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The Memphis College of Art

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Memphis College of Art is different

May 04 2014Design Arts - Industrial Design/Graphic Design/etc
Memphis College of Art is different. There is only one main building for classes. The College itself is in the middle of a park so it is pretty, however I always feel unsettled walking around by myself as i'm constantly being harassed. Parking in the summer and spring is awful, as everyone is trying to be at the park and there are no actual parking spaces surrounding the building. The Fogelman and Metz dorms are nice, but the internet is TERRIBLE. Security makes rounds constantly, but during the two times we've had tornadoes there hasn't been any security in sight. I do not recommend walking in town at any time by yourself, people are scary and the location around it is considerably dangerous. Some teachers are rather snobbish, though not all. Expect to be challenged. I did not enjoy my time here, I'm transferring out.
1st Year Female -- Class 2018
Useful Schoolwork: A, Education Quality: D

If you want to learn how to draw

Jun 04 2013Design Arts - Industrial Design/Graphic Design/etc
If you want to learn how to draw and paint well, go elsewhere.
The fundamentals program is horrendously lackadaisical about technical ability and provides no source of competition or need to try hard to succeed. The amount of people that get through fundamentals and then somehow manage to graduate without even learning how to draw well is staggering. If you think I'm joking, visit during when the seniors of the semester have their work up. See if the work of students of your intended major is up to par with what you're looking to achieve. Make sure to take into account all of the students' as well as from other departments.

The painting department is fully rooted in "doing your own thing" which translates to "99% professional bullshit with 1% representational work". There is no value in painting well there, and it's all contemporary/modern art ideals.

One of the most important things as an artist if you wish to draw well is how to draw the figure, and how to draw it well. You will not learn that here. To learn how to draw the figure well, you must learn anatomy, line control, and gesture. Line control and gesture are lightly taught, but with no supplement of anatomy or any sort of construction technique, the one life drawing class provided (that you can re-take 2 more times) is extremely lacking. The reason cited for the professor no longer teaching it is that he deemed it no longer necessary. Somehow, I find that odd when comparing that to every top-tier school's curriculum.

The illustration department experience was largely good, though my favorite professor no longer teaches there. There is a new department head coming in this Fall (Fall 2013), which appears to be promising. Even then, if you're looking for competition, you won't really find it here. You might find one or two people in your class worth your time, if you're lucky.

I believe it's possible to do well in the illustration department, but the rest of the school is so loaded up with silly ideals, bad/lacking instruction, bad management, etc, that there is no way that you will be able to focus on what you need to create good, well-crafted illustrations as much as you should. Therefore your graduating portfolio will likely be infinitely weaker than several other top-tier schools (MICA, Art Center, Ringling, SVA, etc). You'll get out of school realizing that you don't know nearly enough, and likely spend at least a year cramming in what you should've learned your sophomore year.This school doesn't cost nearly as much as other art schools, but please realize, it's for a VERY good reason. Look elsewhere if you're serious about becoming a skilled artist. If this is your only option monetarily, go to a local university, or hit up online resources (CGMW, TAD, Schoolism, Gnomon) -- it's not like the degree (from MCA especially) will actually do anything for you.

2nd Year Male -- Class 2017
Perceived Campus Safety: A, Collaboration/Competitive: F

I am a transfer student from the New

Apr 30 2013Fine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
I am a transfer student from the New England area but originally from Seattle. I was looking to get out of New England because I could no longer stand the people there so I decided to look else where for schooling. I only applied to MCA because of the $15 application fee and when they got back to me offering more scholarship than any other school I applied to, it was a given where I would attend.

After my first semester I already was talking to the head of my department (Haley Morris-Cafiero in Photo) about transferring. This school has a few things going for it but for the majority of the students here it is a waste of time and money. Haley specifically does a great job at professional preparation but I have heard in many of the other departments that that's not a school wide priority.

Some of the major problems with MCA have to do with the most important aspects of education.
1. Don't expect to get babied. Critics are sometimes irritating and you don't always (or sometimes ever) feel appreciated. They run on negativity but what art school doesn't?

2. The facilities are horrendous. Apart from the printmaking and painting facilities this school is falling apart. The building is old, and with that comes many maintenance problems with no funding to fix the root cause and no funding to hire more people to fix them. The basement floor floods somewhere every time it rains, the equipment given to the students is so out dated and sub par it's embarrassing (my community college had better ceramics and painting studios, and my high school had better photo equipment) plus if you talk to the faculty they refuse to acknowledge the problems and reassure you that even if the equipment is old, it still works like the newest and best stuff out there, not true.

3. With this "lack of funding" they still manage to open up new dorm space for the growing population by "renovating" the old problematic spaces they previously housed people in.

4. Again because of their budget issues, the schools academics are taking a huge blow. They have announced to students that they will be combining the painting and drawing departments into one degree in order to save money by firing teachers because they are under staffed and cant afford to hire new ones.

5. Despite all these problems, they still manage to give a minimum scholarship of 12 grand to anyone who asks for it. The majority of the freshman class is a joke they only accepted in order to take their money for a year and a half (if that) before forcing them to drop out because they suck and should never have been accepted in the first place. All the while deserving students get shit on and pigeon holed into staying because classes like IPC and many of the other courses won't even transfer due to their growing accreditation problems.

6. If you plan on transferring here, believe me there are better schools with more equipped programs and better funding. This school really does give you what you pay for. A cheap education with bare minimum requirements and programs that fall short of competing with other major national art schools.

Throughout all of the negatives listed above, I do believe that MCA can help some people who don't know anything about going to college, want the minimum education required to survive in the art world or who just want to waste mommy and daddy's money until they get married. But for those who want an excellent education with top of the line facilities, equipment and the ability to easily transition into the real world. I would look elsewhere.

OVERALL: This is a mediocre school, with no competitive reputation, and a lot of funding and budgeting issues.If you want/need a cheap education it's not a bad option. But there are much better ones out there.

1st Year Female -- Class 2014
Perceived Campus Safety: A, Campus Maintenance: F
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