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#1 wayver138

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

Hi everyone,

Two months ago I decided to take a pottery class at a local studio after finishing an A.A. Media Studies. The school I am currently at didn't offer a B.A. in media studies so I decided to take some random classes that I found interesting in order to decide what degree I wanted to pursue. Long story short, the class at the local studio has caused me to fall in love with clay and now I am seriously considering getting a B.F.A. in ceramics. So...here comes the questions.

I have put in a lot of research in terms of schools and I have learned what the best ones for a MFA are (Alfred, Montana, etc.) but what about for a BFA?
I live in north Georgia, so UGA was obviously my first option. However, attending UGA would really set me back as it is stated, even if transferring, the program would take the upwards of 3 to 4 years to complete due to prerequisites and the like. Because I already have 2 1/2 years of college under my belt, dedicating another 4 to just a bachelors seems like a bit much.

Also, I would love to go out of state, but money is certainly key. I have found a few schools with great out of state merit scholarships that I am eligible for but I am just not sure of the quality of the ceramics program, or how to figure that out.
Lastly, is it an option to continue a BA in my current discipline, continue learning ceramics on the side and potentially apply to a MFA program when I am ready? I will be taking 2 courses (wheelthrowing and handbuilding) at my current school this semester along with a glaze formulation class at the studio. I am very eager to learn but very unsure of the direction to go.

I apologize for my scattered thoughts but just wanted to include everything. Any suggestions for schools or advice of any kind would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Amanda

#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:30 PM

Dear Amanda,

I looked at a Colleges in Georgia offering the BFA in Ceramics. I included their links to curriculum requirements. I don't know what you have already taken, what would transfer and what would not. Maybe you could talk to an academic advisor who could help you. Academics have a wide variety of agreements between institutions, so you are better off to consult with someone familiar with the colleges you are considering as well as the one you may be leaving. I have advised a lot of Art majors as a former Art Department Chairperson. For the core curriculum as well as the major concentration, curricula is designed to build on acquired skills from the previous semester and the order is sequential. So when you transfer , it is unlikely that you could only take ceramics courses. Freshmen Core Curriculum is usually 2-D, 3-D and Drawing plus Intro to Art History Survey I and II. In some cases you have to be accepted into a major area of concentration or into the BFA program. You mentioned getting a BA and then maybe an MFA. You should decide what your ultimate goals are if you chose this route. This is usually with the ultimate goal of College level teaching. You should consider that this field has very limited opportunities. So give it some thought and talk to an academic advisor about what will transfer and talk to an advisor at your selected University to see what they will accept.

GSU http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwart/9269.html
West Georgia http://www.westga.ed...12%20Sheet1.pdf Southwest Georgia http://gsw.edu/Asset...YEAR%20PLAN.pdf

Marcia

#3 Stephen Robison

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 06:07 PM

There are certain agreements between community colleges and universities. However in my experience working with transfer students from CC they almost always need at least three years to get their BFA. Usually they can get their BA without that extra year. But starting out in a CC is not always a good idea for certain degrees. This is relative to the CC and what kind of focus they may have in their art department or even if they have an art department. The fact is that it takes a good four years, (or more), of focus on any given media to create a decent enough portfolio for graduate school application. What I have found when a student tries to fast tract their education is that they are not competitive enough with their technical skills or their conceptual development, and they usually are not ready for graduate application. So if your main goal is to get an MFA in ceramics I would not try and rush it. No offense to CC but sometimes the course work is not quite as rigorous as it may be at a University, again some have great clay programs. Some students can create a focus that is a 15-20 hour a week work ethic outside of class, are decent at research and create their own visual voice a little quicker than most, but those students are rare now a days. Quite frankly the work ethic or lack of one in this present generation of students is lower than I have ever seen.

The certain degree requirements of most BFA programs consists of those core classes as Marcia discussed and then there is the timeline of the BFA review. This again is why I said, it is usually possible to get the BA degree in that total of 4 years. But I still think students need that last year of serious focus to develop and mature.

Other options are to think about finishing your BA in a timely manner and becoming an apprentice to a potter, (if pottery is the direction you are interested in), or making application to a Post Baccalaureate program or a portfolio development program. Again this is relative to the development of your work and your ability to create a body of work that would be competitive in application to an MFA program. Since you said you just took a pottery class two months ago I am assuming you are pretty fresh at ceramics and would need that extra time to develop. Great luck with your endeavors and I hope the wind is at your back.
STEPHEN ROBISON
Head of Ceramics, Central Washington University
Ellensburg WA

http://stiffyguss.blogspot.com/
http://liquidceramics.blogspot.com/
http://teapotspitchers.blogspot.com/
http://woodkilns.blogspot.com/
http://jomonhaniwa.blogspot.com/
http://stephensrobison.blogspot.com/
http://www.flickr.co...ffpottery/sets/

