The Studio of Eric Valosin

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Jack of all Trades, but a Master of... ONE, now!

It's been quite a ride, ladies and gentlemen of cyberspace, but it's official: I have mastered the Fine Arts, according to Montclair State University! I'm still quite curious about the "privileges, rights, duties and immunities thereunto appertaining" that the president of the university mentioned upon conferment... What am I immune from? Can I be immune from sleep deprivation? Or maybe technological glitches? Hopefully it's something good. All that's left now is the thesis show (shameless plug) on June 6th at Magnan Metz Gallery. I think that counts under privileges. Or maybe duties...

But get ready for a proud, sappy, and nostalgic post. I think I've earned it.

5 of the 11 MFA grads with our fearless leader, Andrew Atkinson, director of the program

I look back at my first post in November of 2011 and am reminded of just how radically I've grown as a result of this grueling program. From having absolutely no idea what I'm doing merging theology and art, resigning myself to the meagre and misguided goal of making "Christian art that doesn't make you want to throw up," (as my artist statement actually used to say) it's hard to believe that I've now published a book on the topic (...of christianity and art, not the topic of throwing up). Through many anxious days and nights, I've come to a thesis that has begun a relevant and successful investigation of spiritual experience through art, surprisingly aligned with the course set out in a very telling early post.

These last two years have been the most difficult years of my life, without question. A 60 credit program, a studio practice, 20 hours a week working at Trader Joe's, 13 hours of commuting each week, not to mention a family... at one point, out of curiosity I kept a record of hours worked, and on that occasion found that I had worked 108 hours that week. But I can't help but swell a bit when I think about the cool things I've done in those two years.

I've had the opportunity to cross of more than a couple bucket list items, thanks to this program.
Some highlights:

  • In the last 2 years I've had artwork in 20 shows and counting, including showing in Chelsea, and in Wales (Prior to grad school I had never shown my work in a gallery other than school related shows.)
  • Published a book on Art and Spirituality (my monograph, Unknowing the Unknowable: Visual Apophasis and the Techno-Sublime)
  • Studied philosophy to the extent that I can now confuse people with what seems to me to be a perfectly logical sentence... (and hold my own interviewing a philosopher)
  • Gained a working knowledge of HTML and Javascript, as well as Final Cut Express, Max/MSP/Jitter, and a much higher competency in Photoshop and InDesign
  • Started a website and a blog (surprise!)
  • Went from critique sheets that say "high school surrealism" to ones that say "other students take note: this is how you make art and this is how you handle a critique."
  • Built a fantastic network of amazing artists, curators, and thinkers, as well as friendships I will probably keep forever
And outside of the MFA:
  • Lined up opportunities to teach at the Collective Art Tank in Asbury Park, as well as with Gravity, Inc. for which I am now the Coordinator of Fine Art Initiatives, doing community revitalization through the arts and innovation
  • Sung at Carnegie Hall (for the second time, believe it or not!)
  • Was asked by to do two design projects for Trader Joe's corporate office (big potatoes for us local store artists) and to head up mural design for the expansion of our store
  • Preached a guest sermon about worship and the arts
Not to mention:
  • maintained a marriage
  • oh, by the way, had a baby!
I owe an incomprehensible amount to Iain Kerr's tenacity and support in studio visit after studio visit of unloading his brilliance on me and never giving up belief that I could eventually make something of it for myself. And to Andrew Atkinson, the director, for his dedication to us and the program. The summer research class the two of them led was very much the turning point in my practice, teaching me what art really is.

I'd like to say the time flew by, but really it seems like a lifetime. Hard to remember time before MSU. But I have that program to thank for taking a kid who made art and turning him into an artist. I wouldn't give these last two years away for anything. ...Just please don't ever make me do them again!

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