This afternoon I went to a MFA info session and facilities tour at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA. The program is highly competitive, with anywhere from 90 to 190 applicants (at worst a 1/31 chance of getting in).
Here are some factoids I’d like to share with you:
- The resources at CMU are astounding. They have a 3-D printer. Not just a few huge photo printers and massive scanners that can scan materials up to 1″ thick and a scanner that can go all the way around you head — no, they have a 3-D printer. You may have guessed it, this is a program that believes the future is now.
- I was getting a little bit angsty with all this need for technology. I am trained as a painter after all, and I do love, love love to paint. How could I adapt into this world where printmaking was being cut to make room for a digital studio and the ceramics studio was pretty miniscule?
- Speaking of small, one of the few issues faced by CMU is a losing battle against needing space. They have more resources than I could name on this blog, but their undergraduates are working in the hallways. It’s something they are trying to address, potentially by renting some student studio spaces off campus.
- I was pretty intimidated, actually with the specification of education offered to their undergraduates, and the modes of art-making they were able to excel in (robotics, for example), which I had never even thought of utilizing before. It’s not that I’m not interested in working with technology – I certainly am! But I never had the resources or even introductions into work that could be created in those parameters. So in some ways, it was totally scary and new and intimidating, and in other ways it was so exciting, eye-opening and inspiring! It made me think about how much more I want/need to do with the issues I am concerned with.
- One cool thing – the first person I met in the CMU Fine Arts department is gay. Hurrah! Not that it’s a requirement, but I would prefer to live/work/study in a queer-friendly environment.
- In fact, 2012 MFA student Jonathan Armistead focused his thesis on sexuality and masculinity. So cool.
“Today’s masculinity is in a state of transition . My own figure, slightly overweight, is actually a fairly universal body type. Thus, I look to my own life experience as I study and sculpt the truly average male form. I am a gay man and my work is as often about human sexuality as it is homosexuality. In addition to depicting issues of sexuality, I am interested in issues of organized religion, atheism and personal spirituality. I often find myself wondering what brings people to such equally passionate and dispassionate vies on these topics”
I was lucky to meet Filipe Castelblanco, a current MFA student at Carnegie, not only was he very friendly, and eager to share his experiences, but I later discovered via his website that he is a phenomenal artist, whose work is very inspiring and seriously cool.
My suggestions for myself (and for anyone else visiting a grad school) would be to prepare some questions ahead of time. I didn’t expect the tour and info session to be so overwhelming, but it really was and I was doing my best to keep track of all the information being thrown at me. Generate some questions you would like to know and review them a few times before heading to campus. It shows faculty that you have a serious interest in their program, and it’s also the ideal time to get those questions answered.