The Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art program at Vermont College of Fine Arts allows students to earn a 60-credit MFA degree over a period of two years through a combination of ten-day, on-campus residencies followed by six-month semesters of self-designed studio practice. Students work from their home studios in the context of the communities in which they live, work, and make art.
Students and faculty convene twice a year on our campus in historic Montpelier, Vermont to interact in a dynamic academic environment that is student-centered and supports a broad diversity of artistic practices. It is during this remarkable period that interactions between existing and new artistic concerns and communities are formed. Students present their critical and studio practices to each other, to faculty, and to visiting artists while planning their next non-residential period of study. By combining different levels of interaction and evaluation, affinities and ideas are generated at a remarkable rate.
While on campus, the faculty acts as the organizing community behind the immense amount of residency activity—presentation, evaluation, provocative thinking, and learning. Critiques, lectures, research groups, and student presentations provide a level of contact between faculty and students that serves as the foundation of each student’s individual planning and development. Because the faculty as a whole directs the program, this ongoing contact creates a broad, general understanding of each student’s process in an integrated and democratic manner.
Our world-class faculty is deeply invested in maintaining a rigorous critical and creative environment where the individual artist can succeed on his or her own terms. The program offers a high level of critical and creative discourse to a wide range of students, empowering them to create and sustain vital and generative practices that value their own experience and situation, and challenge received notions of success.
While the residency offers the time and space away from making art for reflection, and for the necessary dialogue regarding one’s studio practice and progress, the non-residency term is the time for students to produce work in the studio.
During the semester, students return to their home studios where they work in a unique mentorship under the direction of an Artist/Teacher from their local community. VCFA’s pioneering mentorship model ensures that students form lasting relationships with artists in their own backyards while determining individualized educational values and professional expectations for themselves. Students also receive, through correspondence, academic guidance on a research project in visual culture from a Faculty Advisor throughout the semester.
The studio component is the heart of the program. During the semester, students complete a 12-credit Studio Project in their own studios, using the media and method of their choosing. Students are guided toward moving their practice forward, designing a project that will challenge them to meet new artistic goals. The trajectory of this work follows a study plan developed with an Artist-Teacher, who is chosen by the student and approved by the program. The faculty can facilitate a connection to an artist with particular expertise or sensitivity that coincides with the student’s interests and individual sensibility.
The strength of the exchange between student and Artist-Teacher is one of the highlights of the student’s experience and a significant contributing factor in her/his growth. Students are encouraged to take risks, pushing the boundaries of their practice and inquiring deeply into their intent, aesthetic choices, subject matter, and subject position. In critical dialogue with their mentors, students strive to effectively integrate form and content. Experimentation and exploration are highly valued. The development of two years of studio work enables students to define and own their art practice such that they can leave the program attuned to who they are as artists and why they make the work they do.
866-934-8232, ext. 8703
Assistant Program Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8636
- Winter 2017: January 26 - February 4, 2017
- Summer 2017: July 20 - July 29, 2017
- Click here for a sample residency schedule, August 2014
"The educational model was brave, fearless, and radical, and made it possible for me to connect all the disparate areas of my life and my art, within a community I was deeply invested in."
-Matt Page, '03 VA