April 16, 2013 • Comments (0)
The ‘Impeach Barbara Vacarr’ Facebook page
The Impeach Dr. Barbara Vacarr Facebook page recently came to my attention. Dr. Vacarr is the current president of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. The FB page hosts a letter, written to the Goddard College Board of Trustees by someone who is obviously close to the Vermont campus scene.
Originally posted as several images, the letter has been transcribed below for easier reading. Scroll to the bottom to download the original images.
April 07, 2013 • Comments (0)
You have a feeling inside that you will somehow figure out how to pay for school after you’ve attended. You feel that going to graduate school is the best way to be discovered. Despite other people warning you about it, you just instinctively know you’ll be okay.
Perhaps you live in your parent’s basement or you’ve got a new born and a dead-end job. Maybe you’re over 40 and you feel that MFA will give you that career boost you need. These aren’t good reasons, especially if you have to borrow money for tuition.
You purchased a new car on credit and completely paid it off one month at a time. You’ve got a house. You accumulated debt on credit cards and paid it all down to zero. You borrowed money from a loan shark and managed to not get your fingers broken. If so, you might be prepared to borrow money for graduate school tuition and pay it off monthly over the next ten or twenty years.
Graduate school might be an amazing experience. It’s also possible your experience will suck or be just okay. But then again, maybe it will be better than you could ever imagine. Gambling on whether or not grad school will be great is kind of the fun of it, right? If you don’t do enough research before enrolling, high stakes gambling is exactly what you’re doing.
You want an upper level degree and you want it now! If you had that degree last week you could have applied for so many great jobs. Maybe you’ve got a narrow window before the ease of going to graduate school closes because a baby is on the way or you’re going to move. If something is pressing you like that, perhaps it’s not the best time to make such a huge commitment.
If you have it in your mind that an MFA will help your career because potential employers are throwing out resumes that don’t contain the three letters “MFA,” you may be right—that is, if you’re looking to teach. College hiring teams claim to choose potential professors based on their portfolio. That may be true because, in order to be considered for a professorship, the assumption is that each applicant already has an MFA.
If you have you been rejected time and time again from opportunities that were offered to you and then rescinded because you don’t have an MFA, then an MFA might be the way to go.
Some people go to graduate school to earn their MFA with the idea that at least they will be able to teach art when they graduate if they want to. If you are considering teaching on the college level as an adjunct, definitely read the Adjunct Project, which is a collection of experiences penned by actual adjunct professors. The site also lists current pay scale data for colleges in your area.
If you’re going for an MFA primarily for the experience of being critiqued by your peers, it simply means you’re not currently getting your work out there enough. If you were making and showing art regularly then you’d be getting critiqued, praised, criticized, and reviewed for free.
Write down all of the reasons you want an MFA. How many reasons do you have? How many of those reasons can be remedied or addressed without paying tuition? Can you make creative projects based around your reasons? For instance, if you’re looking to learn about art history, start an art history collective. If you’re looking to learn about color theory, take a continuing education course on that specific topic or get a DVD from the library. If you want to go for an MFA to legitimatize your practice for two years, well…
February 18, 2013 • Comments (0)
The following letter is from Goddard College’s direct neighbor in Plainfield, VT. If you’re not familiar with this situation, read about Goddard’s planned 2.3 million dollar biomass plant.
My name is Karen and I bought the President’s house from Goddard 30 years ago. I am now being faced with the option of living next to a pollutant spewing factory incinerator—which will coat my lungs with toxins that will enter my bloodstream and kill me quicker than anything in nature ever would—or leave my home in which I was hoping to see grandchildren run around in someday, the way my children did years ago.
I am appalled that an institution like Goddard has been granted an Act250 permit and a zoning permit from the Town of Plainfield when no research has been done by the College to address the issue of nano particles. These particles are .1 micron and pass directly into the blood stream where they wreak havoc inside the heart, lungs, and other organs. No ESP will remove them. They are killers. The particles are too small and do not have enough electrons to generate enough of a charge for them to be removed. VT has the highest rate of asthma in the country. We also coincidentally have the highest level of biomass combustion. There are more plants in Washington County than anywhere in the state.
