This is my bittersweet final post on Marginalia! My time sharing my experience with you all is coming to a close but I hope I’ve given you all a window into my grad school experience. There have been many ups and downs of MFA life so far and surely more to come. I’ll still be around as I complete my thesis year (so please feel free to reach out and say hello!) There are so many changes happening in my world, including my new role as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), that I decided I needed to lighten my load during my final two semesters.
As I look forward the next 9 months it feels a bit daunting, especially considering I’ll be apartment searching and moving this winter in addition to thesis. My goals for my remaining time in the program are large, and I’m focused on realizing my thesis project as well as making sure not to get too stressed out.
A Thesis-sized Semester
In between all the unexpected events this summer I managed to find some time to research and develop the conceptual foundation of my thesis project. I’ve even started making some early models of the work. This project has already taken me in a new terrifying-but-good direction that incorporates technology that I’ve never used with my interest in entrepreneurship (and intellectual property as well). I’m exploring computer vision and algorithmic approaches to making and living a sustainable life as an artist. Fair warning: it’s all in the early phases so surely many shifts will come, but rest assured there will be a healthy dose of humor, institutional critique, and collage. At the moment my biggest challenge, as usual, is overcoming large technological obstacles needed to execute this vision floating around in my head (and more notebooks than I should mention). This idea is so crazy exciting that, frankly, it might just be impossible. We shall see. There will eventually be a website for the project so keep tabs on my social media to watch it develop.
The Near Past
The past few months I’ve been spending so much time looking forward and thinking about thesis that this post is the first opportunity to side down and really reflect on life over the past 2 years. My time at Columbia College Chicago has been life changing. The MFA program has pushed my creativity so much and challenged my ideas in ways I never imagined. The pace of hyper-speed mental revelations has only been outpaced by my level of artistic output. And I don’t mean that I’m creating work solely for the sake of creating art, but rather I’m creating work that means something to me, my artistic development, and hopefully resonates with someone else in this huge, crazy world.
Everyday I’ve learned something new in this process. I’ve also learned what sort of life I want to live as an artist. I’ve learned that in the midst of constant uncertainty, I find certainty in my hands and voice. I’ve learned that the faculty are humans and that there is no one perfect program/city/class. I’ve learned that being an artist at this moment in time in history is simultaneously exceptionally hard and amazingly liberating. I’ve learned that my cohort and I are in this together and that we’re not only a support system but also friends. I’ve learned going to school in the heart of downtown Chicago is sorta magical; it never gets old or any less beautiful.
I’ve also been listening to Steven Pressfield’s audiobook of The Artist’s Journey on repeat for weeks. It’s short and the closest thing to truth that I’ve ever heard about being an artist. Whatever path you’re on, I’d encourage you to give it a listen. Trust me, but more importantly, trust yourself.