Headed by an internationally distinguished faculty, the Department of Art Graduate Program offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary environment for training in the visual arts. The three-year MFA program comprises a series of core and elective classes in production, theory, and contemporary issues. In addition to a wide range of classes in Art, students may also take advantage of the academic excellence UCI provides as a leading research university by taking courses in other departments and programs. Through a combination of one-on-one faculty mentorship, seminars, and regular comprehensive peer critiques, the Department of Art affords an optimal intellectual setting for fostering creative and critical development. In addition to faculty dedicated to facilitating students' understanding of visual art and its cultural contexts, graduate students have access to visiting artists through lectures, studio visits, and colloquia.
UCI is located forty-five miles south of Los Angeles, where our faculty, students, and alumni are active participants in a rich and multi-layered art community. Our faculty and students regularly participate in a host of events (symposia, lectures, screenings) organized by on- and off-campus programs, institutes, and centers. In recent years, the department has also shared programming with the Orange County Museum of Art, a leading contemporary arts venue in Southern California and home of the California Biennial.
The MFA program is designed to provide a thorough and intensive professional training for independently motivated students wishing to pursue careers in the field of contemporary art. The program emphasizes experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to art making, while also providing a solid grounding in various disciplinary mediums and post-studio practices. Students undergo a rigorous course of study combining seminar classes, intensive critique courses, and independent study.
During the first two years, students take courses from a curriculum, totaling 12 units each quarter. Beyond that, students can select additional course work from any sector of the department or university, including approved upper-division undergraduate courses. The third year is structured so that students can devote themselves to the production of their thesis exhibition, working intensively with a small faculty committee.
Students may design a course of study that does not focus solely on studio production. For example, students may concentrate course work outside the department in a research area or pursue a graduate emphasis (e.g., take courses in the Visual Studies PhD program or the Critical Theory Emphasis, both offered by the School of Humanities).
Every year, the Visiting Artists and Scholars program invites artists, scholars, curators, critics, gallerists, and writers to give lectures and conduct studio visits with graduate students. The Visiting Artist Lecture Series (VALS) and the Studio Art 220 seminar comprise the Visiting Artists and Scholars program. Organized by graduate students, VALS invites a slate of visiting artists and scholars relevant to graduate students' own research and practice. The Art 220 seminar (required both first and second year) incorporates visiting lecturers in a colloquium setting where students engage in in-depth discussions with visiting artists and scholars. Together, both series add to the dynamic exchange of ideas and scholarship that occurs inside and outside the classroom.
Graduate students are appointed as Teaching Assistants and/or Teaching Associates in two quarters (out of three) during each of their three years in the program. Teaching Assistants are assigned to assist in the delivery of instruction under the active tutelage and supervision of a faculty member. Teaching Associates are assigned to conduct the entire instruction of a lower-division course, with minimum faculty supervision. Some graduate students may also be appointed as Teaching Assistants in the Summer. A few second- and third-year MFAs are also appointed as Graduate Student Researchers, who are tasked with providing lab or office hours to assist students in accomplishing their work in the labs and class assignments.
The positions of Teaching Assistant, Teaching Associate, and Graduate Research Assistant are all paid appointments.
Students have regular opportunities to exhibit in the Contemporary Art Center Gallery, the University Art Gallery, and the Room Gallery. First-year MFAs conduct Open Studios, while second-year MFAs mount an exhibition reviewed by faculty committees to evaluate their progress to candidacy for the degree. Third-year MFAs mount a thesis exhibition in one of the galleries in the spring, and are also given the opportunity to mount a second exhibition in Los Angeles during the summer after graduation. Recent venues for the Los Angeles exhibitions include LAXART and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).
All MFA candidates are provided with a studio space, either in the Contemporary Arts Center (single occupancy studios) or in the ACT Building (shared studios).
Facilities include photography laboratories (analog and digital), video production studios, data laboratories, and sculpture laboratories for work in wood and metal. There are also facilities to support work in digital media, painting, performance, drawing, ceramics, new media, and technology. For more information, please go to Studios & Labs.