Monday, September 7, 2015

It's OK To Like What You Do! by Caitlin Peck

Just over two years after my last day of graduate school at Moore College of Art & Design I finally consider my adjustments post art school. I’m comparing what I thought I knew then to my actual experience in the art world now. After 7 years submerged in art academia, I only knew artists and artsy people. In the past two years, I’ve sidled up to more non-artists and realized art school is really more a corral for artists rather than a reflection of what my social circle would consist of upon release. My new crew gained me insight on two tandem lessons. Number one: don’t take yourself too seriously because, number two: no one has any idea what you’re talking about. In the close-knit community of a MFA program, where you’re regurgitating your thesis over and over again to your peers and professors, eventually everyone becomes as much of an expert on your research as yourself. I remember one of my first interactions outside of the art school bubble and the inevitable question: “So, what is your work about?” My elevator speech suddenly sounded completely inadequate. For over two years I was practicing mine on 9 other people and thought it concise and perfected. In reality, my listeners perfected their understanding. Over time I learned the importance of stripping away the eye-rolling art jargon to build a more relatable subject line to my studio practice. In not taking myself too seriously, I struggled outside of art school with this confusing revelation: I can do what I want. There is jest about Catholic or Jewish guilt; if things are enjoyable, they can’t be good. No one talks about art school guilt. Nearly all ex-art students I encounter suffer from this. One of my problems with higher learning in the arts is artists are trained to meet some goal at the determination of others. Sometimes that means sacrifice. Graduate classes had such a serious attitude and after graduation I thought my studio practice needed to be met in the same way. It doesn’t. I became more productive in the studio once “fun” lost its rank as another kind of f-word and realized it’s OK to like what I do.

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