• Ellen

Getting my MFA, Part II: This is a Labyrinth

Hello, world.

This is a brief recap of my first semester of my Master of Fine Arts program. Fall semester starts *tomorrow* so I wanted to record some thoughts now while they are fresh-ish™️.

This summer, I spent a month in Pennsylvania at Wilson College (I'll share more about how and why I chose Wilson in the future) in the MFA Summer Intensive. That's 6 graduate classes in one month...hence the term, "intensive." I slept less and read, wrote, and created/absorbed more art than any single month ever before in the history of my months. Overall, it was a fantastic experience as a student and an artist. I attribute the fantasticness™️ to a few factors: 1. The people: My cohort and colleagues are incredible, inspiring, talented, hardworking. I enjoyed learning with and from this group of professional artists and I am super excited to continue working with them over the next couple years. The faculty also made a supportive and encouraging environment where I felt safe and free to create.

2. Being there: I won't say "post-covid" because covid is very much still raging, but getting to create with people for the first time since the pandemic started was a profound experience and added a layer of meaning and appreciation that was very specific to this summer. So many beautiful moments were possible, including this improvisation which became one of my favorite somatic exercises:



3. A promise: I was not sure what to expect from the intensive, but I set out telling myself I would get the most from this experience as possible. That meant being present, trying new things, exploring, experimenting, trusting the creative process, not judging my work too harshly, being in a state of allowance and acceptance, being silly, etc. Here I am trying to stay awake while using my dorm room floor as my studio (despite having an actual nice studio space to work in) as the intensive neared the finale:




Question time! A couple friends have asked what the most unexpected part of the intensive was. For me, the amount of DANCING and movement-based creativity was the most unexpected (and magical!) part. I expected there to be a heavy focus on movement because I knew that the majority of my cohort are Choreography majors. But as a Visual Art & Creative Writing major, I didn't know just how much I would be participating in movement-based practices. And I am HERE FOR IT! I can tell that dance, movement, and this particular community of artists have already started to expand my creative process. I was not surprised that I enjoyed dancing - movement has always been a vital part of my life - but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how it quickly informed my own art. I was also surprised by how much emphasis there was on collaboration. Below is a link to one of the projects I created this summer that highlights both movement and collaboration. This is my first ever dance film and it is more of a sketch of a larger idea than a finished piece.


Thanks to my friends / colleagues / classmates / muses / heroes who offered their time, enthusiasm, and creative forces by performing for this project: Da'Shown Rawl, William Clayton, Katie Pustizzi, Jessica Thomas, and Zackery Betty. Thank you to everyone else who genuinely wanted to participate but, due to my general tendency to procrastinate and our very packed schedules, were unable to.


I can't wait to see what's ahead and what I'll make in the Fall semester...


Thanks for reading. All my love through the wind and wires, into outer space, and back to your beautiful beating heart,

E

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