KCAD’s MFA Drawing program is committed to both the conceptual and technical education of the professional artist, providing a balance between intensive studio experience and critical, theoretical, and historical inquiry. Students are encouraged to explore and experiment, ultimately taking primary responsibility for the direction and focus of their work. Studio work in the MFA Drawing program may cover a broad spectrum of subjects and techniques, ranging from work that is traditional in its approach to work that challenges and expands the very definition of drawing, including mixed media, installation, new media, and other interdisciplinary approaches.
In addition to the studio experience, course work in art history and critical theory provides students with a stimulating environment in which to examine the relationship between art and culture and to cultivate intellectual and aesthetic development. While critiques and studio discussions include concern for technical and formal issues, the primary critical emphasis is on content and conceptual strength, including the aesthetic dimension of the work, the cultural and historical context of the work, and awareness of relevant philosophical and theoretical issues.
As a student in the MFA Drawing program, you’ll be immersed in an encouraging, yet challenging environment that fosters self-directed critical exploration and refinement of the technical, conceptual, and processual elements of your drawing practice. The program embraces an extremely broad view of drawing as an artistic medium, encouraging you to investigate the potential of a wide variety of materials, techniques, and spatial/contextual relationships in order to arrive at the practice that best supports your growth and creative vision. As such, you’ll learn how to strongly align your material and medium choices with the conceptual underpinnings of your work.
Outside of the studio, a graduate seminar in art history will heighten your awareness of the ways in which art both informs and is informed by the society in which it is created, You’ll also have the opportunity dive deeper into the nexus of art, media, and culture by taking courses in KCAD’s Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies program or even earning an 18 credit-hour certificate. These courses offer a diverse perspective on topics such as cultural criticism, research ethics, and new media literacy.
Ultimately, the MFA Drawing program will lead you to a greater understanding of both your art and its relationship to the world around you.
As you work toward a mastery of your technical skills, you’ll also develop enhanced communication skills through focused critique sessions with faculty and fellow students. KCAD’s MFA Drawing program promotes open, honest, and vulnerable dialogue that will help you heighten your ability to speak intelligently and confidently about your work, competently defend your artistic decisions, and respond to others’ ideas in a well-considered, constructive manner.
You’ll also gain pertinent professional skills in curation, artwork preparation, and promotion by collaborating with other MFA students, including those in other disciplines, to organize exhibitions of student artwork in several on-campus gallery spaces. These spaces act as a laboratory in which you and your peers can experiment with various methods of engaging audiences with your creativity, facilitating experiences that will help prepare you to both secure exhibition opportunities and maximize their potential.
If you’re considering a career in higher education, you can also take advantage of the MFA teaching seminar, which covers current methodologies, preparatory and studio practices, and other practical teaching skills.
The KCAD MFA Drawing program invites transformation while also encouraging you to interrogate and reinforce your existing practice. As you progress on your journey, you’ll be supported by faculty who reflect a broad diversity of professional practice—from traditional drawing to collage, mixed-media, installation, performance, and collaborative work—and provide an invaluable breadth of perspective.
There’s also the matter of Grand Rapids, a mid-size city that values art and design. Your experiences in the MFA Drawing program will be complimented by exposure to nationally and internationally recognized artists exhibiting at KCAD’s Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) and the nearby Grand Rapids Art Museum. You will also be able to connect to the thriving local creative community, including galleries, cooperatives, and other arts organizations—including many powered by KCAD alumni—that will help you expand you network and fuel your professional development.
The MFA Drawing program aims to instill in its graduates a strong sense of artistic, intellectual, and personal confidence that will open doors to a broad array of professional possibilities. You’ll emerge from the program empowered to succeed as a professional artist, and you’ll also be equipped to teach at the college/university level and pursue career opportunities such as a curator, museum preparator, art director, gallery owner, appraiser, archivist, or many other positions in which your creative and communication skills will enable you to thrive.
The capstone of the MFA Drawing program is the development of a cohesive body of work that reflects conceptual maturity and well as technical and material mastery. You will also be expected to clearly articulate and defend the conceptual and material choices motivating your work in both a comprehensive thesis document and an oral overview of the growth you’ve achieved during your time in the program, which you’ll formally present to an MFA candidate review panel composed of MFA Drawing faculty, KCAD faculty from other disciplines, and West Michigan arts professionals. All facets of the thesis project should be supported by your extensive research into relevant theoretical, historical, and contextual subject matter.
As a student in the MFA Drawing program, you’ll have a wealth of professional-quality resources and facilities at your fingertips, including The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more; a printmaking lab featuring etching presses, lithography presses, screen printing presses and equipment, papermaking equipment, and more; KCAD’s Material ConneXion Satellite Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more; fully appointed photography facilities; The Baker Furniture Collection, a historically-rich and inspiring archive of furniture from around the world; the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals; The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, an exhibition space featuring the work of nationally and internationally-recognized artists; KCAD’s Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), an innovative cultural institution hosting exhibitions of such contemporary artists and designers as Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, and Judi Werthein; and many more.
Two graduate student-run exhibition spaces on campus will enable you to both showcase your work and gain valuable experience organizing, preparing, and executing professional exhibitions: the Allvium Gallery, a street-level professionally outfitted space easily accessible by the public, and the Art[ery], an open commons space located within the expansive lobby of the 17 Fountain St. NW building.
You’ll also have the support of The Masters Student Collective, a graduate student-run organization that oversees the Art[ery] and organizes the Michigan Emerging Graduate Artists (MEGA) competition and exhibition.
Opportunities to study away offer even more ways to expand your thinking.
Ready to get started? Apply now!
Fine Art Seminars are non-media specific courses that address ideas, issues or practical information, which is of value to all Fine Art graduate students, irrespective of their media interests. A variety of Fine Art seminars are available providing theoretical, practical, educational and professional information, experience and expertise.Teaching seminar requires completion of 18 credits of student's discipline.
A seminar dealing with topics of special topics in art history, theory, and/or criticism.
Emphasis within the graduate drawing studio will be placed upon the eventual development of a cohesive body of work that demonstrates increasing technical and material mastery. Students will be expected to research and incorporate themes, motifs and ideas of personal or conceptual significance into the production of their drawings. Students will clearly articulate the conceptual and material choices motivating their work by producing a five-page research oriented artist statement that will be presented at their first year graduate review.
Graduate drawing thesis provides preparation for the Master of Fine Arts exhibition. Emphasis within the drawing thesis course work will be placed upon the continued development of a cohesive body of work that demonstrates technical and material mastery. Students will be expected to demonstrate a high degree of sophistication in the research and incorporation into their drawings of themes, motifs, and ideas of personal or conceptual significance. Students will clearly articulate the conceptual and material choices motivating their work by producing a ten-page research oriented artist statement, and presenting a final oral overview of their achievements to a formal M.F.A. candidate review panel.
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.