Well, a few months back—in November, to be precise—I wrote about the Candidacy process for Photography MFA students. During the process, you either pass or “don’t pass”, which the students refer to as failing. The percentage of students who pass differs from year to year. This year, only 3 of the current 6 students passed the process. That means that 3 students “didn’t pass”. I was one of them.
The process has two parts, one in November and the second (if you don’t pass) before the second semester begins. That is what is happening today (as I write this). Two other students and I must re-present our projects to the faculty. This will occur this morning.
From the day we “failed” our candidacy, we had ten weeks (to the day) to make new work, think about our work differently, and perhaps begin to move in a different direction. It is hoped that this is a time of improvement. The problem with placing it in the timeline where it is, is that those ten weeks we had to make some new work include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. If you work with models like I do, there are a number of scheduling issues that pop up because of this.
Luckily, I was able to work around these holidays and actually made a decent amount of work. This was more a realization of what I don’t want to do. Suggestions were made, I tried them, and realized that I hated them. I went back to my original work more steadfastly, and the images I made after that work well with the original images and have improved the series. I also have a clearer view of where I want to go with the work. I am feeling good about where the work is right now.
The downside—and to me, it is a large downside—is that the first semester never really ended for me. I had to keep working, beginning the last day of the semester when I was trying to schedule shoots. I feel mentally and physically exhausted, and the semester starts a few days after my re-presentation. I have been extremely productive in the six weeks we have been off, but I feel so tired I’m not sure how productive I can be during the spring semester. To be honest, I feel like I need a break.
So, I’m on my way in now. Presentations begin at 10:00am, and I think I am scheduled around noon. I don’t really know what to expect, but at this point, I feel quite satisfied with where I am and where I am going. And for me, right now, that’s good enough, regardless of the outcome today.
Update: We All Made It!