The MFA in Visual Art program professionally prepares students in a diversified approach to studio practice in the field of contemporary art. It provides a rigorous and supportive environment for art-making and studio research, facilitated by individual mentoring and group critique. A multidisciplinary program, the MFA in Visual Art welcomes all lines of inquiry: spatial, lens-based, 2-dimensional, interactive, sound, and the performative.
The program culminates in the MFA in Visual Art Thesis: an exhibition of creative work at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, a substantial thesis text, and a professional artist talk.
ABOUT THE MFA IN VISUAL ART CURRICULUM
In the Graduate Studio, students work independently with the guidance of a primary faculty mentor as well as a broad range of other faculty and visitors. Group Critique is the heart of the curriculum. A mix of first- and second-year students meets for rigorous weekly critiques to share new work and engage in lively, constructive discussion. A sequence of required Graduate Seminars engages students in research methodologies and prepares them for professional careers in the arts. MFA-VA students can enroll in Electives across the School and the University that build upon their research interests. Students also participate in Workshops, like Fox Fridays, to build essential technical and professional skills.
See the Curricular Elements section below for details about courses, projects, research, and mentorship.
Credits in Graduate Studio are earmarked for independent artmaking and studio research facilitated by individual mentoring sessions with faculty, faculty mentors, and visiting artist and critics.
The foundation of the MFA-VA experience is the production of artwork in the context of dialogue and critique within a community of peers. 1st and 2nd year MFA-VA students participate in mixed groups, engaging in rigorous peer review of finished work.
Summer Independent Project
During the summer following the first year of study, MFA-VA students create projects supported by independent research. These can be accomplished in the Sam Fox School studios, or by engaging in partnerships or residencies with arts organizations. In alternating years, students have the opportunity to participate in our Sommerakademie in Berlin. Students develop a project proposal in spring of their first year and exhibit their work in the fall.
MFA VA students participate in a minimum of three workshops – defined as one-day experiences that allow students to gain valuable skills in low-risk/low-commitment settings – each semester for their first three semesters
This seminar introduces MFA in Visual Art students to one another, the MFA-VA program, the Sam Fox School, the Kemper Art Museum, the university, and the city of St. Louis. The course includes field trips and introductions to local institutions and builds pathways for cross-disciplinary work.
Professional Practice in Art
How do artists prepare for a meaningful and sustainable life in the arts, now and in the future? This seminar is a hands-on, comprehensive, and speculative approach to life as a professional artist.
Research for Practice
What does it mean to conduct research in the often-indescribable process of art-making? This seminar explores an array of methodologies artists use to engage with content, builds tools for presenting a distinct voice in writing, and assists students in developing a map of their MFA-VA creative work and thesis text.
Thesis + Exhibition Prep
This seminar provides tools negotiating conceptual and practical matters related to the thesis exhibition, facilitates the process of writing the thesis text, and prepares candidates for their thesis artist talks. It also introduces students to key issues in preparing for exhibition in the museum setting.
Students earn elective credits from course offerings across the School and the University including academic courses, studios, or seminars, based on their individual research interests. Electives must be taken at the 300-level or higher and require pre-approval by the program chair.
Faculty Mentors act as guides and advisors, provide feedback and critique, and facilitate the review process. They also serve to model professional responsibility, demystify the graduate school experience, and coach professional development.
All students in the MFA VA program are reviewed at the end of each semester to assess their work and to ensure satisfactory progress through the program, to determine advancement, and ultimately to award the Master of Fine Arts degree.
The master’s thesis in the MFA in Visual Art program has three components: the thesis artwork exhibited at the Kemper Museum, the thesis text, and the artist talk. View past MFA Thesis Texts in Open Scholarship.