Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's possible, Part 2

While I’m on the subject of defying the naysayers (see last blog entry), here’s another experience that I hope you find inspiring.

At age 32, I had a dream of earning a master of fine arts degree in painting. I spent three full-time post-baccalaureate semesters at the Massachusetts College of Art to prepare a portfolio of works to include in my graduate school application. I worked hard in my studio, knowing that I was racing against time. I had saved enough money to live on for three semesters. Once that time was up, if I wasn’t accepted to graduate school, I would have to return to my former job of full-time office work.

After three semesters, at the college’s end-of-semester critique, the department chair looked at my portfolio (examples above) and told me I would NEVER get in to graduate school with this work.

His negative comment struck me like a blow to the gut. Even though he didn’t know me from Adam, he sounded so sure in his pronouncement that I would fail. I felt my dream had been demolished.

Trying to recover myself, I asked him to tell me what specifically about these paintings was lacking. He was unable or unwilling to articulate further.

However, I DID apply to graduate school. Although my confidence was deeply shaken, I figured I might as well as least TRY. It was either that or go back to answering telephones and taking shorthand.

As it turned out, I WAS accepted, and two years later, I graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a master’s degree in fine art (with a grade point average of 3.88).

Last year, I was accepted into a juried show in Lowell, Mass., and my entry was hung alongside a painting by the department chair from Mass. Art. I thought that was an interesting postscript to this story!

Never, I repeat, NEVER, let someone tell you that you can’t do something.


Anonymous said...

Many similarly negative things were said to me when I was an art student to stop me from advancing. There are a lot of insecure and competitive people in the world, and unfortunately many of them are art teachers. It's great that you can be a teacher who doesn't hurt vulnerable people. Thank you for telling your story.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you for your supportive comment, Laraine. I wonder if these spirit-squishing educators go home to their gardens and tend them by stepping on the new blooms as they come up out of the ground! It's about as effective in the garden as it is in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Hey Catherine,
you are so positive, I love it. Great story.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you, Joanne, I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed reading it.