CWU offers; BA, BFA, and MFA Degrees, (Post Baccalaureate also available). Images of CWU Ceramics studio can be seen at

http://www.flickr.co...57623735313670/

#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 06:20 PM

Good points , Stephen.
I think Amanda should consider if she really wants the financial burden of an MFA or what her real goals are. Does she want to be in her own studio as a professional potter? Does she want to teach? BFA programs were meant to be professional training. This should include setting up business skills and marketing strategies, but that is not always the case. Apprenticing is a good option. Attending workshops is another option. Becoming a tech assistant in good programs are other options. Art centers like Haystack, Penland, Anderson Ranch, Watershed, etc. will take workers at low pay and give them shop privileges although sometimes this can be a less than advantageous situation for the worker if there really isn't any free time to use the facilities. Potters will also take apprentices when their skills are good enough to produce what is assigned. So there are lots of ways to continue working and learning ceramics other than formal and expensive University track situations. She could support herself through a job with her media skills while learning at workshops or going to community studios when she could find time. Michael Cardew said it takes seven years to master skills in ceramics..and that was working at it on a regular basis. So there is no way to really rush it.

Marcia

#5 wayver138

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 07:35 PM

I appreciate the quick responses! I should clarify that an ultimate goal of mine would be to teach college level but my concern is certainly the job outlook. I do realize it is not a "go to class and leave" sort of program and that a lot of work must be put into it, inside and outside of class. I have only scratched the surface of pottery which is what excites me the most. I have had a lot of trouble with college in the terms of deciding what area of study I want to pursue and honestly have forced myself into majors that I have not been passionate about. However, since accidentally running into pottery I have found that it is really something I would like to pursue. Fortunately, time is on my side (I'm 19 years old) so the program length is not the biggest issue. I would love to eventually be skilled enough to teach not only college level but also workshops or classes at a studio. I would just like to know if a career can be made since it is such a limited field and what is the best way to reach these goals besides practice and dedication, of course. =)

Again, I appreciate the help!

Amanda

#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:17 PM

While some of the top schools are great, it is likely the instructors you'll encounter will either be from those schools or just as knowledgeable. A degree from those schools may give you an advantage in getting hired, but your portfolio, demeanor and passion plus recommendations will make or break the deal.
So good luck with your future. No one can say what the job market will be like in another 10 years or so. Be aware that some schools have closed ceramics programs due to expense.
I would recommend broadening your experience by looking into Studies Abroad like a semester in China (SE Ga. offers that as well as W. Va. and probably more.
Canberra in Australia has a great program. If you can volunteer at an NCECA conference (Houston 2013, Milwaukee 2014) , try to go to the international presentations for programs and centers. Really look around.

Marcia

#7 SEWSart

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:14 PM

Hi Amanda,

As someone who is fresh out of a BFA program in ceramics from Iowa State University (2008) I can attest to how hard it is to find jobs right after graduating. I do not want to discourage you because ceramics is one of the best things in my life, but most of the jobs I found were temporary positions (often with specific requirements like having residency in a certain state), required an MFA, or did not pay enough to cover living expenses (we're talking less than 30k for a single person). Plus most of the jobs I applied for already had way more applicants than positions, so being fresh out of school just wasn't enough to cut it.

I broke down and started temping just to have any income what so ever (those student loan payments were coming due)!

So here I am a few years later and I'm still working full time in an accounting department; however, I have continued to slowly accumulate supplies and a body of work with the help of some local friends that I cooped with to have access to kilns. I have my own Soldner wheel, a nice pop up 10'x10' tent, and I am planning on applying to a few craft fairs for this next year. Yes, I may be moving slowly, but at least I'm doing something.

Plus, even though my degree is not in accounting, the art degree has been a huge asset to have because studying art makes your brain think differently. You train to use your entire brain and can visualize the whole picture and still see the details of any situation. I can't tell you how many times I've seen connections and improvements we can make when my coworkers have just been stuck in the "this is the way it's always been" mode.

No matter what, I will still continue to explore and produce ceramic art, but just so you know I will never regret getting my degree even though I didn't "make it" right away. So go for it if that is really what you want to pursue, because you may never be able to afford another time to so fully immerse yourself in the medium as you do in undergrad and graduate degrees. Plus the skills you come out with are able to be applied to way more avenues than just the arts.

All the best,

Shannon EW Schanus

#8 wayver138

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 09:45 AM

I appreciate all the advice, it has been very insightful! Now, I have been sifting through schools, trying to find ones that offer study abroad programs which has proven slightly difficult. I would really like to go out-of-state as I have been in college for nearly 3 years now and have yet to have that "going off to college" experience. It sounds lame, I know, but I think branching out and being in new surroundings would really benefit me. I will be taking two ceramics classes at my current school this semester, as it is too early to apply anywhere and I need far more time to plan, so I would be looking into a Fall 2013 entry. I know those classes will likely not transfer since schools prefer all studios to be taken directly within the program, at least from what I have gathered, but the professor is very involved with the ceramics community here and I would love to have the chance to learn from her. In addition, I am also taking a transferable class like drawing 1 or art history. I also plan to take another class at the studio, so this semester I will not be idle but will take it slow and just allow myself to learn and become more familiarized.

I have also been looking into the conference and hope to attend/volunteer, I think it would be extremely eye opening for me!

