MFA in Studio Art

August 29, 2019

Student Stories: Debra Crouch

What are goals are you hoping to pursue, after receiving the MFA degree?

I see this program as an opportunity to become a better, more conceptually driven artist. I want to be able to show my artwork in group and solo exhibitions and getting this experience in making and receiving feedback for these two years is an incredible opportunity for growth.

Are there aspects of our program that you have found unique?

The most unique aspect of the program is the Low-Residency Structure.  We work from our home studios and communicate with faculty remotely.  The program has students from places outside of Fort Wayne, so I get to communicate with a lot of people who I would have never met locally.  Additionally, USF matches us with mentors from outside of the University, which is not something I have seen in other MFA programs.  Because of this, I have gotten the opportunity to work closely with 2 significant photographers, Elizabeth Ernst and Dylan Vitone.  I have admired their work for a long time and it has been incredible to have them as my mentors.  It has really changed my work.

What impact do the pre-semester intensives have on your upcoming year?

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the intensive, the on-campus portion of the program. I always say that I want to participate in the Intensives even after I am done with this program.  This intensive, I am looking forward to seeing new students, to continue building this community.  The Intensive is an opportunity to learn a lot in a short amount of time (8 to 10 days a semester).  It gives us direction, it sets the tone for the whole semester, and it allows us to get to know each other, exchange ideas, and get to know our faculty.

What has been your favorite project (or class, or speaker) you’ve experienced so far, during your time in the program?

We work with so many artists/speakers in each intensive, it is really difficult to choose just one. During our first Intensive, photographer Stephanie Sinclair spoke to us.  Her work documents and addresses human rights issues across the world.  She did a series called “Too Young to Wed,” which documented the troubling practice of children who are forced to wed.  She then created a nonprofit organization with the mission of protecting girls’ rights and ending child marriage.  This talk was significant because it made me realize that I can do so many things with my art, and was a clear example of how art can lead to meaningful change.

What advice can you offer to individuals interested in pursuing the MFA in Studio Art at USF?

This is a really unique opportunity.  There are not many schools in the area that offer an MFA.  The ones that are offered in IN are not Low-Residency, so this specific MFA is a great way to get to know artists from a lot of different places.  I think that if you are a creative person and are looking for a way to add meaning to what you do, or you have a passion for this, you should apply.  I am only one year into the two-year program and I am loving it and appreciating the growth that has happened in this year.  You cannot get this kind of growth working on your own. The mentorship aspect of the program is crucial.