We all know that this is about a group of people getting together to push these plants through so that the huge tax dollars and grants and incentives (which the citizens end up paying for) are made available through corrupt laws and legislation. By 2020 there will be 800 million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere that will be unaccounted for because these plants are not required to report their CO2 emissions. This is a nightmare. What an atrocity. All for greed. Not a single thought for the planet and what the effects of biomass has on the people who live here.
• Goddard College: Biomass forum funding falters
• Goddard College biomass plant meets resistance
• Plainfield, Vermont Residents Near Goddard College Oppose Biomass Plant
• Neighbors challenge Goddard College wood chip heating system
February 16, 2013 • Comments (0)
If you’re feeling uncertain about staying in Goddard College’s low residency Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Art degree program, read the following…
Everything you are feeling is 100% valid and justified. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re being whiny for any reason. So many other people question the validity of the program but never say anything for fear of being ostracized by the community. Trust your gut and take action.
Things at Goddard are not going to change. The school has been operating its free-form process for many, many years.
Imagine Goddard like a church—but one that’s the total opposite of whatever it is you do or don’t believe. Now imagine trying to change that church to see things your way.
As Goddard will tell you: Your options are to “transform,” adapt to, and accept Goddard’s way or you can leave.
If you’re going to go someplace else for school, early is arguably the best time to do it. You have a better chance of not losing (as much) money or college credit if you transfer sooner rather than later. There are many other low residency programs out there. If you’re a G4, stick it out and see below.
If you have expressed your frustration with Goddard to a faculty member and you choose to stay in the program, you need to cover your butt. At the next residency (or in your current packets) tell that faculty member, “Oh wow! I get it! Trust the process! Something shifted and I just get it! Thank you so much!” Doing this will smoothen things out as the Goddard employee will feel that the magic of the program finally broke through your resistance walls and transformed you. If they perceive you as having been transformed, they will no longer need to worry about you expressing dissonance.
If you choose to stay, don’t complain again. Just do whatever you want and fly under the radar. That works for a lot of students. Don’t ask permission, do as you please, and justify your actions with some confident Goddard speak.
January 31, 2013 • Comments (0)
A pass/fail system is different from the current A, B, C, D, F grading system in that there is no scale of performance in the pass/fail scenario. You either made it or you didn’t.
The pass/fail system is often accompanied by a narrative transcript, which is the part of the student’s history that explains their performance. In a typical pass-fail program, an advisor doesn’t grade the student and instead determines if the student accomplished what they set out to do in their learning plan. Advisors look to answer the following questions: Did learning occur? Is there evidence of growth? Overall is it a yes or a no?
One of the positives about a pass/fail system is that it eliminates the student’s desire to simply achieve an “A.” The pass/fail system ostensibly allows students to focus on performing the lessons to the best of their own ability without fear of being compared to fellow students. The letter grading system is arguably based on how well a student follows directions while the pass/fail system looks at innovation, motivation, and results.
In self-designed learning environments, it is common that a student will over design their learning goals. As a result, the student only achieves a portion of what they set out to do within a given semester, quarter, or term. If the student were being graded with a letter grade then the incompletion of their plan could be seen as a failure. However, in the pass/fail system the student could be recognized learning not to bite off more than they could chew and they could still pass.
A con with the pass/fail system in experiential education programs is that it’s hard to define the criteria for a pass or failure. Students often don’t know what’s expected of them and those who judge the student sometimes have a hard time reaching a verdict. What’s more, many of the experiential educations programs are smaller in size meaning that the student and the teacher form a more personal relationship. It can be very difficult for a teacher to fail someone if they like the student as a person, especially if the criteria are vague.
January 15, 2013 • Comments (3)
Cory Huff, The Abundant Artist
Hi there! I’m Cory Huff – actor, director, storyteller, husband, digital strategist, monster hunter, and translator of technical things for artists. I live in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the above, I have an avowed interest in, nay, a passion for, food. I’m also a big fan of all things geekery – Dungons and Dragons, board games, video games, and t-shirts with hilariously obscure pop culture references.
My fourth grade teacher, frustrated with my inability to sit still or pay attention, suggested to my mother that I might be a good candidate for Summer theater classes. For auditions, I made up a monologue about a fish being born, caught, and brought home to fry on a pan. Ever since then I’ve had a strong desire to be an artist on my own terms. That led me to theater and storytelling.
