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The MFA in Studio Art (MFAST) is an interdisciplinary low-residency program designed for experienced artists who want to pursue graduate study without disrupting their ongoing careers. The overall program goals and objectives are the same as for the full-time MFA program. This strength of the program is the integration of art practice with critical theory. Unique to the program is its structure. MFAST students complete their graduate studies over three years plus one summer. Each year, students come to MICA for an intensive six-week summer residency combined with independent work during the academic year and a return to campus for a short winter session. During the time that students are not on campus, they keep in touch with their dedicated faculty mentor through distance learning tools. Intensity and length of the program help to create a strong community of peers and a network of visiting artists, critics, and alumni that truly influence the students thinking and practice.

Areas of concentration include the full range of contemporary art practices; students may focus on one specific medium or work across various media. Although the program promotes interdisciplinary approaches to art production students are encouraged to work in ways most appropriate to their individual research.

During the summer, mentors meet weekly with students and stay in touch with the students throughout the year. The first year encourages exploration and experimentation. Gradually, over the course of the next year, a specific course of inquiry begins to take form and the culminating year is spent developing the final body of work for the thesis exhibition. Seminars in Critical Studies complement studio investigations and involve lectures, reading, research, and presentations. These Critical Studies seminars are crucial to helping the students integrate contemporary critical theory with their art practice. Seminar courses, Professional Development and Technology for Artists, are designed to support each artist's career goals and needs. Students also meet with a range of visiting artists, critics, art historians, and curators who present lectures on their work and research.

The fall and spring semesters provide time for reflection and synthesis. This is the time for students to integrate the ideas and insights from the summer into their studio work, research and writing.

Group critiques, discussions with the mentors and visitors, oral presentations, written assignments, and the completion of a thesis statement in the final year will provide means for students to synthesize and clarify their interests and positions and accompany their thesis exhibition. A system of continuous assessment is implemented to assess the work presented at the winter and summer critiques, and gauges the student's year round commitment to both a studio practice and their conceptual inquiry and ambition.

Each candidate is assigned a faculty mentor based on the work submitted for admission. This faculty member mentors the student for the duration of the program. It's a special, long term relationship that gives the student unprecedented attention and dedication by a long time MICA faculty member. Each mentor works with only 8-10 MFAST students. Providing additional consistent yet diverse voices, the four program mentors work together as a team, making themselves available to all the students. More feedback comes from a visiting critic who also meets with the students weekly during the summer. Finally, there is a different visiting artist or critic each week during the summer session as well as during the winter critique.

During the third summer, candidates begin to work with the thesis committee, who sees the student through the process that culminates in a thesis exhibition and program completion. The thesis committee is composed of the faculty mentors for the program.

Individual studios and a broad array of academic resources and facilities are provided for all the students while they are in residence during the summer session. Candidates must develop their own studio facilities for use during the academic year. Exhibition space is provided for group shows and individual thesis shows during the summer.

Students in this three-year, four summer, 60 credit, part-time low residency program will:

  • Attend intensive six-week summer residencies. Return to campus with their artwork for the winter review over the MLK long weekend.
  • Maintain an active independent studio practice throughout the year.
  • Complete the bulk of the reading and writing for the Critical Studies Seminars independently during the academic year.
  • In the fourth summer, present a thesis exhibition of his or her artwork along with an oral presentation that contextualizes each person's research.

Who Should Apply

This low-residency program is intended for a broad range of experienced artists, teachers, and other art professionals who wish to expand their understanding of contemporary art through an engagement with extensive studio practice while developing a conceptual framework for their work.

A portfolio submission for entry is expected to establish each student's suitability for admission to this program. Additionally, the prerequisite for admission is an assessment of those questions that the prospective student wishes to pursue and develop as the core of their practice and research.