I have another artist interview for you! A few weeks ago, I had a fascinating talk with Emily Erb. She had some really thought provoking things to say about the MFA. Check out an excerpt below and don’t forget to read the full interview on our Artists Talk page.

Q: Tell me a little bit out the ideas behind your work and what you hope to convey to your audience. 

EE: Well it’s on silk and generally politically driven, generally very colorful. I’m influenced by maps as well as political imagery.

Q: How has the MFA influenced your development as an artist and as a person? What have you learned? What skills have you developed?

EE: Of course, having my work seen by fresh eyes helps to influence it and steer it in directions it may not have gone.   Hopefully, it helps me make some of the connections that I need to make as an artist. I have switched up my process a bit. They wanted me to not paint on silk, so I tried painting on something else for a while and then went back to silk. I am working on new project that I am excited about.

This question of the value of the MFA has been on mind. I don’t think I would be a different person if I hadn’t gone for my MFA. Before talking to you, I was looking into what the MFA is supposed to be in society. What is it supposed to mean? It’s so unquantifiable. I was looking up articles about the MFA program as a whole, and found an article in the Huffington Post. It was focused on the MFA in creative writing, but I think creative writing and painting are comparable. The author sited few solid arguments for the MFA and against it.  He claimed that the reason we have the MFA isn’t for the benefit of each individual artist but for society to be able to maintain a standard of excellence and provide a living history of the craft, but I don’t know if it’s doing that.

Q: Why not? 

EE: Because a school is a business, because there are people who are there just to pay tuition. That doesn’t matter to the school, money and art don’t mix as nicely as we wish it would.  Maybe it would be different if the government funded MFA programs, but that would never happen. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m going to finish my MFA degree and see what effect it has in my ability to achieve the goals I have as an artist.

 Guernica Revisited, Emily Erb, Dye on Silk, 2010

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