Masters of arts

Everyone likes to feel that their work is appreciated. Whether praise comes in the form of a comment made, or just a show of support, there’s no denying the positive effect it can have on a person.

Everyone likes to feel that their work is appreciated. Whether praise comes in the form of a comment made, or just a show of support, there’s no denying the positive effect it can have on a person. In the next couple of weeks, the inaugural graduates of the Master of Fine Arts Applied Craft and Design Program will be exhibiting the projects they completed for their practicum portion of their degrees. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a few moments to appreciate the fine work done by budding local artists and designers.

The exhibit is entitled “Make Way” and will run from every day from noon to 6 p.m., May 23 through June 17. It’s the culmination of two years of design and artistry work by the graduates. The projects by the 13 students will be on display in the Galleria Building at the corner of Southwest 10th and Morrison. The focus of practicum students is to explore the convergence of the practices of art, craft and design.

One student who’s gotten a lot of notice recently is Laura Allcorn. For her project, she created a set of tools that can be used by humans to make pollinating crops and other plants easier. Though she mostly designs jewelry, Allcorn expressed concern over Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which the worker bees in the hive simply disappear. Since 2006, CCD has been blamed for a drop in honeybee population in North America, which in turn has created a drop in food production. Allcorns work throws attention not only on CCD, but also on ways in which humans can create a sustainable future.

This sustainable future idea is one of the driving forces behind the MFA Applied Craft and Design Program, as one of the program’s many aims is to encourage social and environmental responsibility. Created together by the Oregon College of Art and Craft and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, it’s the only graduate program of its kind.

The MFA degree program combines mentor-based learning along with a year round parade of visiting artists who work one-on-one with the students to give students a program which focuses on hands-on work, entrepreneurial skills and strategies, and environmental engagement. Student curriculum is self-directed and offers students the challenge of bringing life to their ideas. The goal of such a curriculum is to aid students in developing a strong artistic voice, which they can use with entrepreneurial skills to help a client realize their ideas. It’s all about simultaneously making a living and making a difference.

The MFA Applied Craft and Design Program accepts students from a variety of creative backgrounds and encourages the exploration of design as a concept and the making process. Students hone their skills in a cross-disciplinary studio environment. The program was developed for students who are interested in investigating objects and actions that benefit from the sensibilities of craft and design.

As mentioned, the practicum exhibit that will be on display is the conclusion of students’ two years of study. It’s basically the same as a thesis. Students have to write a capstone paper, and present a tangible expression of the practical application of knowledge or skill in a new way. This expression can come in the form of designed educational experiences, the formation of collaborative organizations, or creating built work. The same work showcased in the gallery is also presented by the student to a formal committee. Needless to say, it’s a tense time for these students.

Head down to the Galleria Building in the next few weeks and show your support for some hard-working Portland artists. After all, as Sally Field showed us in the acceptance speech for her second Oscar, everyone likes to hear that someone likes them, they really like them. Or at least, likes their work. ?