Interview with a Fine Arts Graduate Advisor

Information compiled by the team - last updated November 2010

Fine arts is consistently a popular field of graduate study, and the Pratt Institute in New York City is one of the premier schools at which to study to become an artist. Pratt’s Donna Moran, chair of the fine arts department since 2000, and Haribir Khalsa, assistant to the chair since 1999, agreed to sit down and tell us what graduate students studying the fine arts can expect in a program. 

Moran: Our expectation is that they will allow themselves to be pushed to work harder and explore their ideas more thoroughly than they ever thought possible. Our expectation is that they are here to actually learn something and not just to achieve the MFA so they can teach. We expect them to be ambitious about being an artist and to learn to do the work to make success possible.Q: What are your expectations for your students?

Q: What would you like students to take away from the program?

Moran: We want the students to take away a feeling of support and critical thinking from their experience. They should feel that faculty really listened to them, not trying to influence them into a style of work but to support their vision and strengthen their ability for self-criticism. The students should also have an understanding of the business of art.

Q: How important is foreign language to the field?

Khalsa: It is not at all necessary, but personally we think it is important in order to be a citizen of the larger art world.

Q: What degrees do you advise students to obtain?

Moran: Beyond their MFA, no others, unless they are also interested in arts administration, teaching or art history.

Q: Other than the worldwide appeal of and interest in the arts, what are the international contexts of your discipline?

Khalsa: We have a large majority of international students.

Q: What are some less traditional/obvious career choices for students in the field?

Moran: Obvious choices include working for non-profit arts organizations, museums, commercial galleries and arts support companies, for which students may work as art handlers or movers. Other traditional jobs include teaching, work with photography databases and art criticism writing. Students can also go on to careers at community centers and as Web or scenery designers. Bartending, waiting tables and driving cabs are actually traditional jobs for anyone who wants to have a serious studio practice and not take their work home with them. Non-traditional choices include almost anything else.

Q: How do you view the future of the study field?

Khalsa: Hopefully, there will always be people who want to study in the arts. We believe that the fine arts program is actually a similar training to the traditional liberal-arts training versus the trade school idea of university. Students learn to approach problem solving in many different ways, and this makes them valuable employees, as well as interesting artists.


Check out: Fine Arts Graduate Programs

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