“Why the MFA at Moore?”
Moore was “thinking with the pulse of the city” and “having the conversations that were relevant,” MFA candidate Huewayne Watson explained at a recent panel discussion for undergrad students, “Life After the BFA”. Huewayne initially became interested in Moore through research following the life and work of Anna Russell Jones, who received a scholarship to attend Moore in 1920 (then Philadelphia School of Design for Women), and was drawn to the community practice aspect of Moore’s MFA.
The story of how each MFA candidate decided on Moore, and how they knew they were ready to go back to school has been as personal and unique as the students themselves. For Kevin Coyle, MFA ‘18, he knew that waiting to go back to grad school (he’s in his 30s now) was the right decision after spending a decade in the media and film industry. Kevin found out about Moore through folks he met taking classes at The Clay Studio. After a meeting with Program Director, Daniel Tucker, he knew this was the right program.
Tara Kijek, MFA ‘18, laughed as she remembered that she found Moore through a good “old fashioned” Google search. She and her roommate were looking at MFA programs, and Moore was the first stop on their schools tour. She remembers that not only did Moore just feel right immediately, but that she knew that Moore actually wanted her here as a student, and that meant a lot.
Ariana Hajdu, MFA ‘18, like Tara, knew that she wanted to get her MFA directly after undergrad. Both Ari and Tara spoke to how life outside of academia can get in the way of art-making, and how they both feel they made the right decision to get an MFA right away. “$11 and hour is not enough,” Ari explained to a laughing audience, as to why she wanted a master’s in addition to her BFA, and how the MFA program has opened her up to more possibilities and applications for a career in relation to her artwork. Ari also reminded us that there are ways to marry your art-making to a job if you are creative about the opportunities. She has been able to take smaller textile embroidery to work, and sew during slower hours.
For other students, such as Kathy Bachofer, MFA ‘18, having a full career in computer science (from the time of Y2K, “Don’t do the math!” she joked) before deciding to go back first for an art undergrad and then for an MFA, was the right call. Kathy was sure she'd be denied to the program and if she was denied admission, she was prepared to harass Program Director Daniel Tucker to change his mind. But the Admission Committee saw that Kathy's backgrounds in both computer science and art supported each other, and Kathy was offered admission. Kathy’s affinity for math is evident in her textiles work and thesis research. Her careful documentation of dying and weaving processes dovetails with the structure needed to excel not only in math and computer science, but in the technical aspects of textile design.
As for plans after the MFA, all candidates agreed that continuing to make work was a priority. As Kevin said, “If you care enough, you’ll find the time.” His goal is to work as an artist and will look for the right studio space after Moore that encourages studio visits and conversations with other artists. Other students see the skills they’ve picked up in the MFA program leading in multiple directions. For many, the Teaching Assistantship (T.A.) was beneficial, and becoming a professor feels like a good fit. Kathy plans to explore college level teaching, starting with being an adjunct. Tara relayed that before T.A.ing, she wasn’t sure about teaching, but enjoys it now. She plans to build up to teaching a full course with a series of workshop offerings. Ari agreed that the opportunity to T.A. solidified teaching as an option for her. “They ask me what I think!” she explained about the fun of teaching. She is also considering pursuing K-12 certification to reach students before college. As for Huewayne, he’s eyeing Ph.D. programs and other homes to house his research and artwork.
But as Kathy reminded the audience, whatever they all decide now may change in 5, 10, or 20 years from now. She well knows from her own path to Moore’s MFA that life may weave an unexpected pattern. Kathy encouraged the BFA students to create a space for making artwork in their homes after undergrad, which will eliminate excuses for getting to the studio. Our panel echoed this sentiment with a shoutout to Craigslist for used studio equipment.
And when asked about getting the job you want: “Start working on your relationships now,” Huewayne recommended. “Don’t feel guilty about having needs. Don’t feel that’s superficial. Shut that out and feel confident in the work you want to do and develop the relationship.”
Posted by: Alyson Giantisco
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