Editorial

I will be eternally grateful for my experience here at IAIA. It is true, “The students make up IAIA.” I feel empowered and can see myself continue as a writer and artist.


Whatever path you go down, keep in touch with those you have met here. You never know when you will need their help on a project or show.

May Editorial 2003


By MELANIE CESSPOOCH

We’re down to the wire and my feet are dragging, I’m tired, I’m dehydrated, I can’t think, I need to clean my room, and I need six more hours in a day. I feel like an overworked and unappreciated housewife, or should I say, college-spouse.

I admit I have made a decent living being in school. I got paid with scholarship, honorariums, friends picking up the tab, and learning about my fellow tribal colleagues. I learned something new everyday. I had opportunities, and every door seemed to welcome me in (or is sleep depravation taking over?).

I made friends who I know will be a part of my life from here on. I can’t get over that “It’salmost over.” See, I’m graduating from the Creative Writing BFA program. I feel accomplished, like I really did something because I have a short manuscript to prove it. I can whip that baby out any day and read straight from the hip, stressing the syllables to add feeling, waving my arm to keep attention, adding silences for suspense. I am truly an Indian college graduate. But, then what?

So what! that I made a small dent at IAIA? Next year I won’t even be remembered. Is this what I have gone on and on about? What I have worked hard for, for two years? Do I really want to be remembered? What is a name if not remembered? It’s human nature to want to be remembered. (If it’s not for good deeds, then may the bad take your name from one reservation to the next.)

As an aspiring artist/writer, I would hope to be remembered or at least acknowledged for my small contribution to IAIA. Maybe IAIA should create a plaque board so all the student can write their name on it. Then IAIA can say, “So and so came to school here. We are proud to say they are our alum,” instead of afterwards when the artist has struggled in the world, then finally breaks through that IAIA will say, “He/she was a student at IAIA”¦” and take credit for shaping the artist.

The creative writing program, however, is different because we have been intensely influenced by our instructors. Everyone wave your hands in the air for the Creative Writing program! It is a program that has a true vision for the students because it does make the student into a writer. I have experienced it firsthand.

First you find what you are interested in. Then you expand your ideas into other fields, such as art or photography, or writing in a certain genre or experimentation. Then you find yourself in front of a small audience, presenting yourself and representing your nation. You are rewarded with scholarships and sent to other educational institutions and read in front of larger audiences. It is your voice and your writing that is important. The creative writing program (and museum studies, too) send their students out into the world for real experience and networking.

I will be eternally grateful for my experience here at IAIA. It is true, “The students make up IAIA.” I feel empowered and can see myself continue as a writer and artist.

For new students, my advice is: Make as many friends as possible. Leave those high school jealousies, temper tantrum, and boyfriend/girlfriend snagging ways behind. It will only hinder your progress as an artist. Think of yourself as an artist and NOT a student. Jump at every art opportunity that comes you way.

Remember, it is the art that makes the artist and his/her reputation. Go to class! The hallways and dorms are not that exciting. If they are, drop out and go back home and watch TV! Drink in moderation. Excess drinking kills the brain cells and produces crappy art. Think of every art project as a commission someone might actually buy. If you feel strongly about a topic or subject, express it in every way. Don’t care what other people think unless they’re right. This is your art.

And lastly, call home. Your family and friends are your backbone of support and encouragement.

For graduating students, we have other matters to think about, like now what? Go back home to the rez where there are no jobs? Stay in the city and work for $6.25 an hour, flip burgers, and forget that you even went to college for art or writing? What direction do we travel next? More college? The MFA, or MA, is a short two years away. Get married and have kids? Do we really have that much time on our hands?

Or should we start our own business in art or a career in writing? Become the next tribal governor and continue to be an artist/writer as you create art projects and programs for creative expression? Hmm? I don’t know, but whatever path you go down, keep in touch with those you have met here. You never know when you will need their help on a project or show.

Networking is the name of the game, and then we can make up our own rules.

Good-bye IAIA, Hello World!

Copyright © 2003 IAIA Chronicle


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