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Grad School? Or No Grad School?

As I sit and ponder my life and where I want to "be" in my future, I first take a quick glance at the past. I remember graduating high school with a sense of relief and also a modicum of dread. I will confess here that while I was a great academic student, I often moaned about the book aspect of learning. As an artist it was much more pleasurable to create works of art than it was to read about creating works of art, or any other subject matter. So, understanding that college would be far more intensive than high school.... I had a small nagging doubt about going to college.

I will add here the fact that while I did graduate with a BA in Studio Art, I also dropped out of my first college. It was not until I turned 35 that I actually went back.

So.... with this fact in mind, I find myself at 59 and 1/2 years old getting excited about the possibility of going to graduate school and getting an MFA in Ceramics.

Why now? You may ask, ( and maybe you won't ask), simply because it's time. I suddenly have had my eyes opened to the understanding that a thesis paper no longer intimidates me, and that studying is just par for the course.( pun intended). I have also realized that difficult does not equate to impossible, that knowledge is power and I need it to fuel my future possibilities.

I have had only 1 official college course in ceramics. ( I graduated from an alternative college and received nearly 3/4 of my credits by evaluation). This one class was followed up by 2 community classes. The rest I taught myself.

My career has included selling retail and wholesale at major craft shows like ACC to local high school and community shows. I even produced a successful craft show locally for about 6 years before passing the baton.I have taught classes as well as owned my own studio and gallery where we taught pottery and sold fine craft. I have won awards and I have had work published in trade magazines ( BeadWork & Bead & Button).And yet I seem to be able to only get so far.

So why grad school? And why now?

Simply put, things change. The reasons vary and in some ways they are just the catalyst that propels us to where we need to be to fulfill our greater good.I hear the call to come up higher. I have been given a choice. I can close the door and continue out my life as is.After all it's a good life. But I am choosing to answer yes and embrace all the joy and difficulties that it may entail. You see, I want what is on the other end and it requires that I pay a price to get there.I may have to say no to other things for a temporary time, but it will be worth it.

After a devastating natural flash flood over two years ago, (that ended closing the town down for 3 months),I felt it was time to move on. And by a miraculous move of God, someone else purchased the store.Our place survived the flood physically but I was unprepared to weather a long term financial storm. A successful business does not always mean loads of stored up cash in the bank. While we were number one in our market, the economy kept us at an even month to month flow. I found myself with no reserves mentally, emotionally or financially. It was time for new adventures.

After the sale of the business,I was then free to pursue my own work and a new path.I have used the time off, so to speak, to develop my own style. It is now 2 1/2 years later , and after selling in mid-level craft shows, with a body that's tired of schlepping, I am looking for a more influential way to contribute to the Ceramic world, and let's be honest, make a good living.

I am still teaching part-time, but my spirit wants to be able to contribute more while at the same time challenging myself to grow as an artist and a person.

So the application progress has begun. I am hoping to complete an MFA in Ceramics at Hood College in Frederick, MD. So please say a prayer for me or wish me luck! And if you find yourself in a similar situation, I say go for it! What do you have to lose? Maybe we can cheer each other on.

below are some of the samples of the work I submitted for my application.

many blessings, Charlene


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