Well, 2012 so far has brought about two rejection letters so far. Not bad, considering we're just in the beginning of our second month. I usually feel a mix of and indignance and sadness when I'm rejected. I suppose it's the usual fare. The first one wasn't so bad. It was for this fellowship locally that I was already ambivalent about attending.
Then came Yale. I put my heart into the application, drafting so many different versions of a statement, and poring over my portfolio with insane attention to detail. I was denied admission not by email, but by an email that said something had been updated, and so I had to login to their website for the privilege of getting some bad news. I wasn't even invited to interview with them; the whole time I was saying, I know it's a crapshoot, but I just hope they invite me to interview before they reject me. Because the interview might dignify the rejection process, and also anybody who meets me would be out of their mind to reject me, or at least I could justify that they didn't prefer meyer lemon tarts to chocolate mousse. (I've determined that my dessert persona is a meyer lemon tart. It's dense, but not too. Sweet, but not too. And it takes longer to make so you don't always see it on the menu. Thinking of myself in this way has, since I was cast in the chorus in high school plays, helped me deal with rejection).
But no dignity was to be had. I had only just let myself look into the faculty profiles. I fantasized about super-deep conversations and life-long relationships with people who would be honest with me about my work, inevitably adore me. These people would become my network for my career moving forward. I might be able to practice in New York. Stay closer to the people who I know and love. Then, before anything got terribly out of hand, I was rejected and it was over.
It was hard for me to feel indignant because it was so quick. Clearly I hadn't come across in a way that spoke to them. Clearly the failure was mine. My friend pointed off that the Meyer Lemon Tart Analogy still held true. Which was right. If they weren't feeling my work, there wasn't much I could do in that domain. I was never about to change the type of work I do for anything. Not for fulfilling assignments, not for lack of money, not for lack of support from gallerists or lack of technical skills.
But part of me is still so curious about what they were looking for. What conversations were had over the work that I'd poured my income and SOUL into over the past four years or so. It is really killer. I did shed a few tears but then started laughing at the absurdity of it all. I drove simultaneously laughing and crying as Pittsburgh simultaneously snow-rained. Nothing seemed to be able to make up its mind.
Long story short, I skipped a few meals out of feeling ill. Then I was whisked away to an amazing shopping trip where I was doted on for hours. Secured an awesome new outfit, including, fittingly, a raincoat which I'm sure would make future such rainy days all the more exciting. In the end, it didn't hurt that much. It didn't hurt as much as having a gallerist who didn't turn on your work, after you'd spent years of your life and the equivalent of three years' rent on realizing it. It definitely didn't hurt as much as having my heart broken for the first time.
And I'm ready to move on, but mostly I am really insecure about what other schools will do. Everything feels like it's in flux, and while I try to remind myself that my situation right now is very stable, I have a roof over my head, "a song in my heart, food in my belly, love in my family," etc etc. And that living this way can go on the way that it has. I've already allowed myself to lust for something more ... both a good and a bad thing. So. Oh well.
notes - Mel Chin talk at MCAD
1 day ago