Ok most insiders have known about this forever but the Pacific
Northwest College of Art
has now officially launched its MFA program, giving
Portland a much needed second MFA. Previously only PSU produced MFA's but PNCA's
program is unique in the region because it is mentor based, which a little similar
to what Goldsmiths
. The 15 MFA candidates have already been selected and will
start in the Fall. Notably, 75% of the candidates aren't from Portland (which
is just about in keeping with the general population of Portland's art scene
these days). The competition should also highlight the need for PSU to get more
serious about its program (which has improved tremendously with little support).
Here's what PNCA says via MK Guth, the new MFA program's chair:
"The MFAs mentor-based approach pairs students with a faculty member
or an artist in the larger Portland art community who can best support the students
exploration. Connecting a student with a mentor who directly identifies
with their focus affords an immediate and personal form of educating,
says Guth. The one-on-one relationship creates a supportive climate for
students to conduct original research and develop new ideas.
If the feisty, opinionated Guth
(a fellow cheesehead
from Wisconsin) is any indication the program should give PNCA some more teeth. Guth has been a professor in PNCA's
Intermedia department since 2004 and a practicing interdisciplinary artist. She earned her MFA in studio art from New York University in 2002. Still, the college needs a star hire and the curatorial position vacated by Nan Curtis
last year is just one opportunity for that to happen.
Here are some more details from the press release:
The MFA in Visual Studies, a two-year, 60 credit program, was developed by
the faculty committee with the participation of the PNCA community, and in consultation
with AICAD schools, local colleges, and representatives of the greater Portland
arts community. It is multi disciplinary, inclusive of many disciplines, including
painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, communication design,
and illustration to mention a few. Students can choose to work discipline specific
or interdisciplinary. This model allows students to develop their own pathways
of investigation and research in ways that most benefit their existing practice.
The arrival of these 15 MFA students next fall marks the culmination of
extensive planning as well as the beginning of a new direction for the College,
said Ware. We are particularly proud of how our faculty committee created
a program that allows artists to pursue a highly-focused body of work with a
cross disciplinary approach. PNCA has a rich history as a place where highly
original work is created and the MFA Program will further enhance the overall
This MFA program was developed by a faculty committee in response to an initiative
from the PNCA Planthe Colleges five-year strategic planto
explore and establish new and innovative programs that support independent inquiry
and encourage cross-disciplinary dialog. For nearly a century Pacific Northwest
College of Art has been home to the regions most important artists and
art teachers and has been at the center of Portland arts community, giving
the city a vitality and vibrancy. PNCA is an accredited member of the National
Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Northwest Association of Schools
They have been working on this for an incredibly long time at PNCA. This will really be the beginning of PNCA solidifying itself as an art center. I don't remember the numbers exactly, but I think around 200 people applied for those 15 positions. MK will serve as a fantastic chair for the department. And what do you mean she is feisty and opinionated? Never. :)
Well she's bright too... I think our strange Wisconsin-centric conversations involving hodags and the particular kind of humor you wind in Wisconsin are some of the strangest things for those who witness them. It makes artspeak seem mundane.
The real issue is what kind of work will these candidates produce? MFA programs are nothing new for most big cities but Portland has mostly been importing MFA degrees, not producing them. The city is growing up fast.
"The competition should also highlight the need for PSU to get more serious about its program"
PSU is quite serious about its program, and it is adding a new Art and Social Practices MFA program beginning this fall led by Harrell Fletcher. There are eight MFA candidates enrolled in this post-studio program of which there is only one other like it in the country, the other being CCA.
The Daily Vanguard broke the story on May 31: