It may seem like a strange thing to hear from a forty year old that she is still in school. Maybe less strange in this day and age, but still. Working towards my Bachelor of Fine Art has been an ongoing project for about three years. It’s something I wish I had done when I was younger, and had more time, of course. But life is random, you know? My path was always there, just hard to see.
And now, all I want to do is learn more. I want to absorb as much as I can about art and painting and colour. So, here I am. So far, I have taken six courses, out of about 25 I have to complete to actually get my degree. It seems like such a small dent so far. It’s easy to get discouraged some days, but I really want this. I not only want to have the piece of paper, because that’s what kind of world we live in now. But I also want to learn. I’m totally obsessed with art and I want to learn everything I can about it. From the mechanics of art making to art history, I want to learn it all! Maybe one day I could even turn that around and teach, you never know. The possibilities are endless, really. And if I have to do it two courses a year, so be it.
When I was younger, and yes, dumber, I thought I would never really need school. I am a high school drop out mostly because I wanted to make money more than I wanted that diploma. I have since gone back to college, here in Whitehorse, and upgraded. I got my GED and I took the Accounting Clerk certification they offer here. My dear friend Jenn and I did it together, actually. Our ultimate goal, of course was never to be accounting clerks forever. It was so we could have cushy government jobs, making decent money, while pursuing the things we really wanted to do but could never afford working in retail sales. Jenn wanted to travel. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I have realized in the last twenty or so years, that there is some value to having that piece of paper. It’s hard to find a job above entry level without one, but that’s not the only reason I want one. I want to be taken seriously. I want this degree to be my jumping off point to a real lifetime of art related learning. I have a dream, albeit so far off into the future it’s silly, that maybe one day, kids can learn art here, in the North and not have to leave to get a degree. I know that’s a long shot, but I mean if I’m dreaming, right?
There are few opportunities to earn an official degree in Fine Art in the Yukon. There is a small program, Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA), in Dawson City, but it only offers the first year of a BFA. Then you have to leave. And it’s in Dawson. While I love Dawson, there should really be something available here in the capital city.
There is also the alternative school here in Whitehorse, for teens from Grade 8 to 12. It’s called MAD, and stands for music, art and drama. I was actually in this program the first year they ran it. Unfortunately, the “art” part really means set decoration and costume design. And while those are noble artistic pursuits, for sure, but it would be nice if there was more colour theory and art history. It’s a great opportunity for kids who are in music and drama, and they also have streams that include learning outdoor skills. I think having this program is beneficial for kids who know they don’t want to go the normal academic route. When I was in it, the only reason I showed up was because it was not a regular high school environment.
We are truly lucky in the Yukon. Considering our population, we have a great college, Yukon College, that offers many programs, including the trades. We have MAD and SOVA for those first steps. But a real art college, maybe with a degree program, would be amazing here. I would have gone to art school away, and was supposed to go to Comosun College at one point in my wasted youth. But to have something here for Yukoners, or even a place where artists from around the world could come and participate in residencies, well, that would be a dream, wouldn’t it?