Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thesis Defense

Last Thursday was one of the most nerve racking days of my graduate experience: thesis defense day. This is the point in which one must stand up in front of their artwork, explain it and defend your decisions with historical and theoretical references.

This was also the day that my written thesis was due. I was fortunate to have a dear friend of mine, Nicolette Jackson Pownal, to act as editor. What I thought would be a 2-3 hour correction of sentence structure corrections and grammar turned into an 8 hour review of the text, word by word and line by line. This intense scrutiny of the written text helped to clarify my ideas to a non-artist, which meant I really had to explain what I was talking about. I believe this process flowed over into the next day as I presented to my faculty.

I showed up to the gallery with notes typed up outlining what I would discuss, a professional outfit on and was prepared to be the first one to present. The faculty lined up in front of me like a firing squad and for 30 minutes I explained the conceptualization of the project and historical significance. Finally I opened it up to questions and comments, and there were a few points of clarification. All in all, it couldn't have went better! Over the rest of the day my faculty said the presentation was really good and my paper much improved.

Six hours later after my 5 peers had presented there was the last test--the private conversation where the faculty decide if we should graduate. Some 10 minutes went by and then we were called back in and all given the thumbs up! I now had the green light to graduate, and what a relief that was. I had proven myself to my faculty and thus will become a colleague.

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