couple I blew being caught off guard by a question. But some interviews I thought I did ok but never heard back. And it makes me sad because I know I would have been a good asset to any program that would have hired me. Irony is that several jobs I applied for I’d see the same ad a year later: they hired the wrong person. I did teach for 3 years steady as an adjunct at a community college. I moved back home for personal reasons. And have resigned myself that I will never be a full time professor . And it’s a shame because I am a good teacher, not great but good. I like teaching.
And so here I am getting caught up in the what to do next mantra.
I moved some furniture around in my house that opened up a blank wall space. And I’m thinking some portraits of family members would look good in the spot. I have some 20” x 20” canvases that would work just fine…..thinking about color……I think I see a crack in the block….