The Memphis College of Art
The Memphis College of Art - Comments and Student Experiences|
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.
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.
The first year wasn't too bad, but it rapidly went downhill.
The school is so focused on constant negativity. I didn't expect to be babied, but to have things I spent a lot of time on made fun of in class with the teacher's approval was horrible.
Once a year, you will have to take all your work in front of a review committee. This is a group of about four teachers who will look at everything you've done and tear you to shreds. Expect to see many heartbroken students that day.
I finally left the school when a teacher I thought highly of (and also happened to be the head of my major) humiliated me in front of the class.
If you go here, the real way to succeed is to become "buddy/buddy" with the teachers. If they don't like a certain style or media, don't do it even if it's what you're best at. If you're quiet and shy like me, don't go here...you will simply get walked over, ignored, set up to fail, and ridiculed.
I am a big believer in constructive criticism, but that is not what I received here. It was like being in high school gym class again, but even worse because this was something I actually cared about.After leaving this school, it took me two years to pick up a pencil to draw again. It's taken me five years to regain my love for art. I am still trying to heal from the horrible experience I had at this school.