Low Residency Program
These studio-based Master of Fine Arts degree programs are intended to broaden and advance the conceptual, critical, historical, and practical knowledge needed to sustain a contemporary studio. The programs have been designed to meet the needs of artists holding BFA or BA degrees who are interested in pursuing an MFA in either Ceramics, Painting, or Sculpture within a time frame that accommodates their employment or academic year schedule.
Departing from the traditional semester format, students enter this three-year program in summer and complete the major portion of their work during three annual eight-week summer residencies of intensive, individually focused studio experience. In addition to exploration in the major, students pursue interdisciplinary investigations in studio topics common to each discipline and address contemporary critical issues and methodology in University graduate seminars.
During the fall and spring semesters, students complete independent studios, writing and research projects, and independent thesis preparations. Regional students maintain contact with studio faculty and present studio work at specific intervals throughout the off-campus semester and at final critiques held at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Non-regional students meet with assigned studio mentors in their geographic region for concurrent periodic and final critiques of in-progress and completed work. Off-campus writing and research projects are completed via mail or email communication with seminar faculty. A final thesis review and exhibition is held following completion of the third summer.
Please note that students enrolled in the Summer MFA program do not qualify for student visas as a result of the structure of the program, and therefore, the programs are unfortunately closed to international students who need a visa in order to attend.
Studios and Facilities
During residence at the University, summer MFA students enjoy access to well-equipped studios and facilities that support work undertaken in each discipline. These include: dedicated painting studios, three major gas kilns with 90, 40, and 30 cubic foot capacity, numerous electric kilns, wood and metal shops, carving studios, a forge, and foundry. Students are expected to locate off-campus studio space for work undertaken during the fall and spring independent studio semesters. In addition, students have access to the University’s extensive facilities that include the Greenfield Library, whose visual arts collection ranks among the largest of the nation’s visual art schools; state-of-the-art academic computing laboratories; numerous galleries and performance spaces; and the more than 100 museums and cultural institutions that comprise the extended campus of the city of Philadelphia. The cultural resources of New York and Washington, D.C., are only hours away.
Students will be challenged by the broadly diverse aesthetic and critical opinions of distinguished studio faculty and noted visiting artists and critics who are invited to participate in the program each summer.
Recent visiting artists and critics have included: Siah Armajani, Barry Bartlett, Jose Bedia, Paul Bloodgood, Tom Butter, Syd Carpenter, William Daley, Arthur Danto, Heidi Fasnacht, Ellen Harvey, Sharon Horvath, Komar and Melamid, Janet Koplos, Sean Landers, Winifred Lutz, Allan McCollum, Dominique Nahas, Thomas Nozkowski, Lisa Orr, Sheila Pepe, Howardena Pindell, Elaine Reichek, Dario Robleto, Kathy Rose, Annabeth Rosen, Sandy Skoglund, Lizbeth Stewart, Robert Storr, Stephen Tanis, Nato Thompson, George Trakas, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Leslie Wayne, and Paul Winokur.
Summer MFA candidates are expected to follow the curriculum as structured in order to complete the program within three years and present a final thesis exhibition following the completion of the third summer.
Prior to the final Spring Year I semester critique and before Summer Year II begins, first year students present the work completed during Spring Year I to the MFA faculty at the Continuation Critique to evaluate the student’s progress during the first year of the program and to determine the student’s readiness to undertake Summer Year II and the Thesis Qualifying Critique at the conclusion of Summer Year II. The student is advised accordingly if the faculty determine the student is not ready to proceed.
At the end of Summer Year II, each student presents the work completed during Summer Year II to the faculty to evaluate their progress and determine their readiness to undertake the Thesis Preparation year. The student is advised accordingly if the faculty determine the student is not ready to proceed.