School Watch

The Cooper Union School of Art: More Than a Model of Free Education

When students in the Cooper Union’s School of Art arrive for their freshman year, they know that at the end of their time in the program, four years later, they will present a senior show. This exhibition serves as a capstone to their time at Cooper and an opportunity to announce a first version of [...] Read more

Entire USC First-Year MFA Class is Dropping Out

LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design’s internationally-renowned MFA program is, sorrowfully, over as we have come to know and love it. For most of the past decade, this graduate program has excelled as an exemplary institutional model and major epicenter of pedagogical mentorship, cultural critique, and artistic [...] Read more

De Appel Curatorial Programme: A jump cut interview with three protagonists

Focusing on what Ann Demeester identifies as the “transdisciplinary” nature of curating, the former Director of the de Appel Arts Centre and Curatorial Programme* discusses the importance of the program’s roster of tutors and guest lecturers who specialize in their respective fields as artists, urban planners, philosophers, critics, and curators, to name a few, with [...] Read more

Critical Conditioning: The Institute for Art in Context at Berlin University of the Arts

The Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts in Berlin offers artists and other cultural producers an opportunity to reconsider their creative practices through broader political, social, and economic circumstances. With a combination of theory and practice, the program encourages students to engage with topics ranging from everyday banalities to political [...] Read more

Entering Basel’s Creative Triangle: The Master of Fine Arts at the Institut Kunst

Anyone not closely involved in the art school in Basel might have only noticed in late 2013 that changes were afoot there. For some years there had been noises emerging about a new campus, but in Basel, development seems to be a fact of life, just as one would take it for granted that there [...] Read more

Frankfurt’s Städelschule: Free Artistic Work and the Paradox of Introversion

With a clutch of successful and influential artists on staff, and recent alumni conspicuously present in the art world’s exhibition circuits, Frankfurt’s State Academy of Fine Arts, or Städelschule, is considered by many to be one of the best art schools in Europe, if not beyond. But, like the city itself, which boasts a massive [...] Read more

The Syllabus: A Peer-Led, Non-Prescriptive Postgraduate Alternative

“Networks” and “conversations” are two of the most frequently used words by those describing the Syllabus, a ten-month alternative art education program run by a partnership of six England-wide nonprofit visual arts organizations. Whether it’s the ten artist participants wishing to connect with peers, or the organizations wanting to develop closer and more meaningful relationships [...] Read more

CCC, TRANS, and WORK.Master at Geneva’s HEAD: Intergenerational MFAs of Non-Formatted Curricula

Arriving by train in Geneva from Paris, I was welcomed to the Hotel Adriatic, a charming, unassuming hotel where many of the visiting guests and teaching faculty of HEAD, Geneva’s University of Art and Design (Haute École d’art et de design), often meet over the breakfast table when lodging there in the city. One regular [...] Read more

Kunstakademie Karlsruhe: A Classical Education with Contemporary Artists

A heavy set of keys in hand, I walked through the sculpture studios into the Kunstakademie’s garden, surprised by the location of my accommodation in Karlsruhe. By the streetlights, I could make out a repository of abandoned sculptural endeavours, some classical stone carvings overgrown with ivy, some recent experiments in new materials lying between trees. [...] Read more

Embracing Inquiry at the Piet Zwart Institute Master of Fine Art

On October 18 2012, Vivian Sky Rehberg, then eight months into her tenure as course director of the master fine art program at the Piet Zwart Institute, gave a talk titled “Deschooling/Deskilling” at a packed auditorium shared by TENT Rotterdam and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art. The audience gathered there was anxious to [...] Read more

Considering Tradition, and the Election, at Yale University School of Art

One tepid evening last March, during my penultimate semester of graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was trotted out to a student mixer with the university’s donors. There, I was introduced to a former automotive executive, and after informing him of my plans to pursue a doctorate in art history, he skeptically asked an [...] Read more

Not for Sale: The Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works

On November 19 and 20, the inaugural Alternative Art School Fair assembled more than fifty international organizations at Pioneer Works, the art and cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Organized by Pioneer Works’s Catherine Despont, artist Dylan Gauthier, and Paris Biennale director Alexandre Gurita, the fair offered participants the opportunity to exchange resources and ideas [...] Read more

Practice Makes Perfect: The MFA at Glasgow School of Art

Perched on a swivel chair in the small, utilitarian office shared by the program’s five staff members, John Calcutt, program leader of Glasgow School of Art’s Master of Fine Art, is carefully, thoughtfully, and with good humor considering the strengths of the course he has worked on in various capacities since its inception in 1988. [...] Read more

Reassembling Time: The Alternative Pedagogy of Mildred’s Lane

Standing in front of the unfinished Alchemist’s Shack with artist and Mildred’s Lane codirector J. Morgan Puett, I realized that some things can take forever. An art installation-cum-habitation, the shack has been a work in progress for Puett, artist and codirector Mark Dion, artist Robert Williams, and the countless participants who have visited Mildred’s Lane [...] Read more

The Royal College of Art: Expanding Tradition at the “Best Art School in the World”*

What Kind of Art Education [Today]?[1] When founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design, the Royal College of Art initially focused on industrial design. Its mandate: to train future tradespeople, such as textile and ceramics workers, in the techniques of art and design as a means to improve British industry, which lagged behind [...] Read more

Structural Integrity: Rooted Idealism at SFAI

It’s apropos that the first person I interview for a profile on the San Francisco Art Institute’s MFA program is Jeff Gunderson, who has been the Special Collections librarian and archivist at SFAI since 1981. To get a sense of the MFA’s ethos and history, everyone—from administrators to students and alumni—tells me, start by talking [...] Read more

Outside the Art World’s Regimes: The MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art