I had learned a lot about online marketing by working for a digital marketing agency (landing that job is an entirely too-long tangent that I will share with you if asked directly). Some artist friends asked me if I could share with them how to sell their art online, so I started this blog at TheAbundantArtist.com as a little side project. Three years later, I kept the name, but everything else has changed.
People started asking me for coaching, so we did that for a while, but you can only reach so many people that way. I decided to start doing group courses, then we created a membership site where you can watch pre-recording coaching sessions, collaborate with other artists, and ask questions. It’s been pretty awesome to see so many artists grow. One of my early clients now sells her art for over $20,000 a pop, which is pretty great. I’m most excited about the number of artists who have found the courage to actually go out and make a living from their art.
That it’s hard. It’s actually not nearly as hard as you might think. You just have to know how. There are some types of art that don’t lend themselves well to making a living, but for the most part, it can be done if you learn how.
Another misconception is that good art somehow magically sells itself. A few artists who were discovered by a big name gallery owner or who managed to luck into the right formula at the right time will tell you that all you have to do is make art and the rest takes care of itself, but there are a lot more very talented artists who hustle every day to make it happen.
Finally, I’d say that a lot of artists have a subconscious script that tells them that if they’re not making money from their art it’s okay, because that just makes their art better. It’s the Starving Artist mentality, which is total bull crap.
Yes, liberally! You have to make a living to purchase your raw materials. If you have a family, it’s a great feeling to support your family with your art.
Personally, I look at money as a tool, nothing more. When people say that art makes an artist complacent or not as good, I think that has a lot more to do with the artist than it does money.
“Untrained” is a relative word. I know some artists who never went to college who are amazingly talented. I know some artists who went to art school who really suck.
Ironically, and hilariously, most of the artists I know who make a good living never went to art school. I know artists who used to have the following professions: oil pipeline engineer, stay at home mother, marketing executive, ad agency creative director, horse breeder, and retail clothing store employee. None of these people started their careers with the idea of being an artist – they all came to it later in life.
What they did was develop a keen interest in art, spent countless hours honing their skill, and even more hours learning the business of selling art. They didn’t grow up professionally in the traditional art world that told them they had to do it in a certain way, so they didn’t know what they weren’t supposed to be able to do.
Probably because, in the USA at least, that’s the way our culture works. You get a liberal arts education, and then you specialize in order to make a living. That’s what high school prepares you for. Our parents generation found great success by going to college, so they feel like we should do the same. It was a great model until college started costing so much.
I know that most people, especially young people, don’t know what kind of training options are available for any profession, let alone the professional artist. We have the idea that a certificate or degree confers upon us a right to have a job. The problem is that being a professional artist has far more in common with being an entrepreneur than it does with being a wage slave or cubicle jockey.
Also, there are no Federal Student Loan programs for coaching or apprenticeships.
Well, a good MFA program offers connections. Well-known, successful alumni that can help you meet the right people – agents, collectors, and gallery owners. Good MFA programs also offer an intense, prolonged period of focused study of your craft, ideally with strong mentors.
The problem, of course, is that there is a profusion of poor MFA programs staffed by teachers who tell their students that it’s not possible to make a living with their art, because they don’t know how to do it themselves.
“Artist coach” is a broad term. Coaches specialize in different areas. I primarily focus on selling art online, which is something that almost no MFA programs do, and the ones that I know of teach artists silly things like building a website from scratch, when almost nobody does that anymore.
Coaches frequently bring cutting edge, specialized knowledge. I know coaches who focus on licensing, getting in to galleries, doing paid installations, succeeding at art fairs, and a variety of other specialties. That’s just the business side. There’s even more coaches who teach art techniques.
If you are planning to teach at the college level, an MFA will probably be necessary.
By taking out student loans for an MFA, you will be paying $300 - $500 per month for the next 10 years (at least). If you aren’t planning to teach, then would you be better off just spending that money on individual instructors for the next few years? Do you have the discipline to keep up your practice and lessons outside of a classroom setting?
Immediately after graduation, be prepared to get another job in addition to making art. You are building a business, and you’ll need some short term cash to finance that business. If you can accrue another skill set while you’re at it, that can only help your business of making and selling art.
If you’re not willing or able to keep that kind of discipline for 3 – 5 years while you get your art business off of the ground, you might want to think about a different career choice. If you can’t imagine not being an artist, then more power to you and I wish you the best.
