BFA, What do you say?

By Monique Resnick, Visual Artist, LaVaLab Member & Guest Editor

The year is 2015, there are no flying cars (yet), KFC has expanded their menu immensely, and I’m graduating from art school. This means leaving the cushy student life I have and transitioning to the working world. I am graduating with a BFA in painting and I’m beginning to feel the panic.

This is my second undergrad after completing a degree in Art History. I always saw myself going into fashion, because really what person didn’t want to design clothing and live a ‘super lifestyle.’ I enrolled into fiber design at OCADU, and realized that design was a little more than messing about with cool looking textiles, it was simply not for me. I still have a great appreciation for it and I’ll continue to admire good design. A required course in the fiber program was jewelry design. For assignment two I sawed away at a piece of metal, breaking about 15 saws in five minutes, one saw tends to carry people through a project. I called my mom (she knows best) and she said maybe this is simply not for me. She asked me if painting would be more preferable. I thought to myself no way, that’s something I do in my spare time in the basement.

Four years later I’ll be graduating from a program where painting is discussed inside out, and this past time in the basement has a little more significance.

 

A BFA is not an MSW, it’s not a certificate in the trades, and it’s not an MBA. I don’t know if it’s fair to mention the latter because people who graduate with these certifications don’t necessarily find jobs. But I am just saying there is a greater need for people with these skill sets than there are for artists.

Graduating with a BFA tends to boggle my mind. One has to understand and accept that they likely will not be in a studio space full time, seven days a week. Unfortunately the romantic idea of a full time studio practice is not the reality for many graduates, which I have come to understand. It may not be the reality for myself in 10-20 years, maybe it’ll never be.

When people ask me what I want to do, I tend to freeze up, but have mastered this answer by saying work in a commercial gallery, or art education. They’re answers that won’t result in a lot of questions, and they’re not far from the truth. If I answered I want to make art for a living, I can only imagine the furor of questions and remarks that would result.

After attending a seminar, ‘Start your Professional Practice Now’ at my school I am beginning to understand what my degree means. It doesn’t mean a BFA will put a person into the workforce immediately. It means one is an artist and should continually make art but it may not pay the bills. I know for myself something is inside me to create, to get messy. If I didn’t do this I wouldn’t feel right, I’d become unhappy, it happened to me in my first undergrad where essay writing, and reading filled my days. I never painted, drew and I found the environment non conducive to my personality and artistic passions.

Two OCADU alumnae spoke at the seminar, mentioned above. They have great day jobs but after they go home it’s time to do what feeds their souls, hit their studios. To fulfill both, they told us how they had to cut back on hours, and decline promotions to continue their studio practice. I know I won’t fall out of painting or creating because as mentioned before I’ll likely become unhappy. I have four more months left, a big grad show, and a summer full of job hunting. I’d like to call it career hunting but I know my passions will truly reside in the studio setting, where something inside me comes alive.

If I could go back in time and change my education path, would I? Absolutely not. The uncertainty is a little exhilarating, things may not be easy but I’m up for a challenge.

About Monique:

“Everything from purchasing clothes or food, filling my car with gas to watching my bath empty shapes the art I make. My interests lie in socioeconomic status, sociology, and economics. I use various mediums when I work but find myself falling back on a painted 2D surface. I am passionate about visual arts and sharing what I create with the world around me. Each piece has a story that I hope can be used as an educational tool. I believe art can continuously inspire people, and society can be moved by the art they see, just as I have been. See my work at http://moniqueresnick.com/. I also enjoy writing about various art subjects that have inspired me to comment. Another site of mine is http://monkeyapeart.wordpress.com/.

See Monique’s LaVaLab profile at http://lavalab.ca/artist/48


 


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