Beth Meadows

The Search: New York and Art School

"art", "painting", "school", "studio", "travel"B2 Comments

I'm currently in New York City, arrived Wednesday morning and leaving bright and early Monday. I'm here with my friend Amanda, staying with Luke and Jess, friends who just moved here a couple of months ago, living the dream in Manhattan.

Beautiful Amanda

The first time I visited New York was by way of an RV with six other people. We stayed at an RV park in Jersey City. Great view of the Statue of Liberty from across the river and the most perfect spot to be murdered in a dimly lit bathroom late at night.

Together we spent 12 hours on Times Square on December 31, 2007. It was the worst, but we came, and we conquered.

The second time, I came with my friend Amelia. We did a lot of touristy things, visited friends, and ate a lot of good food.

This is my third trip and nothing like the first two.

Pratt gym

I'm here with a different perspective, taking in everything without the use of a hand held map or asking too many people for directions. I read on the subway. I eat delicious meals by myself and sink deep in thought and daydreams. I meet Amanda for an $8 afternoon beer to talk about our day. Later, we meet Jess and Luke for dinner at a restaurant they've discovered and want to share with us.

It's about time for that beer, but first...

Bobcat in Luke and Jess's bedroom on the Upper West Side

This trip is different because I'm trying to figure out if I could live here.

"Why?!?" my 23-25ish-year-old-self asks.

I never thought back then I'd be doing this, but I'm looking at art schools here. I've always thought about grad school, but never pursued it. I'm grateful this process has begun, to begin to figure out if this is for me.

It was a great decision to come here with all my questions. I've been given a wealth of information over the past three days by students, professors, advisers, and department heads of some of the top art schools in the country and world. I've moseyed through pristine, glittery buildings and crummy, gigantic, wonderful studios. I've seen woodshops, printshops, computer labs, darkrooms, and in-house galleries.

Common threads run throughout each school's spiel. Each wants to see a cohesive body of work from their applicants. They want students who are ready, mostly somewhere in between recent undergrad and a professional artist (this is me). They want to see great images of their best work. It's good to see work that spans across different mediums as long as it isn't too scattered.

They tell you how much you are going to work, how tight-knit the students become, how students dabble in their own curating, converting any space they can into galleries. They all speak of studio visits by established artists, curators, galleries, and how important those meetings are over time.

Most of the people I've spoken with graduated from an MFA program in New York. Some are honest, telling me they haven't painted in years. Some said they realized a long time ago they'd never make it as an artist, but are content working in an art-related field.

I've been given me a lot to think about.

The words that have resonated the most with me go something like this: It doesn't matter how fancy a school is or how much guidance is given. Once you are inside their walls, it's all about what you can do. Art school can't make a person an artist. You either have it or you don't.

My appointments are finished, so tonight and this weekend should be fun, relaxed, and inspiring. When Monday rolls around, I'll be ready to come back home, anxious to pick up with everything that needs to be done, and by that, I mean, I am dying to paint.