Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grad School Week 78 - A Dose of Truth, Whitman, and Ford

"I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of
the world are latent in any iota of the world...

I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities,
insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds,
rejected refuse, than I have supposed...

I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and
exteriors have their exteriors - and that the
eye-sighted has another eyesight, and the hear-ing another hearing,
and the voice another

-Walt Whitman

I found out that today, via the Writer's Almanac, that it is the birthday of a favorite writer, Richard Ford. Ford said, " The thing about being a writer is that you never have to ask, 'Am I doing something that is worthwhile?' Because even if you fail at it, you know it's worth doing."

I admire Ford's faith in his craft and it brings up a point I have never addressed in this blog. Graduate school, art in general, is an act completely shrouded in failure. Your technical ability, the skill of realizing your ideas visually, the mechanics of kilns and glazes, are all processes that one fails at achieving over and over again. The critique, the ultimate measure of one's art in an educational setting, is often an act in being told where and how you have failed. The profundity of one's failure is laid bare before you, sometimes in front of others, and sometimes you realize the shortcomings of your work in solitude.

What needs to be said is this: graduate school is an exercise in correcting mistakes, pushing yourself far beyond your comfort level, and making work that is often on the cusp of even your own understanding. 

The internet glosses over the challenges. Everyone is having more fun than you are on Facebook. But here is an ounce of truth to counter the balance: graduate school is hard. It is often depressing and all consuming. It can eat you up. It is an unpleasant place to be at times.

I am not complaining. But, if this blog is going to be a true reckoning of the experience, certain things must be said. I am not having more fun than you on Facebook. My Instagram account is not a chronicle of victory. Spotify is not playing anthems. This blog is not a chronicle of success. 

Not to end on a dour note, however, there are victories and progress. That is the whole point of the endeavor. The things that are worth doing, are also inevitably difficult and take time. No one said it was going to be easy, only that it would be worth it. So when you open that studio door each morning, you can count your failures, but also count your blessings.

Amen, and thanks for reading.


smartcat said...

Those are some fine pots. Your work has certainly grown and morphed over the last 78 weeks!

I finally finished my degree 22 yrs. ago. I found that if I thought of it as the place where I had the luxury of failing if a project didn't work it became a huge gift.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
-Bill Cosby

much love to my fellow gradschool survivor!