ETSU Photo Alumni Series: Amanda Musick

© Amanda Musick

Amanda Musick lives and works in Clemson, South Carolina. Musick graduated with a B.F.A. from East Tennessee State University in 2015. In addition to many regional exhibitions, Musick has most notably exhibited in Fauna, a group show juried by artist William Wegman, in San Anselmo, CA at the Smith Andersen North Gallery. Musick is attending the graduate program at Clemson University.

© Amanda Musick

What was the most difficult part of selecting a graduate program?

I wouldn't say there has been one part of the selection process more difficult than the other. There are so many questions I had to answer such as; Which professors do I most want to work with? What type of opportunities would an MFA from this program/institution provide me? Does the program encourage you to take other courses outside your medium? What are their MFA alumni doing now? Is their photography department active with other networks such as SPE? How good is the program's financial offer? Will the facilities and off-campus environment supplement my work? Will living in that city be fitting for me? The challenge has been figuring out which of these factors hold more weight towards my decision. It's been a perfect opportunity to make a pros and cons list.

© Amanda Musick

When did you know that you wanted to continue your education? 

Once I really began studying the work and careers of artists that I admired. Reading their CVs and resumes showed that many of the artists I was looking at had gotten their MFA. These artists have connections to the academic community that interest me and they have reached a level in their work that I want to achieve. I think there are many avenues I could take in order to continue my education. I knew I wanted to do so after taking just a couple photography courses. However, I did not always know that continuing my education would include an MFA. After finishing undergrad I thought about my artistic network of people so far, and the conversations I had with peers and professors. I decided that getting my MFA was one of the paths I wanted to take to continue my education.

After considering all those factors how many schools did you apply to? 

I applied to Clemson, Duke, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Georgia, Yale, and Lesley University. In choosing which schools to apply to all I had to work with was information found online, a few webinars, and conversations with former professors. I had not visited all of the schools and cities at that point. My initial impression of each program really changed as I started the interview part of the selection process. It was a big help in making a decision to talk with that programs faculty and current graduate students.

© Amanda Musick

How did the program at Clemson differentiate itself from the others?

From the time I applied, the faculty I communicated with at Clemson were very engaged in my work and reached out to assist me in any way they could. During my first visit, they immediately were giving me feedback and artists to research. The program showed to be a close knit group of faculty and graduate students. The lay out of the graduate studios was also impressive. It allows for strong community among us, and there is almost always someone around you can grab for some quick feedback on your work. 

And how would you describe your graduate school experience so far?

At first I felt as if I was sky diving, and wasn't sure if my parachute was going to work. Now I don't feel like that, I figured out how to open my parachute. It's an exciting, overwhelming time, and I'm trying to learn everything new that I can. It is constant work, or at least continuous thought about work or writing. My only complaint is that there are not enough hours in the day to read all the books and articles, watch all the films, and make all the work I want to. I've been given a countless number of films, writings, artists, etc. and enjoy sorting through these new ideas and figuring out how to apply them to my work.

I've found that as long as you make a decision to work and give a program all you've got – to truly dedicate yourself to it then you'll make it. I feel that you get out of a program what you put into it. I am very pleased with my decision to study at Clemson. It’s been a privilege working with Anderson Wrangle, along with the other faculty and graduate students. I look forward to the rest of my time here, time that is going by too quickly.


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