From: shannon stoney (email@example.com)
Date: 10/19/01-11:51:41 AM Z
> Hey, Shannon, maybe you and I will be appllying to the same place at
>the same time and meet each other!
Maybe! although I probably won't go far from Houston, seeing as how I
like to see my partner every so often.
>> 'there is something happening Mr. Jones . . and, you don't know what it
>> Bob Dylan
>> To add another vegetable to the stew pot . . or is this discussion on
>> I've taught since '69 here @ the Art Institute and in the grad program
>> the early 70's.
>> The student was fairly new to the idea of obtaining an MFA in photography.
>> We were similar in age and I was the 'gang' leader. We all worked and
>> shared the produced images. Each of us were excited by the creativity
>> amongst ourselves and the potential for new directions.
>> Slowly, as I grew older, and the hippy thing and the Viet Nam war subsided
>> and Reagan/Bush plopped into power, the realization of teaching became
>> critical and the average student to the MFA program knew less about being
>> artist but knew more regarding photography.
>> We started seeing well made portfolios of almost non-content imagery.
>> I overblow my statement, much work was objective/possessive rather than
>> poetically portrayed.
>> Our probram expanded to include more art history and even the PM aspects
>> theory. Some teachers came in and tore everyone and everything apart with
>> Post Modernism. Now that much of it is understood better and accepted (it
>> was very difficult churning the obtuse language to create a more
>> comprehension), we have what we consider to be a far more rigorous
>> course for the student to follow.
>> Also, in fairness to the institutions you may refer to and the
>> teachers....yes, some are turkeys and some places are dull, yet the
>> enlivenment of a program is, in my mind, due to the creative energies and
>> interests of the students.
>> Keep in mind that students are 'invited' to participate. For instance, we
>> may have over 90 portfolios to look through. Out of those, our faculty
>> (which is four: Linda Connor, myself, Reagan Louie and Henry Wessel) is
>> aided in our choices by: additional faculty who are adjunct or invited,
>> complete graduate class who are given two votes. We may pick about 4 to 6
>> candidates (5%) but the program needs to take ten to maintain the size and
>> quality of the program. From past experience it is realized that twenty
>> to be invited for an average of 50% attend. NONE of the original 5 chosen
>> may come and we could end up with the program holding 12 people we did not
>> relish to as great a degree as those we found held more votes.
>> Then, the task becomes more focused on teaching. More often than not those
>> invited rise to the occasion and do well. Another classic example of the
>> average student is the person who comes in with a portfolio and thereby
>> out to 'experiment' and create something completely different. It is the
>> rare person who is creatively capable of such an endeavor and they return
>> (in almost 75% or more of all cases) to their original work and expand it
>> It is my feeling the student ought to come into a program with a strong
>> of work and expand upon that. By doing so they will slowly put together a
>> body that holds variety such as that of a well led life. They will also
>> refine the raison d'etre for the work as a whole and be able more to
>> what it is they are actually doing. Curators et al, in general, like to
>> a "body' of work so they can mull it over and choose images THEY feel to
>> important. I'd rather have the contemporary photographer do it. However,
>> there are such examples as Walker Evans not knowing diddly about his work
>> "American Photographs' which is fully edited by Lincoln Kerstein.
>> I am sure some of what I have said may be taken cum grano salis but it is
>> scenario not uncommon. The student entering a program, whether at our
> > institution of @ UNM, Chicago, Pratt, VSA, Seattle, Arizona, wherever
>> be prepared to work their butt off making photographs, That is the key . .
>> to make the photographs and let them be.
>> Jack Fulton
>> > On Thu, 18 Oct 2001, shannon stoney wrote:
>> >> teach them. People in my classes still want to know things like how
>> >> to use the zone system, how to use a view camera, how to process 4x5
>> >> film. They have been asking about this stuff for a long time, and
>> >> since our teacher has been stalling on teaching that stuff, they ask
>> >> me to show them how to do these things.
>> > I loved grad school, but I used to say it was like a Victorian lecture
>> > marriage, a lot of talk about the beauties of conjugal love, but if you
>> > asked about HOW IT WAS DONE (film, development, etc.) you were quickly
>> > shushed.
>> >> In one of the best drawing classes I ever took, the most helpful
>> >> things I learned were some "technique" things. The teacher could
>> >> teach these things because he was a working artist. He didn't go on
>> >> and on about theory; he taught us how he worked. That was very
>> >> helpful.
>> > Right -- no "theory of drawing."
>> >> Not to say that theory is never helpful; it just seems as if lately
>> >> it has become a substitute for anything else substantive, because in
>> >> a way it's easier to talk about books and words than it is to get
>> >> down to making something.
>> > Not to mention that theory remains state-of-the-art about as long as
>> > software.. If you go back & read "theory" of, for instance, the '70s,
>> > it's like another planet... which many tenured profs are from.
>> >> position on why you did something or why it's better to take pictures
>> >> of flowers or not take pictures of flowers for example. My problem
>> >> with the teachers at my school is that they don't support their
>> >> theories with any good reasons. They just beat people up with them.
>> >> They have been doing this, unchallenged, for so long that they have
>> >> forgotten, if they ever knew, why they believe the things they
>> >> believe. I think they accepted them as dogma at some point in their
>> >> careers and have never really examined the validity of these ideas,
>> >> or their practicality, or their effect on students, especially young,
>> >> hesitant students. I am an old, stubborn student, so I mostly blow
>> >> it off. But I end up defending younger, less confident people a lot.
>> > Very well said !... Of course one hopes to produce art that transcends
>> > theory... which, alas, may not be clear until we also are, so-to-speak,
>> > transcended.
>> > Judy
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