“I stand behind my vision. It represents me as an artist.”
I looked at the aluminium foil-clad box she just “installed” opposite the isolated robbed-from-the-web, float-framed photograph then back at her and then back at the “installation.” I’m all for minimalism, but if this represented her vision as an artist, her pending MFA was going to have a short life span on the art market.
Frankly, her fate as an artist didn’t concern me. The feedback from me and our curator that this (shoddily-thrown-together-sorry-excuse-for-a-commissioned) artwork was entirely different from her accepted proposal, and therefore, entirely unprofessional fell on deaf ears.
I wanted to shake her — don’t you get it? We’re trying to help your career!
That’s what I hoped my eyes said to her when she added:
“I don’t think this is at all different from my proposal.”
Feeling a bit like Michael Kors on Project Runway, facing a designer blind to her own inexperience, I simultaneously admired her self-confidence and abhorred her arrogance. I vowed this was the last time I’d work with an MFA student. Emerging artist? No, thanks. Give me an established artist, I said to myself.
Ironic, considering that not so long ago, I was a soon-to-be recent grad school graduate waiting for my first break into the real world…
Maybe, I’m being harsh. But my experience with the Bravo-Reality-show-educated artist hasn’t been an anomaly when dealing with recent (as in, since 2011) graduates…
Enter the Bravo Generation, where an individual’s vision reigns supreme and constructive criticism from seasoned vets is really not constructive, it’s a complete lack of understanding.
I wasn’t entirely sure that recent things I read, including an A.O. Scott film review, were being entirely fair when they call the early to mid 20-somethings complacent, or stunned in their growth to adulthood. What I’ve noticed is an attitude — a kind of supped-up sense of entitlement (I have a right to be who I want to be and wait, as long as it takes, for the exact job that will put me on the path to be who I want to be) — and the false senses that an internship = experience and that starting a website and calling yourself a “founder” legitimizes you.
Sure, it’s the age of Entrepreneurship, but “coming soon” can only go on for so long.
So graduates, here are 3 things to keep in mind as you head out into the real world:
1. Know what you don’t know: Internships are only introductions — they don’t make you experts. Learn to acknowledge the difference between exposure and experience — Earning a 2-year MA in museum studies is not the same thing as working in a museum for 2 years. Courses for a grade are not the same things as projects for your boss.
2. Be prepared to earn your stripes. No one owes you anything and you’re not proven until you’ve been tested.
3. There’s always someone better than you out there. Let that keep you motivated, but also keep you humble.