Can It Be Wrong If It Feels So Write?

Lately I’ve been weighing options linked to the next stage of my practice.  I am circling ever closer to the notion of grad school – getting past the awkward shy stage of a first idea and taking steps that make the concept of acquiring my MFA more than, ahem, conceptual.

So far I’ve been to three info/tour sessions and I’ve registered for another three in the coming months.

I’m finding the sessions incredibly valuable – and not just for logistics gathering like cost and program structure. Tours are an opportunity to try on the vibe of a place and see if it’s my size.

Of the three institutions I’ve attended two have stuck out as potential, though very different, fits for me.

Steinhardt NYU offers a self-directed studio practice MFA with lots of outside input from fellow students, faculty, and visiting artists. There are a lot of pros to this program:

  • a spacious studio that you get to keep and have access to over the summer
  • subsidized tuition
  • great facilities all in one building (you’d think that would be a given, but Hunter’s “good” printmaking studio is located uptown, far from it’s east village MFA studios)
  • small class size (they only accept 10 students/yr)

In comparison, SVA (School of Visual Arts) offers a basic Fine Arts MFA, as well as several laser-focused programs. Their Illustration as Visual Essay MFA piqued my interest and it couldn’t be more different from Steinhardt. The program is expensive with an emphasis on drawing and the studios are a cozy 60sf. I’d have to move my studio tables and most of my current supplies into storage for two years.

Stacked up against Steinhardt, SVA might not seem like the logical move.   Here’s the thing, though – I haven’t stopped thinking about SVA since I’ve had the tour.  The program’s 30th anniversary documentary enchanted me (session registrants each received a copy).

I don’t suddenly have this burning desire to be an illustrator, but on the street map of creativity I feel like my practice is located just up the avenue and around the corner from illustration. SVA’s highly structured program focuses on personal narrative and a curriculum that includes creative writing, book seminars, and digital illustration – subjects I’m acutely interested in.  I’m particularly stoked that a large part of the program focuses on writing – poetry, short story, stage play and songwriting – writing is my second love and I’ve had an on/off relationship with it for decades.

Even though SVA is not the obvious choice I’ve been wondering, “What might happen if I parked my practice on Illustration Street for a couple of years?”

Because I am prone to cling to what I know, this thought comes with fear and doubt. But it also comes with a burning curiosity and a sensation that maybe this might be a good, if unexpected, fit.

A terrifying, exhilarating, is-this-a-crazy-thing-to-do-?-but-it-feels-kind-of-right fit.

Over the next two months I’ll be chewing on the following question: Do I keep my studio size and routine the same, or do I grab my practice by the elbows, turn it around and give it a new perspective?

Essentially my decision will be driven by whether I want to feel more comfortable or whether I want to feel more challenged in my art practice. That, and whether or not I’m accepted into both programs.

I still have some applications to complete before this big life decision becomes at all relevant 😉

What are you apt to choose? A comfortable solution or a slightly terrifying one? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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