Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In Other News...

So it's been over a week since graduation and things are still busy here. I have started to move out of my studio on the 9th floor and bring all of my book, supplies, etc. home.

I have a lot of stuff, waaaay too much stuff, so I will be sorting, tossing and leaving things behind for the students still in school. The amount of "treasure" you can find at this time of year on the upper floors after students move out is amazing. Canvases galore, stretchers, chairs, bookshelves, all manner of supplies, etc. Some people bug out of town quick and want to lighten their load. I don't blame them at all for just tossing out a lot of art and supplies. I still have things in my studio that friends left in our gang studio on the 4th floor from undergrad. I will have to decide about a lot of paintings I have from school, to either toss them or reuse them later for new paintings.

It's too easy to be a pack rat and think, "I'll use this canvas or piles of wood, etc." and then never ever, ever use it. How many cans of fixative do I need? So right now between the studio at school and my home its like a game of tetras to fit it all in.

I just received my final grades from PAFA this morning--as if they in any way really matter now.  They were exactly what I expected to get and I'll pin them on my fridge, but really what matters is the skill I gained, my hard work for me and my goal, not how well I painted to please my critics. The simple fact is usually by pleasing one you will displease another. No way to win that game.

The rumor I hear is that they might go to no grades at all in the next year or so in the MFA, just a pass, fail type system that many other masters programs have.

The whole system of grading in Art School is a prickly subject in many ways. In general I think there is an overall grade inflation on one hand, and no real test , or empirical test or measuring of whether skills taught are really learned like they might have in music school when you have you final performance at the end of the year.  I think there is less so in an animation or illustration program than the typical fine art program.

The best evidence might be that if you paint the way your critic wants, they give you a better grade, go against their advice, and you get a lower grade. You might be thought of as being close minded or stubborn. I did in no way paint to appease my critics, in fact the paintings I was doing to appease a few, or one, I stopped doing as it wasn't what I wanted to do.  I didn't agree with her points in the end and felt painting to show her I could make the type of work she wanted was a waste of my time--I should be painting what I wanted, not painting to prove a point. I felt it was like a commission for a critic.

To sum it up, the critics are there as a resource to help me to be a better me, not to paint or make work that reflects their desires--or TASTE. In the masters program that is the way I think it should be, not the way it often seemed, where if you paint figures or landscapes they want you to abandon that for something else or another aesthetic which you don't desire.

There are a lot of upset an angry students at the end of the year when Spring Prizes are given out, many feel they worked really hard but don't get a prize or recognition for that hard work. I understand that, really. I think being older in school helps here because pleasing a critic or being a star in school might be a great thing, in school. Its a reflection of you pleasing many of the people in the school. Hoverer it is by no means any guarantee of success or future recognition outside of school or that you will have a great and long lasting career in the arts. School is short, art is long.

It's maybe too easy to get A's and B's in art school, when in the end what you want is skill and ability, or that should really be your goal because that is the wind and sails that will carry you forward, and when they are not there, you better be able to put the oars in the water and row likes hell.

This last Sunday we had the annual Student Show for the After School Program at PAFA, where I teach the Illustration class. The teachers all showed up early to hang the student work on the 11h floor  and a few hours later the student's and their family showed up to celebrate their work and have some snacks.

I think this years work was the strongest so far since many of the students have been in the program now for 3-4 years, so you can really see their progress and growth on this year's wall. Its a mixture of happiness and sadness since a lot of the students I have taught are now graduating from high school and moving on.


I will miss my crew who are leaving, but wish them well, they are going to really do well in the future if they keep working and growing as much as they have. As a teacher there is no better feeling than to see some young artist blossom before your eyes. Its the best feeling in the world to see them just gain in leaps and bounds at this age. hats off again the Al Gury who put this whole program together, what a gift for any student in Philly to be able to come to this program,  I certainly would have loved to attend this program as a teen. My hope is that they can carry forward this moment of purity, the desire to be creative for yourself into the sometimes choppy waters of art school or as a way to enrich their lives in the future.

1 comment:

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