MFA Rankings = A Whole Lot of BS

Been researching more MFA programs lately, and attended the SFAI Graduate Portfolio Day yesterday.  A few observations:

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The view from SFAI is both beautiful and ominous. Symbolic in many ways.

1. Researching MFA programs and MFA prospects is inherently depressing. But I was given great feedback on my portfolio, particularly by Scott Hess, from Laguna College of Art + Design, Yolanda Hester from Art Center College of Design, and SFAI. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2. I met this 20-year old girl from Fresno who had a solid graphic design portfolio, who wanted to learn more about MFA programs but was totally shut down and discouraged by CalArts and Art Center. I told her she’s already ahead of the game by just showing up and putting herself out there, because most artists find excuses not to show up (for a myriad of absurd reasons). This appeared to make her feel better, but it brings me to this point: Art Schools, you are not doing anyone justice by being jerks. Your role is to educate and help. Quit being snobs.

3. Why is US News.com still considered a reliable source for school rankings? Their ranking methodology looks largely like a whole lot of bullshit: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2013/03/11/methodology-best-fine-arts-schools-rankings

“Schools in the specialty rankings, which are based solely on nominations from school officials, are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received as long as the school/program received seven or more nominations in that specialty area.” 

….Um, Are you kidding me? 


Too Big to Jail

Since http://cindyshih.posterous.com/ is shutting down for good at the end of April, I guess I should start posting everything here. Not sure why I didn’t before, but so it goes…

Cool Story. So, I was feeling a bit under the weather on Monday when I finished up my latest illustration piece on an article from The Nation titled, “Why Don’t White Collar Criminals Get Equal Time?” By William Greider.  When I don’t feel quite finished yet, I sometimes post to Instagram first- which led to THE MOST AMAZING THING: Lil Wayne the Rapper liking my post!!

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Honestly, I think the whole thing is quite hilarious- considering it’s probably one of his many publicists managing his instagram account, but just in case- I told him to contact me if he ever wanted me to do an album cover for him. The offer still stands, Lil Wayne! (E-M-A-I-L-M-E)

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But here’s the finished product, which I added to a mock-up of the layout of the article, just to make it look all professional-like. The piece is supposed to be a bit vague but interesting enough to make someone want to read the otherwise boring article. I purposefully chose green on an off-white background to imitate the look and feel of money, and used imagery from the dollar bill along with the invisible hands of Capitalism framing and protecting those within it. The text reads in Latin, “Quoque Magnus Ad Carcerem” a translation of “Too Big To Jail.”


I’m Getting Better At This Artist Thing.

Hey Friendly Friends, I haven’t said nuthin’ on this chat lately because I’ve been busy with making stuff. It’s part of the pursuit to getting my personal MFA. So if anyone asks me where I got my Art Degree, I can probably just point to this URL.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking some more on the topic of “Fine Art and it’s Relevancy to the Real World,” and I still have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to understanding this crazy industry. In spirit of not writing an entire novel about this and relating to my audience, here are a few things I’ve discovered in my short period of “being an artist” in bullet points:

  • People like Artists, and they like Art, but they don’t know what to do with it. Like, Dude…Art? “Is there an App for that?”
  • Technology represents an unsurmountable obstacle to most artists, and it’s often represented as a magic bullet (especially in the Bay Area) but it’s really more of a tool to get from point A to B
  • Capitalism = Trade, Trade = Rewards Technicians (Not lofty academics)
  • Fine Art is perceived to have gone the way of lofty academics. There’s “chicken and egg” situation here: Artists revert to framing their work in a lofty, academic way because they often can’t find an application for it in society that admittedly hasn’t really found a use for it.
  • As Art relates to Money: Value is dictated by expertise in our society. “Expertise in Art” is subjective and undefined.

A friend shared this article with me from WSJ this morning, which touches on a few points I’ve made above in further detail. (Thanks, Kevin Palmer!) This quote in the article struck me specifically:

“Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible.”

I find this to be true, during my time at Google, as well as now in the Art world… that what others perceive as “entitlement” in our generation might really be an actual awareness of how archaic and irrelevant our education has become in the current economic system. I mean, I’ve worked with 22-year olds who speak four languages fluently, created non-profits across the world, *and* was an internationally re-known chess player whose only real ‘value’ in our society is approving online ads and answering calls for the world’s most successful tech company.

This certainly opens up another can of worms, and perhaps speaks to an age-old problem that goes beyond our generation, or even our society– but in Art, I feel that the disconnect is even more profound. Going back to my bullet points above, I think there are two points that provide some hope to the future of Fine Art:

  • Capitalism = Trade, Trade = Rewards Technicians
  • Value is dictated by expertise in our society. “Expertise in Art” is subjective and undefined

Here’s where I want to clarify that this is not a knock on Capitalism. I, for one, enjoy the benefits of capitalism. It certainly has its problems, but I’m pretty sure as a young, minority woman, I am doing much better here, than I would be in another country.

