Nonaccredited versus accredited

Nonaccredited versus accredited

Someone asked me recently why I want to go to art school. Why not just take nonaccredited classes and workshops? There are benefits to both approaches, however.

I've been taking classes at Northwest Encaustic in West Seattle lately, and I love it there. The cost is very reasonable. I can make encaustic paintings or do encaustic sculpture. I can even go there on weekends and work all day in the studio for just $45 a day! Paints are included, and the studio is very organized and stocked with every tool imaginable.

I've also taken classes at the Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle. They offer a plethora of fantastic classes - everything from welding to marble carving to glass blowing and casting. That's where I learned glass casting, in fact. I made the above sculpture there, in 2004. And, like at Northwest Encaustic, the students' ages vary widely, with many or most in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.

But after being taken on a full-day personalized tour at Cornish College of the Arts the other day (as an admitted student), it became clear to me that the main reason I want to go to art school full-time is the chance to be totally immersed in art making. And I just love Cornish's respectful attitude toward its students - encouraging experimentation and individuality while also providing formal structure, criticism, advice, and art-world contacts. And even though most of the students there are a lot younger, they seem like colleagues to me rather than kids, because they are so passionate about their art. Plus, having a BFA and maybe later even an MFA certainly gives an artist more street cred.

Some might say, yeah, but who can afford to go back to college full-time, especially at an expensive art school like Cornish? Maybe if you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth....

Well, fortunately for me I was not born with any utensil, silver or otherwise, in my mouth. I say fortunately because I think that NOT having everything handed to you forces you to be a lot more resourceful in life.

It's cliche to say where there's a will there's a way, but it's also true. It will be hard, no doubt. In addition to maxing the student loans, I'll have to work at least one part-time job while attending Cornish full-time, and I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for any chance to make extra money.

Becoming unemployed has turned out to be a major blessing for me. It has given me a chance to really take a look at my life, and figure out how to dive in with no regrets and follow my passion.

And that's what it's really all about, isn't it?