Rebecca Ora


If you really want to learn all about failure, then Jeanne C. Finley offers seminar called “Failure” at San Francisco’s California College of the Arts (CCA). Appropriately so, FailureMag reports in their interview with Finley

  • “There is no such thing as a mistake. There is no evaluation of the students’ work either, at least not in the traditional academic sense. To be sure, enrollees aim to create well-received art, but instead of focusing on what they’ve done well, students are expected to examine and discuss the ways in which their efforts failed, in hopes of creating or learning something new and unexpected.”
  • “If the concept sounds vague and ungrounded—not to mention decidedly anti-academia—that’s because it is. And at first, Finley wondered if the pass-fail seminar—labeled FINAR604: Failure in the school’s course catalog—was destined to live up to its name. Recalling a downright disastrous first day of class this past semester she says, “I have never felt so devastated in all my years of being a [media arts] professor.” But Finley—along with five intrepid students—stuck with the program, and it ‘turned out to be the most successful seminar I’ve ever taught,’ she reports.”
  • “Rebecca Ora, one of the five students who completed last spring’s seminar, is certainly cognizant of the problem, saying, “In terms of being an artist, failure is always on your mind. And in terms of society’s gauge of success, if you’re an artist the odds are stacked against you.” So it’s apropos that Finley’s seminar forces enrollees to confront artistic failure head-on. Anyway, “much of the work completed in graduate school falls short of being highly successful,” notes the course description, clearly implying that students ought to take the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Hence the requirement that students display their class work publicly, and also post it online at Michael Fallon’s Chronicle of Artistic Failure in America (“Where all creative intentions go to die”). It’s a potentially humbling and traumatic experience for twenty-something’s still developing their artistic skills and personal style, but it can be a revelation in terms of opening new creative doors.”

I posted one of student Rebecca’s ‘failure’ pieces from her Chronicle posting above.  I also love the idea of such a course on embracing failure being graded ‘Pass/Fail’…seems like an Win/Win to me.