For Annabel Osberg, it sucks to be 19, and not because fake ID’s are so damn expensive. For the past few weeks, we’ve been covering the story of this art prodigy’s expulsion from Yale’s MFA program. When we last checked in with ProdigyGate, Osberg had just filed a lawsuit against the University, claiming that she was unfairly expelled without proper warning from the Master of Fine Arts program in Painting and Printmaking. According to an article in this week’s Yale Daily News, University officials say there is “no merit” to Osberg’s allegations that Yale considers her “too immature and too young” to receive this terminal degree, despite knowing her age when they accepted her.
Per the YDN, University Spokesman Tom Conroy says that the decision to expel Osbery did not violate any protocols whatsoever. “The Yale School of Art assesses the academic progress of its students carefully and followed its procedures in all respects in making its decision not to promote Annabel Osberg to the second year of the MFA program,” Conroy told the YDN. “We believe that Ms. Osberg’s claims have no merit.”
Osberg’s lawyer hopes to get a hearing on the injunction in late August or early September; Yale has until August 12 to respond to Osberg’s complaint.
Meanwhile, here at IvyGate, we’ve taken matters into our own hands and sat down for an exclusive interview with Annabel Osberg (formerly Y-ART’09) to discuss all this hullabaloo. Read the interview after the jump:
IG: Hey, Annabel. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Can you tell us a little about what it was like for you in the MFA program? How did you get along with the instructors/other students?
AO: Most of my peers were supportive of me. My relationships with other students were very positive. About 93% of the other painting students signed a petition that stated that I made a “fine contribution” to the program and that “it would be unjust and arbitrary to terminate Annabel from the program”. I believe the painting MFA program is rife with favoritism on the part of the faculty that usually has nothing to do with the quality of students’ work. Students who are well-liked by influential faculty members are given many more opportunities (such as awards and trips to visit artists’ studios) than those who are not. Personal partiality can also affect the teachers’ perceptions of students’ work. I think that some of the teachers are not critical of the work of their favorite students, because they do not want to upset them; but the same teachers have no qualms about attacking other students’ work during critiques. I also felt that although the program is Painting/Printmaking, representational painters (such as I am) are held to a higher standard than non-painters who work in other media including video, installation, and others. Students whom the teachers do not like as much can have a difficult time. I never was a disciplinary problem, nor did I do anything to upset any of the teachers, but obviously I wasn’t a favorite.
IG: It seems like the environment was a bit hostile toward your presence–did you ever think about leaving? Why or why not?
AO: No, I never considered leaving. I really wanted my MFA, and I wasn’t about to give up.
IG: We read that you were locked out of your apartment–seriously? They just locked you out? Was this on the last day of class? Was there warning? Sounds bizarre!
AO: My expulsion came in the form of a letter taped to my studio door. At that time, I had not even received my grades for the fall and spring semesters–so I could not have known for sure why I was being expelled. The expulsion letter contained no information as to when I had to vacate my studio or dorm. Since the letter said that I would not be allowed to return the next year, and since students keep their studios for the entire summer, I didn’t think I would be expected to move out until a reasonable amount of time before the next semester began (unless I was later given a date by which to vacate, which I was not.) However, on the afternoon of June 30, my attorney told me that Yale’s attorneys had informed him that I was supposed to be out of my studio by the end of the day, and that I had to vacate my dorm by the next week. Fortunately, my attorney was able to negotiate for an extra week for me to vacate my studio. I was locked out of the building on June 30, before the time given for the lock-out, and had to ask permission to be let in during the next week I was allowed entry. The person who was to let me in was only there during limited hours, making entry very difficult. I wasn’t locked out of my dorm until the next week, so I was able to move, but I barely had time to pack everything into boxes. My belongings were disorganized when placed in storage.
IG: That really sucks. Let’s hope this gets resolved and you can return to Yale soon. Say, in a perfect world, what would you be doing a year from now, as a newly-minted MFA?
AO: Showing my work in New York.