Author Archives: Patricia Flores

Seeking a Little Guidance

At 10:30 Friday morning, I attended my Career Development mentoring session. Unlike previous mentoring appointments I’ve had at past conferences, I arrived at this one a bit more apprehensive. It was not going to be a simple check in with a colleague, to verify that I was moving along on the right and steady path. No, I was about to discuss a major left turn in my career trajectory, and needed serious advice.

As I’ve previously mentioned in posts here, I’m currently unemployed. Two years ago, I was laid off from a prominent managerial position at a leading art school. After 7 months, I cobbled together two adjunct teaching gigs, and survived the ensuing year prepping and teaching 11 classes between 2 institutions (one on semester; one on quarter), before being pink-slipped from both just 2 months apart. So here I am, another 7 months later. Yet, my decision to change things up goes a little deeper than just lack of jobs.

To make a long story short (and not too personal): I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11/01. The dust settled in my right ear, became an infection, killed my labyrinth. The 24/7 vertigo sent me to the NYU Medical Center/Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine for almost 2 years. I still have 24/7 vertigo, and now I’m almost deaf, but at least I can walk and read. Pretty important for the everyday, and for the academic.

Fast-forward 7 years: My priorities shifted for awhile, especially for the Ph.D. Now I’m 39, only have an MA in art history—not the terminal degree, and have a stalled out career. I am back in the studio for the first in many years. One of the interesting things I have learned, both in research and in experience, is that many survivors of 9/11 are suffering PTSD years later. So here I am, with panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares—almost 10 years later.

For the most part, I have put away the paint, and acquired an eight-harness loom. The side-to-side motion of weaving not only soothes me, but it mimics VOR—the vestibular-ocular reflex, the important eye movement connected to body positioning in space. In other words, weaving reduces vertigo for me—a happy accidental discovery. I am currently conducting additional research on its applications. Textiles are now my primary media.

I have also entered a study at Stanford University, looking at promising treatments for PTSD, which includes fMRI imaging, and a therapy modality called Prolonged Exposure Therapy. It’s connected with the Veterans Administration in Palo Alto. I’m very interested in the VA, because soldiers are coming back with blown out ears, and permanent vertigo.

So, you guessed it—the MFA.

I had been quite familiar with the art history route, and familiarity breeds comfort. Now, I am looking at a completely new route, never traveled before. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Yes. And, of course, when your assigned mentor tells you point blank that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and on the precisely right path, it is entirely worth it to go through with the session, no matter how nerve-wracking. Personal details and all. It’s part of my story, to make my own. Soon, my completed portfolio will speak for me.

Posted in Career Services, New York | 2 Comments

CAA MFA Exhibition Opening Reception, February 11, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery

scene from CAA MFA Reception, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, 2011. Photo courtesy: Patricia Flores

scene from CAA MFA Reception, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, 2011. Photo courtesy: Patricia Flores

The bodies were packed into the galleries, and the atmosphere was electric last night at the opening reception of the CAA MFA Exhibition, held of the Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, representing 20 MFA programs of the greater New York area. Each school was granted its own gallery space, and was curated to showcase the talents of the students in each program. It was refreshing to see that all the schools, and their current crop of graduate students, are equally fluent and knowledgeable in the language and trends prevalent in the NYC gallery world.

I’m not so sure if that’s good or bad, because it’s difficult to differentiate the work between each school; each of the presentations by each represented school looked almost the same. This could be the condition of the instructors today in NYC academia—the widespread sharing of faculty (adjuncts and visiting artists) between several institutions—create one big NYC aesthetic. That being said, it’s good in a universal sense, because it gives an identity. Or, as Jerry Saltz would say, a regional identity. However, one wishes each program would distinguish themselves from the others.

While they all stand together as really hip, up-to-date, and as each parts of a larger tribe, one wishes each program would stand out and apart, and create a unique statement highlighting its particular strengths. They each have the opportunity to distinguish themselves by their exciting areas of development, whether they are social practice, radical craft, transmedia, research-based practices/new knowledge, and other forms of new products and processes in practice.

Something to ponder for next year….

Posted in CAA, Exhibitions, New York | 7 Comments

Career Talk

Walking into the Career Services Orientation on Tuesday evening, I was expecting a full house of anxious, anticipating job seekers. It seemed well attended on first glance. Held in the East Ballroom on the third floor of the Hilton, a very large room with a sea of sea foam green-colored chairs, it could have held hundreds.

