Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

About the Studio MFA

Early April 2015, I got my big idea: EX OUT the MFA. To X it out, to stop thinking that the tuition, attendance, and stamp of approval from an MFA program was what I needed. I’m prioritizing the learning experience over the accredited (expensive) degree. I identified all the things I wanted about a Visual Arts MFA, checked off things I’d already accomplished, and figured out what’s missing from my practice, all while avoiding the aspects of the MFA experience that I don’t want. I’m blogging about it, and I might even find a way to gather + organize like-minded artists in need of a graduate art education without the $$$. I know I’m not the first to do this, in this form or in some other. But this is the first time I’m doing it. For me. And maybe for other artists, too. (note: I began this process by calling it my Ex-MFA program, but I’ve switched to Studio MFA for ease of communication.)

  1. The Subjects/Books list for Semester One for my Studio MFA
  2. Blog Posts about the Studio MFA process & progress
  3. Research Notes for Semester One for the Studio MFA
  4. OR, combine 2 & 3 in this handy dandy complete list of all Studio MFA posts (blogs + research). 🙂

This is how I got started. Please read & duplicate this experience as you wish, if you want to do a Studio MFA program with me. Also, comment here or send me a note (marzkimstudio at gmail dot com) if you want to be in touch about it!

1.) I Made an Overall Structure for the Studio MFA:

I decided to keep the typical two year length for the program, allowing myself four to six months per semester (four semesters total). Each semester I’ll delve into three subjects by reading lots of books and applying the concepts to my studio practice. I also plan to start a rigorous critique group, I’ll figure out how to find a mentor to work with me in a semi-formal way, and I’ll attend IRL events (lectures, readings, art openings) since meeting face-to-face with people in the art community is something that’s been missing for me. I’ll do all this while maintaining the in-studio art practice I already have.*

2.) I Chose my Semester One Subjects/Books:

To choose these, I asked myself questionsWhat’s driving me crazy in the studio, and what do I really want from my artwork? After quite a bit of consideration, I narrowed it down to three subjects for the first semester (not easy!), and I made a list of ten corresponding books. Instead of being in a grad program where I’d be choosing from pre-planned classes and reading books that introduce new issues that I’m forced consider in my work (I already have plenty of studio hang-ups!), I can now zero in on the things that trip me up the most.

3.) I’m Synthesizing What I Read to Apply It to My Studio Practice:

To make sure I’m on point, I’ll keep in mind the current issues I’m facing in my art work.  To push myself towards some sort of closure, I will look for answers about my art practice by thinking of it in terms of Who, What, When, Where, Why & How. I will collect quotes & make notes for each subject as I progress through each semester.

  • Who (I’m still working on articulating this)
  • What am I making? What is my process? (looking for tangible/visual answers)
  • When (I’m still working on articulating this)
  • Where do I want to show my artwork and to whom? (being in the art conversation)
  • Why do I do what I do? (starting motivations, stick-with-it motivations)
  • How (I’m still working on articulating this)

* Fall 2015: After recovering from a cycling accident this Spring and Summer, I’m now fully immersed in this self-directed program

*End of Fall 2015: OK so these few months were really hard! But I’m keeping my head above water. And I’ll start Semester Two as soon as I’m able!

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