Written by Lennon Wolcott, M.F.A. 2017
When I was considering graduate and post-baccalaureate programs, I was worried about the cost, location, and resources of the school. Would I feel comfortable enough to do my best work and make the time worth the cost? From having sat in the back of my mother’s college classrooms at the age of five, I have learned the “tells” of any good educational institution. There are common traits to look for in a school where students can succeed and you can tell this by the people you meet. It is the alliance of support that makes a place special, something beyond great studios and shops.
- While on my first tour at SMFA, I met five people. Their support and inspiration were why I decided to build my community here.
Keena (Former Grad Student): The first person I interacted with was then a current graduate student named Keena. Not only was she friendly and welcoming, but open about the program. She encouraged me to ask any questions that I may have. I learned about the ins and outs of the program, the best kept secrets, and things to look for in the building and studios. She informed me of places and resources that she appreciated that could also be beneficial to me. I was able to see first-hand what she was gaining from the program and learn how she would use this experience when she left. Keena shared a vision of who I could be and urged me to make myself at home in the potential of my own space here. After our conversation, I could see myself sitting in her place, happily working on producing my best work and developing a strong sense of self.
Nan Freeman (Director, Post-Bacc Program): After the tour, I had lunch with a group of prospective graduate students and the director of the post-bacc program, Nan Freeman. She asked us what had led us to SMFA at Tufts and to share what our backgrounds were. Being able to share our backgrounds and learning that this would be a resource in our art making was vital. I felt able to express a variety of passions and use my individual skillset as an asset in my practice, encouraging my research, and pushing my vision. I knew from this conversation, that a structure of interdisciplinary experimentation was built into the SMFA at Tufts model.
Peter Scott (Professor of the Practice, Printmaking): The next person I interacted with was Peter Scott. From my first conversation with him, I knew that he was going to be my favorite faculty members at SMFA at Tufts (shhh, do not tell that to all of my other favorite SMFA faculty). Peter, a practicing and ridiculously talented artist in the field of printmaking, talked “shop” with me about facilities and working with print media at the school. He is whip-smart with a conceptual understanding and a sense of humor. He made me feel at home and that this was the place I wanted to be. Luckily for me, I would find that same amazing dynamic with so many of the faculty I have come to admire.
After a half a day engaging with faculty members, current students, going on tours, and listening to a panel, I walked around the school trying to decide if I would be comfortable at the SMFA. I wandered into the library where I was greeted by Ashley Peterson and Darin Murphy, the Research and Instruction Librarian and the Head of the Fine Arts Library respectively. The three of us sat and talked for over 45 minutes about art, research, and resources that the library could provide. They pulled out artists’ books and references for me to view and told me about individual research visits. The SMFA library is small but mighty and they let me know that it is part of a consortium which provides students with access to books from around the world in addition to the SMFA and Tisch libraries’ collections. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be in a place where people were so passionate about their subjects and eager to help others find their own.
Leaving the library, I knew that the SMFA at Tufts would be the right choice for me. I looked forward to continuing conversations with the faculty, staff, and students on a regular basis. Meeting these five people helped me to take a leap of faith, knowing that I would have the resources and support to develop myself as an artist.
No matter what happened, the juice would be worth the squeeze!