Sierra Nevada University
Interdisciplinary Arts
Low-Residency MFA

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WINTER 2021 RESIDENCY
January 4–16

Matt Freedman - Interdisciplinary Performer

Remembering Matt Freedman

It is with deep sadness that we must acknowledge the passing of artist and teacher Matt Freedman this past Saturday, October 24th. Matt was integral in the construction of our MFA program and its interdisciplinary curriculum. Having taught as a visiting professor with us since our very first residency in the summer of 2015, the class that became “Matt’s class” is called simply “Interdisciplinary Practices”. Within it, he challenged our students to drop their preconceived notions of the expectations of a working artist in favor of a practice of asking questions. These questions would be radical and tricky, and all in the interest of what he called, “the messy process of opening up and questioning everything you hold dear.” As he reminded us in the course as well as outside of it, this is a big job, and time is precious so we have to get to work.

Matt’s work and spirit are nothing short of magical and will live on in all who had the privilege of knowing him and learning with him. We are profoundly moved by how he has influenced our program and ourselves. We were lucky enough to have him honor us with one last gift of a lecture for our virtual Summer 2020 residency this past August.

Please enjoy watching and basking in his wonderful presence.

View Lecture

This low-residency MFA Program at SNU uses an interdisciplinary approach to art-making. The program encourages participants to consider how we engage the material and social worlds of our respective environments—from personal, to political, to planetary.

“The unique nature of this program creates unparalleled one-on-one time between students and faculty, extending throughout the year. Rarely have I had the chance to follow the artistic development of students to such a degree. Building sustained relationships with students allows us to develop approaches, toolkits, and points of view, laying the groundwork for making remarkable work far into the future.

Rigorous and independent, site-specific and spread across the globe, community-minded and a thoroughly unique experience, the MFA-IA program at Sierra Nevada University holds untamed multitudes!”

Sameer Farooq, Visiting Faculty

More about the program...

June 2020

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.”

Mission Statement

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.

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MFA-IA

Sierra Nevada College
Interdisciplinary Arts
Low Residency MFA

Location

1008 Tahoe Blvd
Incline Village, NV 89451

Contact

Julia Schwadron
Assistant Program Director
jschwadron@sierranevada.edu
P: (775) 831-1314 ext. 7492

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