As far as schools go, are there any that I definitely need to inquire about? I certainly don't want to miss any option but tuition obviously plays a large factor. As I stated I should/hope to qualify for a merit scholarship so that will hopefully take the edge off. I am very unsure about which schools offer better programs, besides the ones that seem to focus on the graduate level (many of which I would like to keep open for when MFA time comes).


Thank you for all of the advice so far!
Amanda

#9 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:24 AM

I appreciate all the advice, it has been very insightful! Now, I have been sifting through schools, trying to find ones that offer study abroad programs which has proven slightly difficult. I would really like to go out-of-state as I have been in college for nearly 3 years now and have yet to have that "going off to college" experience. It sounds lame, I know, but I think branching out and being in new surroundings would really benefit me. I will be taking two ceramics classes at my current school this semester, as it is too early to apply anywhere and I need far more time to plan, so I would be looking into a Fall 2013 entry. I know those classes will likely not transfer since schools prefer all studios to be taken directly within the program, at least from what I have gathered, but the professor is very involved with the ceramics community here and I would love to have the chance to learn from her. In addition, I am also taking a transferable class like drawing 1 or art history. I also plan to take another class at the studio, so this semester I will not be idle but will take it slow and just allow myself to learn and become more familiarized.

I have also been looking into the conference and hope to attend/volunteer, I think it would be extremely eye opening for me!

As far as schools go, are there any that I definitely need to inquire about? I certainly don't want to miss any option but tuition obviously plays a large factor. As I stated I should/hope to qualify for a merit scholarship so that will hopefully take the edge off. I am very unsure about which schools offer better programs, besides the ones that seem to focus on the graduate level (many of which I would like to keep open for when MFA time comes).


Thank you for all of the advice so far!
Amanda

The best programs would be those that fit what you are after. The reputation is second. Find what you need first.
Marcia



#10 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 11:31 AM

Dear Amanda,
I saw a great Study Abroad from East North Carolina. The students live and work in the medieval town of Certaldo Alto.
It was a wonderful program and had a good tuition program for out-of-state.
http://www.lindadart...y-abroad-italy/

http://www.aacupi.or...astcarolina.htm

Marcia

#11 wayver138

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:45 PM

Thanks Marcia! I will check it out. I haven't ruled out UGA entirely, I am just very familiar and in the area a lot so something different/new sounded nice. However, the program really seems to have everything I am wanting, making it very hard to not consider it. The study abroad program in Cortona looks wonderful as well!

#12 Alden Bruce

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:39 PM

I'm currently an undergrad at Tennessee Tech University's Appalachian Center for Craft. It's a wonderful ceramics facility. Lots of studio space, a very knowledgeable faculty, and not too shabby living quarters. The location is beautiful, engulfed by nature and wildlife. We have about a dozen kilns. 5 electric kilns, three neutral atmosphere gas kilns, a salt kiln, a soda kiln, an anagama, and a new canterbury arch wood kiln I helped build last summer. Here's a url to my professor's (Vince Pitelka) website wwith more info

http://iweb.tntech.edu/wpitelka/

#13 wayver138

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:44 PM

Hey all,

I have been rigorously researching colleges and narrowing down my interests based on faculty/student work as well as costs. However, I would like some insight on what is looked for/expected out of a BFA portfolio. I have read a lot about the expectations of grad students but what about those of us who are aspiring and developing a style? What mistakes are made in this portfolio process? What sets a portfolio apart? I know many schools require work from the foundation courses, which I am not too particularly worried about, but some also require the main body of work to be of the area of emphasis. Also, what is looked for in a scholarship candidate? I am eligible for several academic based scholarships but would like to look into art ones as well. I just hope I am not in over my head! Just to add, I would be a transfer and not entering freshman.

This forum and all of you have been as tremendous help to me! Thank you in advance for any advice,

Amanda

#14 justanassembler

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 07:58 PM

Hey all,

I have been rigorously researching colleges and narrowing down my interests based on faculty/student work as well as costs. However, I would like some insight on what is looked for/expected out of a BFA portfolio. I have read a lot about the expectations of grad students but what about those of us who are aspiring and developing a style? What mistakes are made in this portfolio process? What sets a portfolio apart? I know many schools require work from the foundation courses, which I am not too particularly worried about, but some also require the main body of work to be of the area of emphasis. Also, what is looked for in a scholarship candidate? I am eligible for several academic based scholarships but would like to look into art ones as well. I just hope I am not in over my head! Just to add, I would be a transfer and not entering freshman.

This forum and all of you have been as tremendous help to me! Thank you in advance for any advice,

Amanda


These are excellent questions whose answers will vary depending on where you are applying--to get the answers you need, talk to admissions folks at the schools that interest you. If they cant satisfy you, schedule a visit and meet with the professors who make up the review committees. In general BFA portfolio reviews are much less rigorous, and appear (to me) to be mostly about determining that someone has sufficient interest. Additionally, many state schools with art programs have portfolio reviews that even if you fail you have two or three more chances once attending (and taking classes!) to "re-apply". Again, I can't stress enough that from school to school (and perhaps year to year) this will differ.




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