Feedback that's what Janet Hughes gets from the art faculty at Kansas University.
The MFA candidate and teaching assistant worked on her own for several years between teaching at a Kansas City private school. But she says she needed the discipline an MFA program would lend if she were to advance in her art.
"When I was working on my own, I would come up to a problem and either stop or work around it," said Hughes, who will be offering her thesis show this term. "But with the faculty, they would see the problems in the work and tell me to go further, until I solved it. They've made me a better artist.''
HUGHES LIVES in Kansas City and commutes to KU, where she teaches some of the entry-level classes offered in the art department in the School of Fine Arts. Like other MFA candidates, she is required to offer both a show of her work and a written thesis explaining it to get her degree.
In a recent interview, Hughes said she's edging toward a style of painting that combines text, painting and construction to make a feminist statement. She displayed one piece from the upcoming show in a graduate student show last spring; the work promises to be visually witty as well as artistically satisfying.
"I was an English major, so I'm at home with words," Hughes said. "I'm drawing on that for my new work. It also helps me explain what I'm doing in the written portion of the thesis.''
HUGHES HAS worked both in print and in painting; she rents a studio with another artist above a store in the Westport section of Kansas City, Mo. From her vantage point as a member of the Kansas City arts scene, she thinks the art market in the city needs some enhancement.
"This space used to be a gallery that closed," she said in her studio. "A lot of galleries have closed over the last few years. You think they were doing well, and then they close down.''
Hughes holds degrees in English and art education. But to teach at the university level, she needed to return to school. She said the MFA allows her to develop her college-level teaching skills through the assistantship program.
"I try to teach the students the basics of what they're doing, but I'm, also trying to let them develop their own work at whatever level they're working," she said.
HUGHES SAID her thesis show will be held at the intimate Artists En Masse gallery at 803 Mass. Hughes has been featured in a print show at the gallery in 1990. The show is subject to the scrutiny of her thesis committee, which quizzes her on her intentions and eventually gives her a grade and passes her out of the program.
Usually, however, thesis shows are held at the gallery in the Art and Design Building, which is generally open Sundays through Fridays to students and the public. Each year, the art and design department faculties also have a show, wherein teachers lend pieces from their most recent projects for public viewing.