Kyle Stephen McQuilkin
How did you get into debt?
My current debt includes a home mortgage, a defaulted credit card, a home improvement loan, and personal loans from family and friends. However, the vast majority of it is related to educational costs. I carry student loans for an MA and PhD, and also credit card debt related to school expenses. My bicycle, "The Fourth Rider of the Apocalypse," (image attached) was built pursuant and integral to my doctoral research on lowrider bicycles and I incurred considerable expense associated with its fabrication and national exhibition. I completed my PhD in 2009, at the height of the recession, complicating my employment options and compounding my debt.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
My economic reality entirely cripples my art. My materials are expensive and my full-time teaching minimizes my available free time. The stress of my debt compounds my creative angst, and I am still reeling from having to give up my dream of self employment in the arts.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
My decision to return to the middle school classroom is in large part dictated by my astronomical student loan debt. By teaching at a public school for 10 years and making timely payments under the Income Based Repayment plan, my loans will be forgiven, in entirety. Other options, such as museum work, typically do not pay well enough to cover my expenses and competition for those positions is enormous. The poor market value of my PhD limits my attractiveness to government jobs, and I refuse to perpetuate the cycle of nontenured lecturer or adjunct instructor while simultaneously feeding higher education's income-driven over production of MFAs and PhDs in the arts. I am behind on my mortgage and other debts, so I have been forced to sell my home to access my equity for bills. Otherwise, I was building a business at artisanal masonry repair and sculpture.