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Thread: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

  1. #1

    MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    I want an MFA in Photography because I feel my technical skills need improvement and I would like guidance in further exploring media and advanced technologies. I want a school that emphasizes technical instruction rather that only being conceptual. I am looking into UCLA, California Institute of the Arts, California State University Northridge, San Jose State University, RIT, Pratt, SFAI, Rhode Island School of Design, MICA, Yale, Virginia Commonwealth University, Ohio University, Bard College, and Parsons. I was looking into Savannah College of Art and Design and Academy of Art University as well, but I have heard lots of mixed feeling about these two. I know my list seems endless and if anyone has any advice on ANY of these or others I have not mentioned, I would greatly appreciate it!!

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    RIT has all the tech you can handle and the weather/location encourage you to study.

    Not that an MFA is a good idea for anyone but at least you'd help the local economy for a few years.

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Might as well add Mass College of Art and Columbia University to your list, both very well respected photo programs with people working there that are world reknown photographers.

    SCAD is a toss up, i would not reccomend it unless you are 100% sure you want to do commercial work and only that.

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    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Some of those schools you list are good schools but not at the cutting edge of advanced technologies, so you need to really look into that aspect. For a school to keep up with that takes a huge financial commitment and a couple of those you mentioned can barely keep their doors open.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Columbia College in Chicago

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    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Columbia College is a school I would recommend given your requirements. I say that even though I teach part-time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a school I truely love. SAIC is very strong in terms of technology, but not from a practical POV.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Technical skills? Advanced technology? Exploring different media? While these aspects you're interested in exist in mfa programs across the country they are only incidental to most programs principle goal - to turn out working artists with a mature artistic vision as honed by regular critiques. I went to Yale to get an mfa and at the time (late '90's) it was considered one of the less conceptually oriented programs out there. What technical skills we might have learned we figured out ourselves. No one was working with digital even though it had been around for some time. There was nothing interdisciplinary about it other than in referring to artists who were not lens-based. Regrettably, most mfa programs these days (and I've visited a few as a roving artist/critic) seem to be intent on readying their students to present their work to gallerists. With the rise of the critic in the consumption of contemporary art this now means familiarizing candidates with the basest platitudes of 20th cent. continental philosophy (read "contemporary issues" a la art forum) so they might better trick out their product for the market that may or may not take them on. Fortunately for me this wasn't yet the case at Yale in the late '90's with a program still very much under the sway of old-school modernists Papageorge and Benson. But even Yale has changed. As of this year Dean Storr was concerned we were losing ground in the field in not preparing students with the conceptual underpinnings from which so much contemporary work is based. As a kind of palliative to this condition he's implemented a one semester "contemporary issues" which will only serve to further perplex would-be artists (most of whom have no background in classical philosophy) with the obscurantist views of the likes of Derrida , Foucault and Lacan. Truly a sad state of affairs especially when most students are more concerned with the politics of galleries than they are with their own work. I don't mean to discourage you but unless you're hell-bent on becoming an art-star or a college professor I'd advise you to take technical courses at a place like RIT or Brooks. Or move to LA or NYC and start assisting a professional.

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    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    I don't mean to discourage you but unless you're hell-bent on becoming an art-star or a college professor I'd advise you to take technical courses at a place like RIT or Brooks.
    While much of what you say is painfully true, it is primarily true for the cutting edge schools that are seriously into playing that game. There are many schools that offer more of a balanced curriculum with good technical courses and art theory/criticism etc. where a student can structure a program that covers both areas well. There are also many good reasons to get an MFA other than wanting to become an art star or a college professor as I did.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    Based on my two years of post-retirement study (at the undergraduate level) at a fine arts college but also being frequently around a lot of the MFA students, seeing their work, taking some of their courses, etc. many MFA programs are the last place to go to learn technical things. The school I attended was by no means one of the great MFA programs but the professors were graduates of those programs. The idea there seemed to almost be that if you learned what f/stops and film speeds were it would interfere with your artistic muse.

    I'm certainly not saying the lack of emphasis on technical aspects is true of all MFA programs, just that I think it is of some so you need to be careful about where you end up going.

    I'll also add that some of the programs you mention are (or at least used to be) extremely difficult to get into. If you actually have a choice of attending most of the ones you mention you'll be very fortunate.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10

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    Re: MFA in Photography for 2011 (that emphasizes technical instruction)

    If the intent is to learn and grow, then perhaps not getting an MFA would be more productive. A selection of actual practice, book reading, practical workshops, perhaps an internship, or even, believe it or not, a job might provide a better education and preparation for working as an artist.

    I mean ~working as an artist~, not teaching.

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