Change of Plans

 In Painting, Uncategorized
Looking southeast across Convent Avenue and 14...

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By now, most of you know of my quest to get into graduate school to in order to seek my MFA (Master of Fine Arts). I’m frequently asked why I want yet another degree (I already have a BS, 2 certificates, part of a Masters in Communications Research & an MBA), but I wonder about that question.  Would they ask me if I were a historian or biologist?  I try to make others understand that my goal with the degree is to LEARN, to become a better artist, to move my work into areas that would be hard to explore without guidance.  

That said, I felt I was sufficiently accomplished that getting into graduate school would not be the problem.  Was I wrong!  After being turned down by Brooklyn College, I was quite discouraged.  But my spirits lifted when I receive an email from the MFA program director at City College of NY saying that I had been accepted.  Made an appointment to see her and tour the facilities.  Yea!!  I would go to graduate school yet!

Getting to CCNY is a trek regardless of route.  On the pinnacle of a hill, from either subway station, reaching it is a good sized walk all uphill.  The campus is  dominated by a quad surrounded by massive Gothic stone buildings, looming over the green.  These ancient relics seemed to suck the light out of the space as you enter.

I arrived at the program director’s office and as soon as I sat down, she side swiped me.

“You’re on the wait list,” she said.

“What do you mean?  You notified me that I was accepted,”

I sputtered out in dismay.  She went on to explain that I had been on the wait list initially (nobody told me) but that someone turned them down and they offered me the slot.  But then this person changed their mind and I was back on the wait list.

I mean–they took it back!  I’ve never heard of “backsies” for higher education admission! Many to whom I’ve related this story call it incredibly unprofessional.  I tend to agree.

In spite of my chagrin, she suggested we proceed with the tour anyhow, in case things changed.  It was a good thing because it became clear that I’d never want to attend that place.  As we toured, I saw a sculpture studio with only wood working (no other media was availble to work in.  Fine if your carpentry skills are up to snuff.  Mine are not.) and ceramics studio classes were being offered once every 3 semesters (the program is 4 semesters, i.e. only one opportunity for ceramic sculpture.)  I met disgruntled students and saw computer printers that were not to be used by MFA students because they belonged to the Electronic Design dept. and the two departments don’t get along.  When we completed the tour and returned to her office, one of the MFA students burst in on our meeting, yelling that he couldn’t take “one more minute of (one of his classmate’s) music” that he had been blasting all semester.  No apologies for the interruption and that means that for four months, they had been unable to resolve their differences!

I did not want to hang out with these people.  They were so unprofessional on any level.  So there goes CCNY.

That left only Lehman College to hear from.  For a change, I had been early, submitting my application two months before the deadline.  Twice I called to make sure they had all my materials.  But when I tried to contact the department, I had no luck until last week.  (The program director’s email was wrong on the website.)  When I finally reached them, graduate admissions told them my application was incomplete.  Calling to straighten it out, the head of grad admissions realized they had filed one of my transcripts under the wrong school.  She blithly remarked, “tell the professor your file is complete and she can go ahead and process it.”  And guess what?  All the members of the admissions committee have left for the summer!  So Fall acceptance is out of the question.  I might take some classes there next semester but that doesn’t ensure my getting in.

So I’m left trying to figure out where I’m going to go from here.  I’ll keep you posted.  I’m ready for any suggestions you might have! 

This painting, “Sunset Over Hawaii Kai”, pastel, 16″ x 20,” conveys the kind of place I wish I could escape to right now.  It was painted after a visit to Hawai and witnessing the spectacular sunsets in Ouahu, where Hawaii Kai is.  One of my favorite places in the world, Hawaii’s ocean, land and the people with their warm and rich culture, always make me feel calm and peaceful.  It is a place filled with love and I give my love back in this painting.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Liora Tziporah Farkovitz

    This does not sound like a fun journey so far. Part of that question, “Why?” has to do with what the degree will allow you to accomplish that you are not already doing. Are there other ways to learn what you want to know without the rejection, headache, expense this option creates? Would you learn more as being part of a cooperative studio? Just curious.

    • karenfriedland

      You raise a good point, Liora. I wish I knew a cooperative studio to be part of. Artists get so isolated. Thanx for the food for thought.

  • Cathy S. Hegman

    Yay, well now you can just experiment with art on your own….you don’t need a degree to learn…you just need to take the time to teach yourself. Set some goals and get on with it, on your own. There is so much knowledge out there to be had, you definitely don’t need a college to learn it and who knows what you will discover on your own.
    At least while you wait to get accepted into a program, this could be beneficial to your college degree to have the experiences in your pocket. I have found the greatest part of art is in the process, which is the failing and the successes, but it takes time and a strong will.

    • karenfriedland

      Of course, you are right, Cathy. But sometimes the structure helps you leap to a new place. Thanx for the feedback. :0)

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