March 19, 2018

Meditations in an Emergency: Writing about Art in New York City

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

Courtesy of MFA Art Writing, SVA.

My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind—without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos. Interest alone gives accent and emphasis, light and shade, background and foreground intelligible perspective, in a word.

—William James

A two-week intensive for writers, artists, and curators of all levels and backgrounds interested in gaining in-depth experience of art writing. Ten full days will be spent examining individual art works in New York City’s incomparable collections—including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Frick Collection, and the New Museum—as well as visiting exhibitions in Chelsea and the Lower East Side. Daily writing exercises and assignments will focus on a wide array of art, from contemporary to ancient, emphasizing direct observation and imaginative description. We will also have individual workshops with poets to explore different forms of writing and take studio visits with New York artists, for a more complex understanding of art today. Group discussions will focus on selected readings of exemplary art writing taken from criticism, poetry, philosophy, and theory, as well as analyzing each other's work. Every student will leave with a portfolio of writing, to be assembled in a class zine. No prior experience necessary—all you need are eyeballs, an open mind, and a sense of adventure.

Jarrett Earnest is the author of the forthcoming book What it Means to Write about Art: Interviews with Art Critics (David Zwirner Books, fall 2018). He co-edited the volumes TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail (with Lucas Zwirner; David Zwirner Books, fall 2017) and FOR BILL, ANYTHING: Words and Images for Bill Berkson (with Isabelle Sorrell; Pressed Wafer, 2015). From 2014-2017 he was faculty at the free experimental art school Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU) and has been the critic-in-residence at the LeRoy E. Hoffberger school of painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art (fall 2017, spring 2016).

Priority deadline: April 1, 2018 (applications will continue to be accepted after that, space permitting).

Tuition for 2018 is 2,000 USD.

Tuition covers use of the facilities, instruction, guest lecturers, field trips and lab fees for the duration of the program. Worth 2 undergraduate credits.

To apply, or for further information visit here or contact artwriting [​at​]

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