It’s done! I am now a Master of Fine Arts.

The months leading up to the end of the Intermedia MFA program were hectic. They included a gallery show, observing how my work integrated into the gallery, defending my thesis, and presenting a final version of the thesis to my thesis committee and the graduate school. I got little sleep and would not have made it through the revisions and defense without lots of help from my friends.

Thesis Process

A photo of the empty Lord Hall Gallery with all 2022 MFA thesis projects visible. On the left hand side, purple spherical shapes and an empty space surrounded by black speakers can be seen. On the right, baskets, a dress, houses, and a hanging rug can be seen.  My classmates and I prepared University of Maine’s Lord Hall Gallery for a month long thesis show, complete with a gallery opening. The show, This Place This Time, ran from May 27 - July 1. I displayed Motion: Connecting Body with Sound and Position, the project corresponding with my thesis research during the show. Preparing for the show itself was a doozy - the project underwent two or three major revisions and sets of decision making between the Student Symposium and the gallery opening on May 27. It was also physically demanding - requiring days spent on the ladder and lots of cable running along the ceiling.

The work paid off! I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the gallery visitors experience and interact with Motion. Elaborating upon this deserves its own post or other writeup, to be written shortly. But in short, I wish to create more work where, as you watch participants over time, you can observe patterns in how they approach interacting with the work.

Thesis Writing

Writing an art thesis differed from writing a science thesis. Therefore, it was difficult to know where to start, or what really needed to be included. I had read a few other theses from past students, but each student took a very different approach. What ended up working for me was making a draft my advisors could see, filling in the holes they mentioned, and really thinking about my project. An overview of what is truly necessary for making the project, what is actually its historical background, what went into the final thought process, and not necessarily documenting the previous, explored but unused in the final work is the goal.

Thesis defense

A photo of the empty Lord Hall Gallery with all 2022 MFA thesis projects visible. On the left hand side, purple spherical shapes and an empty space surrounded by black speakers can be seen. On the right, baskets, a dress, houses, and a hanging rug can be seen.  This came relatively easily after writing my thesis! I used my thesis, and feedback from the committee, to determine what was truly necessary to include. There were technical snafus due to the hybrid nature of my thesis defense and an inability to test the setup beforehand, but all in all, it seemed to work well.

Learn more in the writeup of my thesis defense.

Thesis Submission

After gaining more feedback and revisions to make from the committee, I submitted my thesis! My thesis is hosted in UMaine’s Fogler Library’s electronic collection of past theses and can be read at the following link: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/etd/3689/.

Lessons Learned From Process

  • Just write. Do it. You don’t need a set idea. Set aside a little time to do it everyday, and you can hopefully avoid 3 straight months of nothing else but thesis writing.
  • Accountability Buddies help. Working near others makes long hours of working pass by more quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid to lean on your community!
  • The document can always be better. You need it to be done. So at some point, just say, “Good enough.”
  • Check that your latex document is backed up in at least two pages before stepping away for a few days. Also, if version control works, use it.

What Next

As an artist, I have a very free seeming future. I need to figure out a method of earning income semi-reliably, but otherwise, so long as I remain unaffiliated, I can choose what to explore and how to do so. The drawback to this is figuring out how to fund things.

I am considering doing a mix of freelancing as someone who makes mathematical models and charts, part time jobs, and making art. Alternatively, finding a way to

I will post more about this journey in future posts.