Speaking to Emmanuel Lemakis, Director of Programs for CAA, and facilitator of the Orientation, he commented that his headcount was 100+, which I thought was quite a few. However, that number was below his expectations. Emmanuel remarked “this was the best showing of jobs and interviewers at CAA in years.” He expected more bodies filling more chairs.

With that in mind job seekers, here’s what you missed that may be useful to you on your job hunt!

For someone like myself, who has been to many conferences, chaired or participated on many career-oriented panels—or, as a former member of an academic administration involved in many stages of the faculty search process, the do’s and don’ts presented by the guest speakers seemed like second nature to me. Not so to many of the attendees in the audience. It made for much nervous and cautious laughter!

Presented by Sheila Pepe, Harriet Senie, and David Sokol, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you go through the interview process here at CAA:

• Learn as much as you can about the school you are interviewing for, and its curriculum. Can we say GOOGLE?
• What is their culture?
• Speak in specific, anecdotal, rather than global, terms about your work.
• Ask smart questions, not global questions, about the institution.
• Instead of just selling yourself—listen. What does the institution need to build a better department?
• Do your homework: who are the faculty members & their work? How will your specialty fit into the curriculum?
• Assume an intelligent but uninformed audience when talking about your work during the interview.
• Ask to repeat the question if not understood the first time.
• Wear age-appropriate clothing. (David Sokol used ex: An artist wore an outfit with a light bulb on his head—a definite don’t!) And of course, if you are of a more “mature” age, wearing a mini skirt and mid-drift shirt just won’t fly with most committees nowadays–did they ever?
• Leave them feeling you are perfect for their department and their needs.
• Send a handwritten note after interview.
• The proper mindset: “You only need ONE job.”

• Underline things in your cover letter.
• Call institution about the search.
• Put personal information in application.
• Talk about personal or financial information at the interview.
• Bluff about credentials and knowledge in application.
• Be condescending to the institution.
• Insult interviewer’s intelligence.
• Crash alumni receptions of potential institutions at conferences (including CAA).

The best advice all the panelists gave: MAKE THEM LAUGH!

And if you have not already done so, pick up one of the green CAA Career Services Guides for the 2011 conference. It explains the services available for job seekers and employers alike, including the Candidate Center, the Online Career Center, and the Interview Hall. It also includes additional helpful hints and FAQ for job seekers and Employers.

Posted in CAA, Career Services, Interviews | Comments Off

Getting into the New York Flow

Typically, I’m pretty open to the everyday challenges life in New York throws at you. Before moving back to the slower, quieter San Francisco Bay Area, I fought it out here for seven years. Yet, these past 2 days have been challenging, even for me.

As a blogger, wireless access is essential. However, I’m relegated to just a couple of spots where access is “free,” and find that many, many people have the same idea. My poor, 7-year old computer slows to a crawl from the heavy internet traffic, if I can even find a place to sit down long enough to log on and write. A smartphone, you ask? Maybe an iPad? Or dare I say, pay into the hotel’s wireless service to work anywhere? Ah, only when I’m no longer among the millions of unemployed, and I can actually afford such beautiful devices and services!

In conferences past, my agendas for attendance have been fairly predictable: to present a paper, to chair a panel, to serve as chair of a committee and steer the committee meeting (and make sure it’s session ran smoothly). As a graduate student, it was great to do all this and meet new people. And share a cushy hotel room close to the conference with fellow students, hit the events, the museums, etc. As I moved up the educational administrative and managerial mountain, my institutions paid my hotel bills in exchange for the assistance I provided for the alumni receptions, the hiring committees, etc. One could get used to this level of luxury, as I continued to build upon my CV with more papers, panels, and service.

It all crashed, along with the economy, in 2009.

I have been out of graduate school for a long time. Yet, this year I feel more like a student than ever before. With no institution supporting me, in fact no job at all, it was a difficult decision to even come here this year. My spouse (who is job-hunting here for the first time) and I scraped together airline miles. We are staying with friends in Park Slope, Brooklyn—not an easy trek when sessions start early and events run late. We are even frugal with food—tough in NYC. It’s a fact we knew going in.

Am I happy to be here? Absolutely! With or without fancy electronic devices. Unemployment brings with it an unpleasant and lonely isolation, interpersonally and intellectually. So, while I am finding it stressful at times to be the dutiful blogger, my inner art nerd is definitely being fed, and seeing dear friends and colleagues is filling me with much-needed camaraderie.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Hotels, New York | 1 Comment