Graduate Open House

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Columbia College Chicago held their Graduate Open House this past weekend, where prospective students had the opportunity to experience their programs-of-interest through presentations and Q&A sessions. The Graduate Ambassadors came in for the latter, answering questions on general student life as well as their specific programs. Considering the event schedule, Open House supplied plenty of material for prospectives to inquire about during the day.

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Everyone gathered first at the Conaway Center for coffee and a screening of Vera Klement: Blunt Edge, a documentary by Film and Video Graduate student Wonjung Bae. Blunt Edge follows Klement, a prolific Chicago painter, as she speaks of how her experiences as a Holocaust survivor have crafted her philosophies with composition on the canvas. Bae won top honors at the 38th Student Academy Awards for the piece, and its power was clear in the fixed gazes of the Open House audience.

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Soon after, faculty from each graduate program led breakout sessions where they could elaborate on the finer points of their department. Holding down for InterArts was Jeff Abell, MA Program Director and Associate Professor, as well as Book & Paper Associate Professor Melissa Potter. Their expertise on the three-prong InterArts Program–MFA tracks in Media, Book & Paper, and the snappy one-year MA–proved vital to the myriad of questions asked from the curious crowd. Abell perhaps summed up the rigorous nature of theory and practice in the department best when he compared the process to wine-making. The grapes that cling to harsh landscapes, dig their roots into rocky soil, and grow despite all odds are the grapes that create the best vintage.

Translation: InterArts is no cakewalk. Only strong, resilient, and fearless artists need apply.

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The breakout sessions segued into lunch, and the Graduate Discussion Panel, where Ambassadors (like yours truly) fielded questions from the mundane to the (relatively) profound aspects of student life. If you haven’t surmised already, the Graduate Ambassador is just that–a living, breathing example of how their given graduate program operates on a daily basis. Questions of career trajectory, funding for projects, and neighborhood recommendations for apartment-hunting all found their place during this half-hour lightning round…and even afterward, when ambassadors could field personal questions that didn’t make it into the allotted time.

In fact, Graduate Open House is an excellent event where those questions, big or small, could be addressed with real people from Columbia. As an Ambassador, I was there to dispense advice, experience, and honest opinion on how InterArts functions as a graduate program. My goal was to give a fully rounded description of my time here and convey that to the InterArt prospectives in person and through Marginalia.

For some, this event may have been the dealmaker. It would certainly explain the crowds at both information sessions with Graduate Admissions Director Cate Lagueux on the application process.

The fearless were up for the challenge.

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