During the non-residency term, students return to their home studios where they actively pursue their art practice under mentorship of a qualified local Artist-Teacher and, through correspondence, receive academic guidance on a research project in visual culture from a Faculty Advisor throughout the semester.
The studio component is the heart of the program. During the semester, students complete a 12-credit Studio Project in their own studios, using the media and method of their choosing. Students are guided toward moving their practice forward, designing a project that will challenge them to meet new artistic goals. The trajectory of this work follows a study plan developed with an Artist-Teacher, who is chosen by the student and approved by the program. The faculty can facilitate a connection to an artist with particular expertise or sensitivity that coincides with the student’s interests and individual sensibility. The strength of the exchange between student and Artist-Teacher is one of the highlights of the student’s experience and a significant contributing factor in her/his growth. Students are encouraged to take risks, pushing the boundaries of their practice and inquiring deeply into their intent, aesthetic choices, subject matter, and subject position. In critical dialogue with their mentors, students strive to effectively integrate form and content. Experimentation and exploration are highly valued. The development of two years of studio work enables students to define and own their art practice such that they can leave the program attuned to who they are as artists and why they make the work they do.
VISUAL CULTURE PROJECT
Together with a faculty member who has interdisciplinary expertise in art history, visual culture, and critical theory, each student also designs a three-credit academic Visual Culture Project. These individualized studies address the student’s specific artistic interests and needs. Students design their own research regimen, write critical papers, and correspond regularly with their faculty advisor throughout the semester.
In the final semester, in lieu of a research paper, each student writes a final thesis or Process Paper. By examining their experience in the program, including an appraisal of work completed while in the program, they create a statement of reinvented professional purpose and expectation. Students situate their work and themselves in the larger cultural conversations of our time, with reference to the social context, contemporary culture, and history of ideas.
Some Examples of Previous Visual Culture Project Titles
- Who Do You Think I Think I Am: Studies in Appearance, Subjectivity, and Identity
- The Stroke: An Investigation of Gestural Painting Processes
- Parody and Pathos in American Narrative Cinema
- The Abject and the Sublime of Livestock Existence
- Feminist Artists in Art: Relationships of Mothers and Daughters
- History of Cosmetic Surgery
- Perched: Concerning the Bird in Art
“What I expected from grad school were reading assignments and reports. What I didn't expect was the intense, introspective review of my life and work. Why do I make art? For whom? What moves and motivates me? These were difficult questions—perhaps questions I was afraid to ask myself—but these were the questions that I needed more than any book or report (although there were plenty of those). It wasn't easy and it wasn't always fun, but it was one of the most pivotal moments in my life and essential to my work which has grown and matured in ways I could never have imagined.” Robert O’Connor, MFAV Alumnus