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Sunday 05.06.07

« First Friday | Main | Miller/Hull Lecture at PAM Tonight »

PNCA Launches MFA Program

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 college's does. 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 MFA’s mentor-based approach pairs students with a faculty member or an artist in the larger Portland art community who can best support the student’s 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 artistic investigation.”

This MFA program was developed by a faculty committee in response to an initiative from the PNCA Plan—the College’s five-year strategic plan—to 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 region’s 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 and Colleges.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 06, 2007 at 18:36 | Comments (3)


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. :)

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2007 08:29 PM

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.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 7, 2007 11:31 AM

"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:


Posted by: LK [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 7, 2007 02:28 PM

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