Interview with Ms. Carol Kim, Director of Enrollment Services

Interview with Ms. Carol Kim, Director of Enrollment Services

at California Institute of the Arts

What are the top three reasons that students choose to pursue a graduate degree in the visual arts?

The opportunity it offers for honing their creative abilities in an environment conducive to growth

The desire to earn the credentials necessary to teach at the collegiate level

The non-teaching employment advantages provided by earning an advanced degree

Professionally speaking, why should students pursue graduate programs in art? What advantages can they attain from it? When is the best time to pursue one?

Earning a graduate degree in Art provides the necessary credentials for teaching at the university level. It also provides students with the time to immerse themselves in their artistic practice in a creatively stimulating environment. As students vary in their needs and personal experiences, there is no best time to pursue a graduate degree. However, many of our students find that it is best to have spent some time away from an educational institution between their undergraduate studies and their enrollment in one of our graduate programs.

What are the three most important factors that prospective students should consider when evaluating and choosing a graduate program in the visual arts?

Pedagogical focus of the institution

School's reputation for attracting and producing talented artists. (Students will learn as much from their classmates as from their faculty. The more inspiring your peers are, the more you will learn.)

Quality and accessibility of faculty.

How is your graduate art program different than those at other schools? How is technology integrated into your programs?

How is your graduate art program different than those at other schools? How is technology integrated into your programs?

Cal Arts MFA Art Programs place great emphasis on inter-disciplinary practices. Painters, sculptors, photographers, computer artists, video makers, performance artists, and graphic designers work alongside one another and share a common dialogue. There are few required classes, and instead graduate students have great independence in designing their course of study in conjunction with an assigned mentor. Technology has affected all of the arts, even the most traditional forms, and an acknowledgement of this is evident at Cal Arts via the many digital facilities available to students. Graduate students who wish to make technologically oriented work their primary means of expression may opt for our Integrated Media specialty.

How selective are graduate schools for the visual arts, and what are some hot tips for getting accepted?

The best schools are extremely competitive, students are encouraged to apply to several different institutions. The quality of an applicant's portfolio is of paramount importance. Prospective students should also have a strong understanding of art history, from ancient to contemporary, and the ability to elucidate how their work fits into this tradition.

How do most students fund their graduate education? How available are scholarships and other forms of financial assistance at your school?

Students typically fund their graduate education through a combination of scholarship monies, federal loans, and work study or off-campus employment. Scholarships are offered to most students and are both merit and need based. Loans and work study are available to all eligible students and are need-based only.

How does your school help its students to find jobs in the visual arts?

Cal Arts' Student Affairs Office provides current students and alumni with a job bank containing thousands of constantly changing employment listings. Our strong reputation and active alumni network is beneficial to students in their search for employment.

Tell us about some of your MFA graduates.

A great number of Cal Arts graduates go on to have very successful careers in the fine arts. Many are invited to exhibit in major museums internationally. A small sampling of such artists would include John Baldessari, Jeremy Blake, Ross Bleckner, Ingrid Calame, Sam Durant (current Art Program faculty), Eric Fischl, Lyle Ashton Harris, Larry Johnson, Mike Kelley, Daniel Martinez, Dave Muller, Laura Owens, Lari Pittman, Monique Prieto, Stephen Prina, Ed Ruscha, David L. Salle, Carrie Mae Weems, and James Welling.

Tell us about some of your noteworthy faculty.

All Cal Arts' faculty are required to be working artists in their field. Each are making noteworthy contributions in their area of practice. Representative members include:

Natalie Bookchin (Photography) works collaboratively and independently on and off the Internet. Recent exhibitions include projects at the Walker Art Center and the Whitney Biennial. She is a recent recipient of grants from Creative Time, Inc. and Creative Capital. Her works have been reviewed in dozens of national and international journals including The New York Times, ArtForum, as well as a handful of current books on new media and digital culture.

Martin Kersels (Co-Director, Program in Art) works in sculpture, audio, photography, and performance. He has had one-person shows in New York, Los Angeles, Bern, and Paris, and was featured on the cover of the April issue of Art in America. His work has also been shown in museum exhibitions such as "Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty," "Young Americans 2" at the Saatchi Collection, and the 1997 Whitney Biennial.

Lorraine Wild (Graphic Design) focuses on collaborations with architects, curators, and publishers. Her work has been published in I.D., Print, Design Quarterly, Eye, and in the anthologies The Graphic Edge, Typography Now, and Typography Now: Two. Her writing has appeared in numerous periodicals and books, including Emigre, I.D., Print, Graphic Design in America, Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse, and Looking Closer. She has received awards from ACD, AIGA, I.D., has also been a recipient of the Chrysler Award for innovation in Design, and her publication designs were recently the subject of an exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Please write and answer any other questions you can think of that would benefit prospective students.

Should a school's location influence my decision?

Yes. Though by no means essential to one's success as an artist, a good rule of thumb would be to study in the same city you wish to practice in. Your two to three years spent in school will provide you with a network of artist friends and contacts whom you will be able to easily call upon if you continue to inhabit the same artistic community. This time will also give you an opportunity to become knowledgeable about local exhibition spaces and other opportunities to show your work.

Graduate Program Profile: California Institute of the Arts

Enrollment: 1,200 (entire CalArts); Graduate Art program: approx 77 graduate students

School Tuition (in-state/out-of-state): Approximately $20,000

Student/Faculty Ratio: 6/1

Graduate degrees and programs offered in visual arts: MFA in Art, Graphic Design & Photogrpahy

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