In any case, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers to this quite yet. But I’m happy to have typed this all out and looked at it, so that I can remind myself what my goals are in my pursuit to “becoming a real artist,” and what it means for me. What it means for me is that I will be:

  1. Getting better at my Craft: That means, taking as many relevant classes and learning as many skills/materials/tools/techniques as humanly possible.
  2. Defining what Art is for me, and how it provides Value to others

Oh, and if you’re free this Friday, October 12th, please come over to Big Umbrella Studios in San Francisco (Divisadero and McAllister) for the “From the Darkness Creeps” show.

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My work will also be featured in “Provocations” by RAWArtists.org on Thursday, October 25th. http://www.rawartists.org/sanfrancisco/provocations This show should be a ton of fun… it’s at 1015 Folsom, and there will a fashion show, aerial and burlesque dancers, a bar, DJs, etc. For all my Facebook peeps, here’s the FB invite.

My work will also be up at 33 Gough from October 9th (tomorrow) to November 27th.  It will also likely be at the College Gallery at City College on the Ocean Campus, from October 22nd to November 5th.

Sorry for the shameless plugs, but I figured if you read this far you’re somewhat invested. Thanks for being awesome. Time to go back to the studio and get BUSY.


If I had a dollar for every Still Life I’ve painted…

I would probably be making more money Painting. 🙂

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It’s been awhile since I’ve bust out the oils, so I wasn’t sure if I should start from the beginning, or stay in an intermediate class. In hindsight, I’m glad I’m in the intermediate class now, because the beginning class has already painted an orange, two green apples, and is graduating to painting a mug on a white background. I think I’d poke my eyes out with a palette knife if I had to do that again, so instead… I painted my ode to a garlic. It’s a color study, as well as a warm-up to oils. I’m excited to start working with oils again.


Good Friday Brings Good News!

I forgot to mention in my Zoolander-like pensiveness on my earlier post, that my work is currently up in a group show in Building B at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Also, I just received news that I’ll have a solo exhibit at the gallery on 33 Gough in October this year. Here are some other exhibits happening at this 33 Gough now.

Probably won’t have details until later, but happy to share the news!


Comparing the Top MFA Programs: Yale School of Art

Yale School of Art (http://art.yale.edu)

Yale School of Art is arguably the most elite of art schools, and one that would make any gallery drop what they’re doing and check out your porfolio. According to a 2003 survey “of deans and department chairs, one per school, at 213 master of fine arts programs” conducted by U.S. News & World Report, the School shares a number one ranking with the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for Masters of Fine Arts programs. Notable alumni (at least, the ones that I know) are household name artists such as Matthew Barney, Eva Hesse, Chuck Close, Richard Serra, etc. Apparently, only 21 applicants a year are admitted to the painting program.

Here’s what you would need to apply to the art school:

Portfolio Requirements (http://art.yale.edu/Admissions)

PAINTING/PRINTMAKING PORTFOLIO REQUIREMENTS

Portfolios are submitted online as part of the online application. The portfolio submission interface will allow you to label each image with a title, a date of completion, the materials used, and a brief description of the work. Digital files must adhere strictly to the specifications outlined below.

Portfolio Contents

Upload a total of sixteen (16) still images and/or moving image files. Only work completed within the last three years should be included, and at least half (8) should be work made in the last twelve months. In the review process, the admissions committee is concerned with scale and the tactility of the work. For this reason, paintings and drawings must be photographed showing the surrounding wall or background. Paintings and drawings must not be digitally masked in black to the edges of the work. Three-dimensional works should also show the surrounding space and context. Do not include detail photos of work in your portfolio unless you consider them absolutely necessary. Under no circumstance should more than two detail shots be included. If you are presenting both still and moving images, please present them in two groups with all still images followed by all moving images. Within these groups, all still and/ or moving image files should be in chronological order starting with the oldest and ending with the most recent work.

File format for still images

To conform to our viewing format, each still image file may be no larger than 16 MB. Do not format images in any presentation program (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), or include composite images (more than one work per file). Still image files may be sent in jpeg, png, bmp, or tiff format.

File format for videos and moving images

Videos will be accepted in QuickTime, AVI, FLV, MP4, or WMV format. Video files should be no longer than one minute in length, and the size of your video uploads is limited to 250 MB. Please note that videos are considered as part of your selection of sixteen files, not as additional material. Do not include titles or credits within the video files. If you are primarily a video artist and wish to submit a longer video, you may post it on your own website and provide that website link at the bottom of the portfolio page.

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