2018, April 2018, Archives, The MFA Years

Lost at SAIC: A Mini-Memoir

And so 2018 was off to a bang. Three different bangs. Bang. Bang. Bang. I will enumerate them below.

  1. A poetry workshop (I know I claimed to be a poet when joining the MFA Years community, but I might’ve lied about that).
  2. A writing class with a focus on incorporating programming languages and electronic elements in poetics.
  3. A medium-format film photography class.

The premise of these, individually, was initially exciting. I figured I was maximizing the interdisciplinary nature of my program and gearing it towards my needs, my very disparate and incoherent needs. My “texts” (I hid my “poems” of the past under the pretense of calling them “texts” to avoid the scrutiny that may have come with calling them poems) needed some maturing, as did I, and so I figured this diverse curriculum I’d set up for myself was going to help me do that and become an adult.

Also to help me evolve into a mature artist, I thought I could cover the more experimental desires of my practice by taking a class that would help me move my text beyond the page and out of the realm of video. And so, I jumped headfirst into legions deep water into the possibility of using Python and artificial intelligence to help me crank out some writing. Besides jumping in headfirst, this class also had me engaging with my head in ways I hadn’t previously imagined — like banging my head against the wall, but more on that later.

As for photography, I’ve always referred to it was the “side hoe,” if you will, of my practice. In my 23-years of living, it’s always been there for me. Key word: there. There, a camera quietly accumulating dust on my beside. There, the camera in my backpack on every trip I’ve been on since the age of 14. Having been away from the medium because of the bureaucratic impediments my institution presented me with (by limited my access to equipment and facilities), I thought I would rekindle with my perpetually lost love and step up my photographic game — maybe muster additional technical skill to finally say that I am also a photographer.


In conclusion, it was all very hard (at first). I spent a lot of time banging my head against the wall trying to write code and make work, and make sense, with the annals of a coding language I hardly knew. Every week, I entered a battlefield when trying to think of poetry. How could I be a poet if I typically have nothing meaningful to say and I still giggle at 42069 jokes? Could this be poetry? Would you publish my chapbook if it had a poem titled 42069? In trying to grapple with three mediums I’d never really honed in on previously, I was left feeling a wanderer: unsure about the progress I was making, unsure of my evolving maturity levels, unsure of the slowness of the process, unsure if whether my flu would turn into bronchitis and later land me in the hospital with pneumonia, unsure if that was heartburn or if I was hungry.

Very unsure.

In further conclusion, now two weeks away from the end of this treacherous second semester and gearing up for my last year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I have found that these very disparate endeavors have brought me to very separate projects that I feel relatively excited about. I’d like to say this is a good thing. Part of my personal feelings of achievement stem from including both 420 and 69 together in a poem (success? I think yes). Despite a semester’s worth of what’s been a somewhat intense photography course, I still haven’t found a way to bump up the medium up to “main” status. I’m wondering if I ever will or if it’ll always just be there. I did, however, come up with a project that will allow me to continue to delve into the computer geeking and coding world (hopefully incorporating this aspect into my artistic practice will make me seem “cool,” and by cool I mean more marketable, and also, maybe, turn my life around and land me a bunch of money and a job in a chic start-up).

In my final conclusion, I don’t really know what I’m talking about and by what you may, or may not, have read, I don’t really know what I’m doing. But I am doing something, and I think that’s okay.


Note: T