Beginning in the summer of 2011, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) will offer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Art Practice, a low-residency, interdisciplinary program of study that offers experienced artists an opportunity to deepen their studio practice and to develop an advanced body of work under the guidance of some of the world’s foremost artists and critics. The program will be chaired by educator and art museum professional David A. Ross.  

Ross has assembled a leading group of artists, curators, historians and critics to serve as faculty members, guest lecturers and mentors in the new program, including: Vito Acconci, Cory Arcangel, Dara Birnbaum, Liam Gillick, Terrence Koh, Ming Wei Lee, Glenn Ligon, Stephen Henry Madoff, Robert Pincus-Witten, Gary Simmons, András Szántó, Carrie Mae Weems, Lawrence Weiner, and Terry Winters, among others.

Ross cites the fully-interdisciplinary approach to the MFA degree as an emerging trend in art education. “The MFA in Art Practice is based on the idea that increasingly artists do not wish to define their practice by a specific medium or discipline,” he says. “In this post-Conceptual era, artists often pursue their practice by engaging an idea first, which then may involve a combination of media, technologies and techniques.” Ross explains, “With the flexibility that a low-residency program offers, SVA will provide a new option for practicing artists–across the county and the world–to advance their careers while taking advantage of the remarkable range of resources available to students at SVA.”

The immersive 66-credit degree program is comprised of a rigorous curriculum with coursework structured to be delivered via a feature-rich, interactive online learning environment throughout the course of two academic calendar years, in addition to a series of three intensive 6-week summer sessions to be held at the College’s campus in New York City. During the summer sessions, students will further their body of work during dedicated studio time, while attending classes, seminars and critiques and engaging with the diverse cultural offerings and resources that the city of New York and the vibrant SVA community provide.
Required courses include: Art History: Exploring the Interdisciplinary, which examines the role of art history in preparing and developing one’s own artistic direction; Art History: Challenging the Conventional, which contrasts the canonical history of Modernism with emerging histories, offering a different reading of the social and political context of art history; Artists’ Writings, which looks at the interventions visual artists have made into the art criticism of their time via essays, manifestos, poems, letters, artists’ books and artist-run publications; Autobiography of Place, which investigates how artists situate creative practice in everyday life and how their communities can inform their work; Bases of Criticism, which delves into the prominent theoretical positions within past and present art criticism; The Journal: A Writing Workshop, where students produce a daily record of their work in writing or another platform; as well as workshops in Performance, Advanced Video and Sound Editing, Advanced Digital Imaging, Art Law and Art Business. During each term, students will participate in the program’s Graduate Seminar, as well as Studio Practice and Thesis Preparation courses.

An advocate for contemporary art and artists for the past 40 years, David A. Ross was director of The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ross has been active in a curatorial capacity since 1971, when he was named the world’s first curator of video art at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. A widely-published author and frequent lecturer, Ross has taught at the University of California, San Diego, the San Francisco Art Institute, Harvard University and Columbia University. Ross was one of the founders of Artists’ Pension Trust, a pioneering financial planning program for working artists. He has served as a juror and commissioner at numerous international shows and exhibitions. In addition to chairing the MFA in Art Practice Department, Ross teaches in the BFA Fine Arts Department and serves as a special assistant to SVA President David Rhodes.

SVA launched its first low-residency graduate program in fall 2009 with the MPS in Digital Photography Online/Summer Residency-a one-year program designed for working professionals who are looking to advance their skills but cannot relocate to New York for a full calendar year of study. To provide students in the program with a complete learning experience, SVA developed a robust web-based learning platform, including interactive video and audio components that allow for synchronous and asynchronous meetings, exchanges in real time and virtual office hours.

School of Visual Arts is a comprehensive college of art and design offering the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising; animation; cartooning; computer art, computer animation and special effects; film and video; fine arts; graphic design; illustration; interior design; photography; and visual and critical studies; the degree of Master of Fine Arts in art criticism and writing; computer art; design; design criticism; fine arts; illustration as visual essay; interaction design; photography, video and related media; and social documentary film; the degree of Master of Professional Studies in art therapy; branding (beginning fall 2010); digital photography; and live action short film (beginning fall 2010); and the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching in art education.

School of Visual Arts is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. SVA is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the International Association of Independent Schools for Art and Design (AIAS) and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

Prospective students can request more information through the Office of Graduate Admissions at SVA by calling 212.592.2107 or via email at, or by contacting the Department via email at

For more information, please contact the School of Visual Arts at or 212.592.2010.Click here to subscribe to the Visual Arts Briefs, SVA’s weekly digest of news and events.