Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment | He’s Not Here Right Now

Open Enrollment

Hi Everyone! My name is Olivia and I’m Jeffrey’s imaginary studio assistant. Unfortunately, Jeffrey isn’t here right now because he’s running around the city preparing for his thesis exhibition, but he’s left me with a few bullet points to go over in this blog post. I’m a fabulous writer, a wiz with Photoshop, and I can hold a conversation at a gallery reception without three glasses of wine (which is why he hired me, but I’m also really pretty and I think he has a crush on my brother) so I’ll be sure to keep the essence of his writing intact.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "blindfold and McDowell bat in locked case".  Courtesy the artist.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "blindfold and McDowell bat in locked case." Courtesy the artist.

All across the country, MFA candidates are in the same boat and prepping for the annual Thesis Exhibition Season. Just in the San Francisco Bay Area, some schools participating in the season are SFAI, California College of the Arts, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Mills College. With programs ranging from the very small to the very big, one can’t forget that buried underneath the hoopla of an art show and the promotion for each academic institution’s pedagogy, there lies an anxious student-artist trying to make sense of the past, the future, and the now.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "maquette for OMG".  Courtesy the artist.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "maquette for OMG." Courtesy the artist.

Jeffrey’s pretty lucky to have me around to help him with his artwork, but when it comes to preparing his exhibition space, I wonder if he’s gone overboard. The day starts with his habitual breakfast spread of eggs and bacon, which he likes me to have plated exactly as the opening credits of The View are rolling. He loves Whoopi! After breakfast, he cracks open a can of Pepsi and makes a list of projects to do with Crayola crayons, in rainbow order of importance. “Olivia,” he says, “I’d really like you to finish the yellow project before the green, blue, and purple, because we just can’t go out of rainbow order.” Notice how if there’s a mistake, it’s we?

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "party hats".  Courtesy the artist.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "party hats." Courtesy the artist.

Some project highlights include an acrylic plastic case for a bat and blindfold, a maquette for his exhibition space, and a limited edition of party hats. This next week before the big Preview Party (for collectors, curators, gallerists, and SFAI’s administration), I will be engaged in what Jeffrey calls “the taking of my part of the rainforest.” Postcards, business cards, CVs, artist’s statements, catalogue printouts, and title lists need to be printed to give the air of professionalism and simple promotion. Jeffrey’s even printing out each blog post he’s written for this column just to prove he’s literate. My favorite part of the entire process was coming up with a name for his exhibition space. After much heated dialogue including rigorous citings from Adorno and Bourdieu, we arrived at the perfect title: OMG.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "postcards for OMG".  Courtesy the artist.

Jeffrey Augustine Songco, "postcards for OMG." Courtesy the artist.

In ballet, dancers wait in the wings before a performance, and before the curtain rises, everyone exchanges wishes of luck. It would be bad form to say “good luck” in the theatre. In ballet, it would be even worse form to say “break a leg.” So, the tradition is to say “merde,” which means “shit” in French. So to all the MFA candidates out there prepping for the season, Jeffrey and I say a giant merde to you!  Terminal degree!


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