Ysamin Keshtka is a graduate painting major at the Pratt Institute in New York. In addition to all of the work she does as a student, she has had a few jobs throughout the past two years. She was a receptionist in a gallery in Chelsea, worked at the Pratt libraries multimedia services department as a graduate assistant and had a few freelance jobs. Keshtka found some time to give us a glimpse into the busy life of a graduate student in fine arts.
Q: I understand you are a working student. How do you juggle work and school?
A: During the semesters that I had heavier course loads it was hard to keep up with both. I basically didn’t go out at all; my nights were spent completing school assignments and working on art. This presented a conflict of interests, as networking and going to see shows and meeting other artists is an important part of fine arts grad school as well.
Q: What did you major in as an undergrad? Did it help your graduate studies?
A: I majored in studio art at a liberal arts school, so yes, it helped my graduate studies.
Q: What is the most difficult aspect of the painting program/field? Most rewarding?
A: I think that relevance is an issue for painting that I find difficult. Also, there is so much going on in the arts, especially in New York City, that entering the field can be intimidating, and there is no guarantee of success upon completion of this degree.
The most rewarding aspect of this program is being able to do something I love and having the opportunity to take it as far as possible.
Q: What advice would you give students considering the field?
A: I would advise any student pursuing an MFA in fine arts to really examine why they are making that decision, and to be able to situate themselves in both a historical and a contemporary context in terms of art making and theory.
Q: What do you expect to get out of the program/what job do you hope to get?
A: I would like to be a painting instructor at a college or university.
Q: How do you view your future given your education choices? How will your painting degree figure in?
A: I feel positive about my future, but I know that it rests on my own decisions. I find that this is a field in which there is a lot of freedom, which can both help and hinder an individual professionally. However, I do believe that the degree is a step towards a career in the academic fine arts, which was the fundamental reason why I chose to come here. I would also like to have a career in the arts that allows me to continue my own work.
Q: What interdisciplinary electives do you think might enhance your education?
A: I think that media-focused classes, typography and marketing would enhance a fine arts education.
Q: What is your biggest regret regarding your education?
A: I could have better used the educational resources of my institutions.
Q: What are you involved with outside of the classroom?
A: Working, studying different fields and exploring NYC.