It’s been a busy couple days here at Columbia because we are in the middle of critique week. In the spring, first and second year students present their recent work to a panel of faculty, peers, and the public. Each graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts as well as the Interdisciplinary Art and New Media Program has 40 minutes dedicated to showing, discussing, and answering questions about the work they’ve been making. Critiques can be a bit stress inducing but taking a step back and looking at everything you’ve made can also be so exciting when you realize how much you’ve changed over a few short months. I really love public speaking but it still makes me anxious, so I decided the best thing to do was to go first and get it out of the way. That was a solid decision.
After spending so much time making, documenting, and thinking about all the pieces I’ve created so far, it was a huge accomplishment to see all my work on display at once. The feedback I received was constructive and echoed some of the same questions and unresolved issues I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks. All the work I’ve made outside my comfort zone this semester has started to make sense. It’s beginning to feel like everything may be heading in an interesting direction. Plus, now I have a summer reading list full of the books that were recommended during my critique.
I’ve also made it a point to attend my fellow grad students critiques as well. We are a fascinating cohort with diverse background, art practices, and interests. It’s really been amazing to see their work evolve over the past 7 months. Columbia has such a small graduate community so it’s been fascinating to be able to dedicate so much time talking and thinking about each others work.
Q & A
I know spring is a stressful time for many of you deciding on which program you’ll be attending in the fall. I hope sharing my MFA experience at Columbia gives you insight into the program and the life of a grad student. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve been answering emails and giving tours I’ve been keeping track of some really amazing questions. Over the next couple posts I want to share a few of those questions with you that might help in your decision making process.
Q: Have there been any special opportunities you’ve taken advantage of at Columbia College Chicago?
A: There have been quite a few special opportunities that I feel I’ve been able to take advantage of because of Columbia. Last semester, two of my pieces were included at an exhibition at a global tech company located in downtown Chicago. The company hosted an opening event and an artist talk for those of us in the exhibition. There have also been many alumni that have come back and given artist talks about their experiences and growth post graduation. We also visit local arts organizations, like the Hyde Park Arts Center, and do studio visits with their artists in residence. Beyond that I feel like just the facilities at Columbia could constitute a “special opportunity”. One amazing thing about being a part of a small graduate cohort in a school that has a large undergrad population is that you have many tools to utilize. The Fabrication Lab along with the Print Studio are amazing really resources.