Thursday, September 11, 2008

Income earning or higher learning?

I suppose that was the question we asked ourselves about this time last year when we first started to put together grad school applications. 

It seems like a lifetime ago, recalling the process we went through, first to research the various programs, then to narrow down the list of schools to apply to, contacting references, writing a letter of intent, pulling together a portfolio and so on....

And here we are. The question still hangs in the air why leave a fully functioning studio set-up that took several years and a great deal of resources to pull together, to enroll in an MFA program that will hurdle us further into debt and farther away from our home sweet home?

There is no doubt in my mind that we made the right decision. And here's why:

As an undergraduate coming out of a BFA program in ceramics, Robin found himself at a crossroads in his career. He had the choice to either pool his resources and commit to setting up a studio of his own or take those resources and invest in another 2-3 years of education. After a lengthy journeyman period of school, apprenticeships, travel and residencies, Robin was ready to build and fire his own kiln. Which brought us of course to the Slocan Valley where we set up shop and started our pottery business and little family. 

We spent three years building the pottery up and like any other small business owner would attest, it takes time to establish oneself to the point of having a stable income, but the reward was that Robin was in control of everything and he got to do what he loved most, make pots. This last year in particular seemed a culmination our efforts over the past few, we took on more consignment galleries in Toronto and Edmonton, exhibited and made the most in sales than we ever had. It felt like we were certainly building on a good thing.

The question whether to pursue a graduate degree remained a dominant one in our minds, particularly for Robin it was likely more a matter of when not if.  The timing of our decision last fall to apply for Fall 08 entry seemed opportune somehow. For several reasons it made sense; the kids being young and easily relocatable, my maternity leave and the winds of change occurring in my career, the opportunity for me to stay home with them and a shift in Robin's studio practise questioning what direction he wanted to take his work in.  

So off to Graduate school we went.

Of course it will be expensive; the tuition costs, the moving and related relocation costs, living expenses over a two to three year period. Not to mention the negative income that we'll experience while in school. The encouraging part is that USU lends a helping hand with a hefty tuition break, and paid assistantships that will help to offset the costs. 

And truly, this experience is an investment. Graduate school will expose Robin to a higher level of discourse and thought about art, it'll give him time to concentrate on his own work, he'll meet and connect with people that will hopefully open a lifetime's worth of doors and it'll give him the opportunity to teach at the post secondary level. 

How could it not have been the right decision. Don't let me fool you. There will be days when I wake up wondering what the heck we are doing here. Today was one of those days. I'll just have to read this blog entry over when those mornings blindside me. Perhaps that is why I chose to write about such a topic as this on such a day as today. Over and out. 

1 comment:

Schmoo and Beans Mom said...

Deep thoughts today, hey? It will all be worth it. Just come home lots to visit.