We hear the outcries from the streets, from homes, from workplaces, and from our own mouths. Black Lives Matter. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, Rayshard Brooks, and the names and lives of countless others beyond these most recent months will remain in and on our hearts as we speak and act against the systemic and fatal injustices perpetrated against Black bodies.
The world is filled with unrest and unease, and rightfully so. This country is entrenched in centuries of enacting and upholding oppression and marginalization of those without an armful of privilege. Those of us in Academia share particular power which has historically been denied to Black voices on the whole. We have a responsibility to push against this condition and open up space for those voices to be heard and to replace those of white privilege.
The MFA-Interdisciplinary Art Program is reminded of our role to stand up and stand for our community. Below we are re-sharing our mission statement. Before each residency, we return to the mission statement and treat it as a document that is alive – to be changed and clarified, based on what we have learned. It is a document that addresses our intentions, our values, and our expectations of the program as we, and the world, change.
We are dedicated to creating safer spaces for gathering and learning. We are committed to foster communication and collaboration between the different cultures and backgrounds of our community. We all have work to do in the form of actions necessary in the disruption of social and cultural structures that uphold racism in all aspects of our lives. As we continue to shape our program, we actively welcome your feedback and your contributions. We are eager to incorporate your voices.
In the words of Dr. Cornel West, the movement in the streets right now can be understood as “Hope in the form of motion.”
The Masters of Fine Art in Interdisciplinary Art Program at Sierra Nevada University defines itself as a locus for creative problem solving, with an emphasis on community. The experience and exploration of embodied place is central, encouraging students’ intricate relationship with their environment both here in the Tahoe Basin and within their home communities. Embodied place or space can be understood as the location where human experience and consciousness take on material and spatial form.
We support the work of emerging artists who are creating areas of opportunity, both inside communities and within an individual’s understanding of the world. We encourage artistic research into and exploration of subject, place, material, environment, and climate – both literal and cultural. We support students as they challenge preconceived notions about visual culture, borders, and how spaces are delineated. Through an interdisciplinary approach to art-making, the program considers how we engage the material and social worlds of our respective environments, from personal, to political, to planetary.
The low residency format of the MFA-IA includes intensive residency periods housed on SNU’s campus in Lake Tahoe. While off campus, students work full time in their home studios and utilize virtual studio and seminar platforms, combined with personalized mentoring. The faculty consists of a dynamic group of renowned contemporary artists, teachers, and visiting scholars.
The MFA-IA program at SNU offers an alternative to a traditional MFA program, in both structure and philosophy. The academic and artistic ecosystem is defined by a shared environment, both physical and virtual. This environment is created by design to engage a more conscious set of conversations and research-based projects. The program prioritizes the cultivation of a safe space for participants of all backgrounds and identities. The MFA-IA program recognizes the power of language and the dignity and respect that should be afforded to all individuals.
Sierra Nevada University’s MFA-IA program is committed to creating and sustaining an academic environment in which students, faculty, and staff can study and work in an open atmosphere, unhampered by discrimination or harassment of any kind. Sierra Nevada University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that promises diversity and tolerance in all areas of employment, education, and access to its educational, artistic, or cultural activities. Sierra Nevada University does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, religious practices, mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, veteran status, marital or partnership status, or any other legally protected status.