Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thoughts on graduate study

As I mentioned in my last posting, I have been busy gathering everything needed to complete an application to a grad school program in Art Education. The school was the University of Florida and just to satisfy any curiosities of the admissions decision: I didn't get in.

I'm not gonna lie. I'm bummed about this. But I'm also really really confused about what happened to yield this because to start with I had real reservations with applying to the program to begin with based upon the very non-traditional career and academic path I've taken to have the position I currently have in Art Education. Because my current degree is NOT in the fine arts or art education, I'm always immediately disqualified from applying to most all art education graduate programs. U of F is the first program that claimed my nontraditional status would not count against me. The admissions advisor in addition to numerous members of the faculty of the program (to whom I spoke with pretty directly before finally filing my application) all assured me that I should be confident that I was a very solid candidate for this program - I have half a decade of teaching experience (at this point) of traditional classroom teaching, coursework in education on both the undergrad and graduate level (though not enough to satisfy full degree requirements), I have written my own curriculum to standards that have been highly regarded by administrators I've reported to - who are now incidentally working at an administrative level overseeing entire school districts, I've actively maintained and devoted time to a body of work that isn't just for the sack of making art for the sake of art. I could honestly go on and on honestly. But what it boils down to is that none of it was enough and so it only leaves me with the question of what would have been enough then. 

I've already called and emailed my admissions advisor in an attempt to gain the answers to all of the questions I have. Granted, I only applied to this one program and the answer could be that I missed admission by just a hair because I needed one more "vote" from the committee OR there just wasn't room enough for me (but then wouldn't I have been wait listed?) for this next round of the grad class but I just don't know. Honestly, though, I believe that what has ultimately held me back was my personal portfolio of artwork - most specifically: the masks. 

The masks that I've made and continue to work on have been things that I've understood as controversial. They make statements about denominations and practices of faith that are difficult for people to both see and hear. Whether this is because what I've said/shown are true or not? Truth is not up for debate. It's just the fact  that I've said/shown what I have and I have to wonder if the offense that people may have felt is ultimately what barred me from admissions. Being offended is something that is not easily overcome and if someone was offended by the work I presented, well, they wouldn't be able to so soon forget it that they would be clamoring to endorse and support my application for admission.

I really did debate whether or not I should submit those masks. I mean, I don't know if that's what stood in the way of my admissions but I have a gut feeling that they were surely a major part of the denial for admission I received. Still? I feel like it's not a decision I want to regret or apologize for. From my own studies of scripture and following of faith, I've always known that any time I draw in my own assertions of faith and religion, I WILL be subject to rejection and denial. Christ himself was rejected and denied and any support of Him is always something I know will be a point of contention. And I definitely was far from doing anything less than asserting myself as a Christian fine artist and art educator in my application of admission to a  program that was most certainly secular more than anything else. 

Well. What can you do. Of rather, what can I do at this point. As I said, I'm not inclined to apologize or regret or deny the stance that I took. I stand by it and I refuse to compromise it even in the slightest just so I can be accepted by anyone else. I don't want just anyone else's approval and I'm not sacrificing my own personal integrity of faith especially to attain it. I'm committed to going where God directs me and if U of F is not where it is? Well it gives me that much greater wisdom and knowledge and confidence of where I should be going instead.


  1. Wow, I seriously can't believe they denied you. They don't know what they are losing out on! I'm guessing you're only looking for distance learning art Ed grad programs.... I studied at George Mason up close to where u live but I'm not sure if they have a masters program yet. I cannot believe U of F would judge you for "controversial" subject matter! They should respect that! That's what art does! It challenges you with images that make you think! Perhaps they didn't like that u used forms to make your masks? Or maybe they wanted more variety of mediums represented in your portfolio (painting, ceramics, photography, etc)? I'm just outraged for you!

  2. I don't know what to think, Ashley. I have been talking to my husband about it and we both just feel like this is truly a God thing and that's why it's such a resounding and solid no. It didn't occur to me that they had an issue with using mask forms but I guess I could understand that. My reasons were doing so were actually not of laziness and were for a very arguably legit reason but that's a moot point as it stands. I actually included other things in my portfolio - the positives of negatives, a self-portrait (digital photography) of myself, and also samples of student work including the cave art and one other sample that I don't remember and would have to look back on. Whatever the case I accept the decision as it stands and I don't know for sure that it was because of my Christian perspective that I very openly adhered to. Who knows? I don't know. And I'll try and post something on here regarding this if I receive any kind of feedback about the decision because I feel like it is relevant to others who are pursuing grad level academics with regard to art education.

  3. I find with anything in life it is best to do what you feel is right and what will let you sleep at night and be at peace with your decisions.
    Whatever you do, continue with your art and enjoy it to the fullest and share it with the world :)


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