John Waters’s 1998 film Pecker, a raucous satire of the New York art world, follows the rise to fame of an unassuming eighteen-year-old Baltimore photographer. After a dealer from the fictional Rory Wheeler Gallery happens upon Pecker’s debut exhibition at The Sub Pit in Hampden, the young artist is thrust into Manhattan’s cultural spotlight and [...] Read more

SOMA: A Case Study in Artist-Run Education

In January 2012 I was a curatorial resident at SOMA, a unique hybrid of an artist-run space, visual arts school, residency program, and discursive platform located in the neighborhood of San Pedro de los Pinos in Mexico City. During my month-long stay, in which I met with students and reviewed their portfolios, conducted studio visits [...] Read more

Beyond the Critique: Goldsmiths College

A typically gray London afternoon in October and I’m late for class. It’s been a while since I traveled to New Cross, having completed a Master in Research (MRes) in Visual Culture at Goldsmiths in 2013. With the sprawl of this inimitable city, it’s never a quick journey to travel to the different corners of [...] Read more

Inside the Creative Factory: The MFA at the Zurich School of the Arts (ZHdK)

The Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK, Zurich School of the Arts) is to be found within a monolith on an arterial road heading northwest from Zurich city. This imposing structure is called the Toni-Areal, and when the ZHdK moved in last year it became what is known as the “biggest creative factory in Switzerland.” The [...] Read more

Agile Development: Being Nimble at California College of the Arts

One bright September afternoon in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, I found myself sitting at an orange picnic table on a vacant lot the size of several football fields. It might be one of the most valuable empty lots in the United States. Located just below the South of Market neighborhood, the ground [...] Read more

In Theory: Art Center College of Design and a Few Notes on Art Schools in Southern California

In Los Angeles, you’re always getting off freeways. The 110 disgorges onto South Arroyo Parkway, and there to the left is the South Campus of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Better known for the flowers and football of its Rose Parade/Bowl than anything else, the suburban city of Pasadena is a wealthy [...] Read more

Collective Evolution, Inside and Out: CSUSB Community-based Art

Today, roughly 2.2 million people are behind bars in the United States, an increase of 1.9 million since 1972. We have the world’s largest prison population—with one-quarter of its prisoners but just 5 percent of the total population … It’s a system marred by vast racial disparities—one that stigmatizes and targets young black men for [...] Read more

Top-Notch, Top Dollar: Columbia University School of the Arts MFA Program

Columbia’s visual arts MFA program is so synonymous with the New York art world that it’s nearly impossible to discuss one without looping in the other. At perhaps the height of its visibility in the early 2000s, by some accounts 20 percent of the artists in PS1’s 2005 “Greater New York” exhibition held advanced degrees [...] Read more

Critical Mass at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) emerged at a critical moment in the development of two American civic institutions: the museum and the university. In 1872, the school initiated a program of collecting art to further its mission of art education, a purpose [...] Read more

VCUarts: Training for the Global Art World

“I’m broke as fuck and have been homeless for four months.” Tinged with desperation and saturated with reality, this is how Clifford Owens prefaced his recent artist’s lecture cum performance at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts (VCUarts). Visiting faculty in the Sculpture + Extended Media department, Owens would seem to embody post-MFA success: [...] Read more

Saving the Maker, Cultivating the Thinker: Painting at RISD’s MFA Program

When I was an undergrad in RISD’s painting program in 2006, my TA, a second-year MFA student, insisted that she would never begin a painting until she had applied, sanded, more finely sanded, and reapplied her ground at least fifteen times if not twenty or more, each time sanding the thickening layers of gesso or [...] Read more

Rutgers: The MFA That’s Not 100k

Having finished undergrad with a bill totaling over one hundred thousand dollars at the dawn of the financial crisis, I’ve been desperately and embarrassingly broke since 2008. I’ve worked dead-end retail jobs, ridden out unemployment, and moved back in with my parents during art world off-seasons just to be an art critic. Was it worth [...] Read more

Reassembling Art Pedagogy: Pragmatism, Inquiry, and Climate Change at SciencesPo Experimentation in Arts and Politics (SPEAP)

Bridging the social sciences, politics, and the arts, SciencesPo Experimentation in Arts and Politics (SPEAP) is positioned at the crossroads of the disciplines, as one could define the work of its founding father—French philosopher Bruno Latour. Created in 2010 on behalf of Latour and collaborator Valerie Pihet at SciencesPo Paris, this highly selective multidisciplinary program [...] Read more

“Making Sense is Radical to Making Art”: The Bard MFA

On the way up to Bard College from Brooklyn this past July, I received my first-ever speeding ticket (73 in a 55 on the bucolic, two-laned, and well-patrolled Taconic State Parkway). Five days later, the night before I was to exit the bubble that is Bard back for the city, I ran over a nail [...] Read more

Sunstroked and Rigorous: Some Notes on CalArts

Some Notes on CalArts ANDREW BERARDINI   My car peeled off the freeway on one of the last exits before the 5 climbs into the treacherous Grapevine and through the dull fields and cow factories of the Central Valley en route to Sacramento. Surface roads as fast and wide as highways ribbon out from the [...] Read more

Re-skilling and rehousing an MFA: Hunter’s recent transformation

Less than a year after the appointment of new chair Howard Singerman, a major relocation to 205 Hudson Street in Tribeca, and significant changes in administration and faculty, Andrew Cappetta considers Hunter College’s recent transformation in light of its rich history of graduate art education—one which isn’t readily acknowledged by the broader art world nor [...] Read more

School Watch presents distilled perspectives on degree programs in the arts, with interviews, critical texts and editorial exposés on MFAs, Masters, Doctorates and certificate programs in fine arts, art history, curatorial, cultural and film studies, and other related areas of specialty.

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