The MFA-IA program at SNU consists of two intensive 10-day on-campus residencies during summer and winter sessions over 2.5 years. During the fall and spring semesters, students work from their home studios, continuing relationships with faculty mentors and colleagues via email, online seminars, and other social media.
The program is specifically geared towards people with active lives outside of school. While we are still a full-time program, we consciously designed the 10- day residencies with the notion that not everyone can take off for an entire summer or multiple weeks at a time. We know that dedicated, talented, and driven artists and thinkers have children, jobs, or other responsibilities that make it difficult to commit to a conventional on-ground MFA program. We continue to listen and hone our program to be sensitive to the needs of contemporary artists today.
During each 10-day residency, students take a variety of classes. The courses range from studio practice to critical theory, challenging notions of site, context, and installation. Students and faculty spend portions of residency time on campus at Lake Tahoe, as well as time off-campus. Off-campus sites have included Sagehen Creek Research Station and St. Mary’s Art Center. Students begin working on readings and small assignments as early as a month before the start of residency. Due to the intense nature of the low-residency structure, students come prepared to work long days and get the most out of the time together. Outside of coursework, students have access to open studio time, conversation and critique time, as well as opportunities to explore the area. As a result, days are long and productive. Both students and faculty feel that this intense and immersive experience yields exciting and unpredictable results.
Between residencies, students return to their home studios to focus on their studio practice. As a supplement to this, they participate in one-on-one mentorships with an assigned faculty member. Each semester’s mentor guides them through this process. Additionally, students participate in an online seminar with the rest of their peers. The seminar, which varies in topic each semester, maintains the connection between classmates until they meet again in person.
The MFA-IA program schedule supports people with active lives outside of school. While we are a full-time program, we consciously designed the 10-day residencies knowing not everyone can take off for an entire summer or multiple weeks at a time. In addition, we know that dedicated, talented, driven artists and thinkers have children, jobs, or other responsibilities that make it difficult for them to commit to a conventional on-ground MFA program.
We distinguish ourselves through our emphasis on “place” as a central subject of inquiry. We fold in the concept of “low-residency,” not just as a convenient model but rather as a fundamental principle of moving through today’s world. What can groups of like-minded but geographically distant artists create together? How can we activate the hunger to explore a mode of understanding via location and fuel multi-tiered inquiries?