The existential dread of making (or not making) art takes center stage in this trenchant satire of MFA culture
Wendy is an aspiring contemporary artist whose adventures have taken her to galleries, art openings, and parties in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Toronto. In Wendy, Master of Art, Walter Scott’s sly wit and social commentary zero in on MFA culture as our hero decides to hunker down and complete a master of fine arts at the University of Hell in small-town Ontario.
Finally Wendy has space to refine her artistic practice, but in this calm, all of her unresolved insecurities and fears explode at full volume—usually while hungover. What is the post-Jungian object as symbol? Will she ever understand her course reading—or herself? What if she’s just not smart enough? As she develops as an artist and a person, Wendy also finds herself in a teaching position, mentoring a perpetually sobbing grade-grubbing undergrad.
Scott’s incisively funny take on art school pretensions isn’t the only focus. Wendy, Master of Art explores the politics of open relationships and polyamoury, performative activism, the precarity of a life in the arts, as well as the complexities of gender identity, sex work, drug use, and more. At its heart, this is a book about the give and take of community - about someone learning how to navigate empathy and boundaries, and to respect herself. It is deeply funny and endlessly relatable as it shows Wendy growing up from Millennial art party girl to successful artist, friend, teacher—and Master of Art.