I arrived Thursday to clear skies and lots of snow on the ground, lows at 0 - 3 degrees F. I was engaging a Canadian colleague from Toronto in some political talk about the residency on the shuttle bus to Montpelier, as our assigned readings of Hito Stereyl are quite liberal and feminist. I mentioned that VT is quite a liberal state, considering Bernie Sanders is from here. It turned out that the shuttle bus driver was a Trump supporter! I attempted to explain some of the challenges we face as MDs regarding dealings with corporations, like the large labs we can't compete with and with insurance companies, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
When Friday comes around I start meeting more of our group of 11 first semester MFA students. They come from all over the US (WA, NH/VT, KY, NY, CO via Trinidad, MA, NM, CA, VA) and one from Canada. Quite a few of them are older students like me. We seem to be a very cohesive group from the outset.
I took a hot yoga class mid-day on Friday because our first orientation did not happen until Friday afternoon. It was amazing to be in a room at 95 degrees F and see the snow on the lawn outside. Fortunately, the campus is so small that you never get very cold between buildings.
We met with the program director, Danielle, and the two faculty co-chairs, both lovely bearded men, the sound artist and fair housing activist, Mr. Dont Rhine, and the art scholar, Mr. Luis Jacob. They explained that it is better to have a home-based learning program where we only come together for reviews twice a year. That way, we will not have to abandon our local contacts and resources when we leave the program. They also emphasized the student-based learning approach. We will be directing our own graduate studies--reading, writing, and studio practice based on our interests. Based on some of the discussions, I had forgotten how intense the vocabulary of art is....I will have to work hard to master the reading and writing. For example, a 4th semester returning student who has CML creates beautiful installation art of artificial "organs" in glass containers connected by tubing. Her readings for this semester included books and essays on embodiment, abjection, excess, domesticity, global feminism, blood and bioethics. That discussion was led by none other than the feminist artist, Ms. Faith Wilding, who was part of the original Woman House at CAL Arts.
Welcome to VCFA!