It's very difficult to make art in an isolated environment, and we really need to have a group around us and people to bounce ideas off of, people to really share and be open with. And I think that intangible quality, which is really hard to express in any other form, has become one of the most powerful and meaningful components of the MFA program recently. The Visual Arts program is a low residency program, where 10 days, twice a year, students come in January and June. We're based in Cambridge, which is an incredible resource academically, artistically. We've had a lot of artists and curators and members of the art world as part of our faculty or visiting faculty or speakers. It gives the flexibility of someone who's living, not in Cambridge, but around the country and some international students to come to Cambridge and have an intensive, where they get a lot of their critical theory, they get a lot of critique. They're part of a really resonant community.
You're pushed to think about things differently and explore different mediums. It's super intense. I mean, 10 days at a residency and going through almost 20 critiques of your work and have that change your trajectory of the way your practice might go.
And they take a lot of information back home with them, and there, they do their studio work. They work with a local mentor.
I've had artists that were showing and exhibiting at the ICA Boston come into my own living room, come to my studio. We sit down, we have tea together on a monthly basis, and you get to really know them on this intimate and personal level. And I think that allows them to get really deep into your work, deep into your concepts.
And they do all their academic work with their faculty advisor. So it allows the student to have real structure, a lot of flexibility to blend their job and their lives and their families and other obligations with a graduate experience, while being placed in the academic center of the US.
I teach art to junior high students full time. I also had a baby during my time in the program. So I wouldn't have been able to do a traditional master's program. However, it doesn't mean it was any less work, and it taught me how to make art a consistent priority in my life, even when I have a full time job and family obligations.
So I'm really about looking at what students are doing, and really trying to feed them a lot of options to really make it the best possible work they can. One thing that I've seen every single semester is the remarkable transformation that happens from group one to the graduating group five.
An artist is actually a creative entrepreneur. The art skill set is something that's become increasingly valuable, and I think art is not a just about the production of something visual, but it's about an entire philosophy of engagement.