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.