Primarily, I help artists get their art online and turn their art into an online business – helping you figure out how to connect with the right collectors, engage with them and get them excited enough about your work to buy it.
This usually means either going through one of my self-study courses, or working with me for a few weeks one on one to sort all of this out.
You can find out about my work at TheAbundantArtist.com.
January 09, 2013 • Comments (0)
Heather Jarvis graduated from Duke University School of Law cum laude owing $125,000 in student loans and facing 30-years’ worth of $1,200 monthly payments. After making some tough career decisions—earn money or follow her dreams—Heather now helps students navigate student debt.
I come from a long line of uneducated intellectuals and my sister and I are first generation college graduates. My parents never had money, so for me it was student loans or nothing.
I borrowed $125,000 to pay for my legal education. I went to law school so that I could help poor people facing criminal prosecution. I found that the high cost of education made it difficult for me and others to pursue our passions.
I advocate for student debt relief programs, loan repayment assistance, and loan forgiveness. I provide educational resources and training.
It is, yes. There are several different income driven repayment options that can really help with federal student loans. Unfortunately, private loans are different.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness is earned by making payments. A borrower has to make the right kind of payments, on the right kind of loans, while working in the right kind of job. Income-based repayment is a qualifying repayment plan for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and full-time, paid work for a 501(c)(3) non profit is generally qualifying employment. There is no provision that prevents people from working in a nonprofit that they founded.
Well, art students, like the rest of us, aren’t always clear about which kinds of loans are which and why that matters. Options for repaying loans depend upon the loans, for example whether the loans are federal or private.
Not exactly. There used to be a federally guaranteed loan program that insured banks against loss, and that was pretty sweet for the banks (not so much for the rest of us). The Obama administration took banks out of the federal student loan origination process.
Hell yeah they can. They can do a whole lot. The federal government can garnish wages without a court order, seize tax refunds, and even take a portion of social security benefits. They can do all that for the rest of your life. No kidding. There is no statute of limitations for collection of federal student loans (like with treason and espionage and pretty much nothing else). It’s brutal.
AVOID PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS! Borrow as little as you can and ALWAYS go for federal student loans first. Private loans are risky and expensive and lack the flexible repayment provisions and borrower protections of federal loans.
I’m at http://askheatherjarvis.com. I don’t work one-on-one with student loan borrowers, because state laws and rules of professional conduct mean I can only work with individuals in the state in which I’m licensed; however there is loads of free info on my site for borrowers, and I’d be glad to visit your campuses to provide training.
January 07, 2013 • Comments (0)
More and more low residency MFA programs are opening across America. Low Residency degree programs are the reality TV of higher education because they require no special location, they’re cheap to produce, and it’s easy for colleges to find willing participants.
Is a low residency program right for you? If you’re looking to learn new skills that get taught to you by a teacher, explore traditional education. If you want to get an MFA while living the life you already have, consider a low residency program.
Below are some pros and cons of low residency art MFA programs.
Many low residency art MFA programs are self-designed, meaning that you get to create your own learning experience. This is a positive thing if you’re very self directed, driven, and already have a plan for the art you wish to investigate and create over the next few years.
If you’ve got a great job that you don’t want to leave, the low residency MFA program allows you the flexibility to stay working while working on your degree. In some cases, your job can be part of your education. This is especially great if earning your degree means you’ll step up the ladder at work.
If you’re not being assigned a bunch of reading, you might be able to save money since you don’t have to buy a bunch of text books that you’ll never look at again.
If you do something credit-worthy, you can lump your real life into your education and kill two birds with one stone.
Typically in a low residency art program you are assigned one mentor/advisor at a time. If you get along, that’s great. If not, you’re stuck.
If you want to take classes, it’s up to you to locate them. You also have to foot the bill on top of the tuition from your degree granting institution.
Some low residency programs have a good network in place but all too often you end up only meeting a small group (5-50 people) while the rest of the students are only available through social media. At a college or university you tend to meet more folks and expand your circle beyond the small group of people in your immediate cohort.
The low residency model is gaining in popularity but sadly it still has a reputation for being a way to purchase your MFA without doing any work.
When you’re done, the cost of a low residency degree can be equal to or more expensive than if you lived on campus and went through a more traditional program.