When I left Romania I had completed the studio hours and course work for my MFA at the National Arts University of Bucharest, and my advisor had approved my thesis. I needed to do the oral presentation of my thesis, for which I was totally prepared. The painting department was convening to hear the presentations on the same day the Queen Mary sailed. I couldn't get Cunard to change their schedule, nor would the painting department change theirs. My advisor assured me that I could come back the following the February when the painting department reconvened and do my presentation.
In January I asked my advisor when I should come for the presentation. I was shocked when he told me that I needed to send him more paintings.
For a semester I sent more paintings. As the next semester started, I asked when I could come do my presentation. He said I need to send more paintings. At least ten more.
In the U.S. once you have checked the boxes, you are done and you get a diploma.
I contacted a member of my class still in Bucharest and, with embarrassment, told her about my situation. I was shocked that she was in the same situation along with a number of other members of my cohort. Our advisor gives us no advice beyond, "more paintings." Members of my class were so outraged by him withholding our diplomas that they contacted the Ministry of Education. The Minister said that since our advisor is not only the head of the painting department, but also the rector of the university, we have no recourse.
I contacted the person at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest who helped me get into the program, and she hasn't found a way to help me. I really don't like how it looks like he's waiting for a bribe. Since I'm the only American whose ever done the program, I'm so, so disappointed at my inability to finish and get my diploma, and also, there's no one to ask for advice.
I'm happy to report that some of my class members who were "held back" did have a show in January and did receive their diplomas. Meanwhile, I'm going on the second year of "more paintings." I'm now on number nine, but I think at least four of those he's not going to consider. I had to do nine to get to six. So I'm part way there. When I thought I was long finished. Not that I mind painting, but still, it seems so unfair, and just, weird.
I skipped kindergarten, but I'm now on the third year of my two year MFA program. Peter is my biggest cheerleader and I love him so much for his support. He doesn't mind me smelling up the living room/art studio with turpentine; he says,"You're doing it!"
Those of us who weren't awarded their diplomas are constantly going through all the stages of grief. Bewilderment, anger, bargaining. I'm not quite to acceptance yet.
So I paint.