Kimmie Pledger received her BFA in Jewelry/Metals/Enameling from Kent State in 2014. She is now in her second year at Bowling Green State University working toward her MFA in Jewelry and Metals.
Tell us about your work.
Latex gloves are the foundation of my current exploration of alternative materials in combination with metalwork. As I deconstruct the glove it becomes unrecognizable, forcing the viewer to see it in a new way. I am interested in the power of protection inherent in both metal and gloves. The pieces become performative as the gloves begin to dry out, making the viewer aware of the ephemerality of the glove and the permanence of the metal.
The different forms I create leave the viewer curious how these transformations were made. This includes both the transformative process of metalsmithing and the transformation of the gloves through abstraction. The use of alternative materials in combination with metal allows me to work in new processes that surprise the viewer, and myself.
What were the major reasons you decided to attend an MFA program?
I chose to attend an MFA program to further the exploration of my work. It has been extremely valuable learning from new professors. I think you can be a successful artist without an MFA, but I have always loved academia. There are so many intelligent professors at Bowling Green who give me valuable insight into my work and help me to grow as an artist. I also want to be a professor so getting an MFA will allow me that opportunity.
What were the major factors that led you to choose the MFA program you’re currently attending?
During my search, I toured and met with several schools’ Jewelry/Metals MFA programs. Bowling Green was the last school I visited. I instantly loved the studio. It is important to feel comfortable in a studio and the set-up reminded me of my undergrad studio at Kent State.
I connected instantly with Tom Muir and Andrew Kuebeck, the faculty at Bowling Green. They were welcoming and very thorough when explaining the program. They showed me some of their students’ artwork as well as their own. I have a metals background but currently work in alternative materials – I knew it was a school where I could further my technical skills, but also felt I had a lot to contribute with my work. In addition, the program gives you the chance to teach in your second year, which was important for me.
What is your best piece of advice for applicants when choosing a program?
My advice is to visit the school and meet with the faculty in person. Doing so is the only way to know if you click with the professors and feel that it is the best place for you and your work to grow. You find out a lot more information by interviewing than you can find out online. Also, you will make an impression by going to interview – they want to meet you, too!
Describe a typical day in your life as an MFA student.
Each semester is different. Last year I had 20 hours of studio tech work each week, and this year I am teaching a 3D workshop Mondays and Wednesdays. I also take 15-18 credits each semester, which involves a critique class, art history, advanced metals, theory and individual work credits. A typical day involves waking up, getting a coffee, going to my first class and then doing homework and artwork in between classes. I have early classes along with night classes. My days are pretty long. On the weekends I spend my time in the studio. Time is precious.
What do you enjoy most about being an MFA student? What is your greatest struggle?
I enjoy the large amount of feedback, sense of community and being able to teach. Bowling Green has a fairly small graduate program and my critique class consists of about fifteen people. Many of them work in different media so that makes for diverse feedback during critiques. I love teaching. It is also a struggle but it is a learning process. I am shy by nature, but I am not as nervous as a thought I would be when teaching.
My greatest struggle has been time management. In grad school you want to make as much work as possible – you won’t get through ideas if you don’t go through series of works. I learned this the hard way. Eventually, you get in the groove of things and find your balance.
What is your best piece of financial advice for potential and/or current MFA students?
I don’t recommend getting a job while you are in grad school – there just isn’t time. I took out a loan but that isn’t always the way to go. Work hard to make and save money before you start school. Once grad school started, I began making work to sell over the summer, Christmas break, spring break, etc. An Etsy shop is great way to earn money. Use your studio access to your advantage to create work to sell, but concentrate on your grad work first.
What are your career plans following grad school? How do you feel your degree has helped facilitate your plans?
My goal is to be a jewelry professor. Bowling Green’s graduate program has been helpful to reaching my goal in so many ways. The classes concentrate on helping you with your artist statement, writing a resume and cover letter correctly, and more. In the Jewelry and Metals program, Tom Muir and Andrew Kuebeck have helped me improve my technical skills. They always mention upcoming shows to enter and workshops to attend to help us build our résumés. Also, teaching a 3D class is a great learning experience that the program offers, and it is helpful to add to my résumé for future teaching positions.
Is there anything else you’d like to add to assist prospective and current MFA students?
Do not to compare yourself to other people. There are always going to be people who are better than you, and people who come up with ideas faster than you. Focus on yourself and your own work. Stay determined and remember why you are there. Be prepared to be stressed. Enter a lot of shows, and know that you will be rejected many times before you are accepted. Make a large amount of work because there is a good chance you won’t have a large studio after school, and that will be the work you have to enter into shows for a while. Drink coffee! Work hard!