Be forewarned.  I’m in a very frustrated and cynical mood today.  With my  graduate review coming up, I’m forced to “refine” my concept so that I can defend my work.  7 faculty members gather together and pick apart everything I have to show them, starting from my ideas to my process.  Desperate to find passion and inspiration in each thing I research, each time, I am left more confused than before.  It feels like a big waste of my time reading book after book that doesn’t feel connected to what I am doing.  The only common element is the use of my family photos, which is the only thing I feel passionate about.  I am interested in many things, but to be a graduate student, means to pick ONE thing and ANALYZE it to death until it isn’t fun any more.  At least that is my view point at the moment.  Sure, maybe this is supposed to be good for my professional career as an artist.  But at the moment, I only feel like the fun has been sucked out of everything I do creatively.  It is not good enough anymore to create artwork because you love doing it.  Don’t be surprised if I abandon my family photos all together and start making home accessories for my thesis.  One of my professors recently asked me what I’d be doing if I wasn’t working with my family photographs.  Well, I’d be making the shower curtain that I’ve had in my head since I started renovating the bathroom 2 years ago.  (Yes, I’m still brushing my teeth in the kitchen!)  I would be sewing curtains for my kitchen door window that is not painted yet.  I would finish renovating my house.

I envy my fellow graduate students who get to go through the program at a normal pace.  I work full time and can only take one class at a time.  They take several classes at once and take these giant leaps in their work because one class feeds off another, and in many cases, all they have to worry about is being in school and doing their homework for class.  My progression is slow and more linear.  Because I work full time, I can only focus on the one class.  Because of the classes I have to take, I have gone 6 months without even entering my studio because I’m too busy writing a paper or doing research on other artists.   Why can’t I create while taking a lecture class?  Because I have to eat, sleep, do laundry, and spend time with my significant other.  I’ve already sacrificed friendships and social time to be in graduate school.  It takes 4 and half years to finish the program one class at a time, and you pretty much have to drop everything if you take school seriously, which I do.  I give it everything I’ve got.  It is sucking the life out of me.  I have reached official burnout.



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7 responses to “Concept?

  1. I have been there, and I remember how totally exhausting it was. On the upside, when I finished, I felt like I got so much more out of it than everyone else and you will too. Why not make the shower curtain? It might be the mental break you need to reenergize for your graduate work!

  2. karinrebekah

    oh Anna, I feel your pain! I think I said something very similar only a few months ago. . . something along the lines of “all the fun is sucked out of it”. But don’t give up! the end is very near! and as crappy as it feels, I am quite sure that “burnout” is an official step in the 12-step program that is grad school. . . and rather near the end, too, like #10.

  3. Thanks for all your comments regarding my frustration. I am feeling a little more hopeful today. It’s nice to know that others have struggled as I am now, and that there is some good stuff on its way!

  4. jumpstitch

    I agree with Heidi…make the shower curtain (after the end of the quarter)! It will re-inform you as a maker. It is also a finite project. You do it…it’s done….it works (or doesn’t)….It has a beginning and an end and you know what it is.

    Sometimes while working on all this “unknown” it helps to do something that you can recognize… you know when it is done, you can say that it is good, and feel proud. I find that often when I am working on something tangible, the intangible becomes clear. One of life’s perfect little mysteries…solved!

    Give yourself

  5. Checking in! I’m feeling inspired again. I will post more details tonight as I get ready for my review on Friday. Below is a wonderful comment from Marty McClure, she/he put their comment on my ABOUT page and I wanted to be sure to keep this comment, for future reference where I can find it. It’s a good one! Thanks everybody for your support!

    If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you always got. The same old, same old ideas over and over again. The future belongs to those thinkers who embrace change, break new ground, forge new paths, and transform the way they think. Discover how to look at the same information as everyone else and see something different by using the creative thinking techniques and strategies that creative geniuses have used throughout history.
    Internationally acclaimed creativity expert Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques have inspired business thinkers around the world to create the innovative ideas and creative strategies they need to achieve unimaginable success in today’s changing business environment of complexity and uncertainty. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

    [Available at, Barnes & Noble, and most major bookstores. Visit for more detailed information.]”

  6. Make your shower curtain! Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is thinking on the more common things. After you made your curtain, you will see all of a different way. And in the future this books you’re reading now were be very helpfull.
    Your work is so beautiful, don’t give up!

  7. This is tough. I hope your break and working on the house will smooth out your feelings.

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