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MFA Standards Updated

posted by Christopher Howard — Nov 13, 2008

Last month, the CAA Board of Directors approved revisions to the MFA Standards, one of the organization’s many Standards and Guidelines for visual-art professionals. The revised document, prepared by a subcommittee of the Professional Practices Committee (PPC), is now published to the CAA website.

During summer and fall 2008, Jean Miller, chair of the PPC-MFA Standards Review Committee, and Charles Wright, a PPC member who is also leading a discussion about the doctorate in studio art, worked on a draft of a revised MFA Standards. Last revised and approved in 1991, the document was submitted to the board by Maxine Payne, PPC chair.

The PPC-MFA Committee contacted art and design colleagues across the nation throughout the revision process to gather ideas for changes. The response was very good, with certain themes or points reoccurring. Many of those queried thought that the idea of the MFA as the terminal degree in art and design needed to be reinforced. Others found the language in the 1991 standards to be dated, so it was rewritten throughout to reflect present-day issues and concerns.

Contemporary and evolving studio practices, interpretation of ideas, and the role of art and design in innovation were all thought to be important concepts. Information about technology and experimental media, collaborative works, and interdisciplinary applications of art and design were also considered to be critical to current art practices for students in MFA programs.

Some respondents advocated for robust and comprehensive educational curricula that include critical studies, art history, and visual culture. The inclusion of statements about diversity and how curriculum must support non-Western and Western cultures was important to all.

The PPC thanks everyone who helped in the revision, in particular, Carmon Colangelo, Patricia Olynyk, Nora Sturges, Judith Thorpe, and Jim Hopfensperger.

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