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A Guide to the Low Residency Art MFA by David Vanadia, MFA

MFA-IA G2 Semester Tips

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Information for students in the MFA-IA program at Goddard College.

Choose Wisely

Carefully pick your advisor. Usually you have to pick before the semester starts and then you find out who you got during residency. If you’re unsure of who to choose, pick an advisor whose work is most similar to yours. If you got along with an advisor in conversation last residency, chose them. If someone rubbed you the wrong way (or you annoyed them) then avoid that person. Working with tension will not nurture or enrich you.

Get Into It

Do your thing. Take something you learned or were interested in from last semester and put it into action. Keep in mind that students can actually do a practicum in their second semester. Goddard doesn’t advertise this but it is possible. If you have a project (internship, social or community situation) that fits into the practicum model, use it. Make sure your advisor approves, of course.

Plan for the Practicum

If you have no idea what you’re going to do for your practicum then wait for your G3 to deal with it. However, keep it in mind as you work through your G2. The G3 semester is usually all about the practicum. Sometimes whatever you do in your G2 opens the doors for a cool project.

Lay Low

From my observation, the people who graduate with most ease are the ones who don’t rock the boat. If you rock the boat, be prepared to get wet—and possibly even sink.

Keep Your Chin Up

Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Consider how fast it was from the last residency ‘til this one. It just goes faster and faster. Next thing you know you’re done. Remember your big picture plan and review your overall learning plan to see where you’re at.

Take Advantage

Have you been using the Goddard library? Did you know that you have access to all kinds of databases, academic journals, and an amazing amount of research? Sit in on the library presentation again in each residency and you’ll discover something you didn’t hear when your mind was overwhelmed during your G1 residency.

Continue to Keep Track

Cite everything. Record, report, review, and document. If you haven’t figured out a system for keeping organized, speak with your advisors and classmates. Being pragmatic will make everything easier. Remember to include all of your goals in your learning plan. Shoot for the stars and if you only make it half way then so be it.

Don’t Worry

Your G1 semester was possibly consumed with fears and concerns about if you’re “doing it right.” Hopefully you see that you decide what is right or not. The trick to keeping within the boundaries of what Goddard considers acceptable is to make sure everything you do is approved by your advisor and documented by you. This is VERY important.

Validate

It’s okay to ask your advisor to mention specific elements of your semester’s work in their final evaluation. The reports that they write become instrumental in your final narrative transcript. So, if you did some interesting art in G2 that resulted from the research you did in your G1, ask your advisor to mention it specifically. This way your G5 advisor can see what was important when they have to write your final evaluation.


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