The Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art is a terminal degree that prepares students to become professional artists, work in any number of art related fields, and teach at the college level. To achieve these goals the program uses to complimentary educational traditions: the professional artist’s tradition, which requires mastery of the skills, tools and technologies of the visual arts; and the liberal arts tradition, which requires education in the truest sense, not only imparting facts and ideas, but also fostering critical appraisal of them.
The MFA is a 60-credit program normally completed in two years. It combines 48 credits of studio experience with 12 credits of seminar and discussion based coursework. The program culminates in a graduate thesis exhibition, an oral defense of the exhibition, and a written thesis document that supports and gives cultural and theoretical context to the exhibition.
The program is studio intensive and the Memphis College of Art offers a supportive and fertile environment with the goal of developing artistic practices that contribute in a significant manner to contemporary culture. The program emphasizes a generalist and interdisciplinary approach to artmaking in both traditional and new media. The goal of this approach is to foster the consideration and interconnectedness of the social, cultural, and physical context of art works as a central element to interpretation rather than leaving the interpretation within a fixed media approach. The MFA enrollment is generally 15-20, which is small enough for individual attention yet large enough for a critical mass of graduate students.
Graduate Students are encouraged to work in any medium which best expresses their concepts, including but not limited to the traditional studio and new media practices of drawing, painting, sculpture, small metals, book arts, photography, printmaking, surface design, installation, animation, performance, and video. As the concepts and intention of the work changes, the medium can be expected to change as well.
Graduate students will support their independent studio inquiries with seminar-based coursework in issues of History, Theory, and Criticism. These courses will assist the graduate students in directing their visual and critical investigations and provide a basis for the written thesis document.