The MFA in Studio Arts is composed of discipline-specific studio classes and academic seminars in art criticism, history and theory, which are augmented by workshops, visiting artist lectures and special projects.
Core studio projects form the backbone of the program, offering an opportunity for rigorous disciplinary investigation and a forum to debate issues relevant to the student’s personal practice. Core classes meet weekly during the first two years of the program under the supervision of faculty who are engaged in a diverse range of studio art practices and research activities. At the end of each term students present their work to a review committee composed of faculty, invited artists, curators and critics.
Practice-led inquiry is contextualized by critical seminars that provide an interdisciplinary conceptual framework for the development of ideas in relation to creative practice. Seminar topics vary regularly to reflect the shifting nature of contemporary art and culture.
Studio I - 610
2 Theory Seminars*
Studio III - 612
1 or 2 Theory Seminars*
* one seminar may be substituted by a 3-credit Internship or Independent Study
Studio II - 611
2 Theory Seminars*
* a total of 4 theory seminars (12 credits) should be completed in the first year.
Studio IV - 613
1 or 2 Theory Seminars*
* one seminar may be substituted by a 3-credit Internship or Independent Study
Directed Studio Practice
TOTAL CREDITS FOR MFA DEGREE: 60
Studio Credits: 27, Academic Seminar credits: 21, Graduation Studio Project Credits: 12
Our seminar topics vary regularly to reflect the shifting nature of contemporary art and culture. The descriptions for seminars offered in the Winter 2021 semester can be found below.
This seminar is structured around a double question: where are sounds? where do they go? Addressed both theoretically and practically, the question allows for the treatment of two main lines that are crucial to understanding and analyzing any sound phenomenon: space and time.
This seminar is intended for students interested in going deeper into the notion of listening. Hearing, listening, being tuned into are three expressions that refer to different attitudes towards the sonic. Each and every one of us listens differently at each moment of our life. Each space, each experience has its specificity in terms of acoustics. These differences will be raised and discussed in class, since the course will be developed through texts, listening sessions of sound pieces, and exhibition(s) visits or meeting(s) with an artist.
The emphasis will be on the reading of texts known for having developed their thoughts in writing or on workshops related to the notion of listening. To these will be added a few texts by the by theorists (philosophers, acousticians), authors describing particular sound phenomena and curators who have addressed the subject in an exhibition. Discussions will alternate with listening sessions so as to create a balance between reading, listening and discussing.
The whole seminar rests upon conversation and counts on exchange, transmitting and circulating ideas, mutual receptivity and thus on listening in a manner both pragmatic and absolute.
Conceived to function as both research seminar and artistic/conceptual think tank white /(h)wīt/ is a graduate seminar that derives its thematic, historical, and conceptual focus from the broadest definitions of the word “white” (adjective, verb, noun).
Students will engage with a wide array of contemporary art works, critical writings and lectures that look closely a short, yet complex word that concurrently describes: a non-colour, positivity, goodness, spiritual purity, illumination, superiority, (default) racial identity, cleanliness, social order, objectivity, simplicity, and/or invisibility.
Texts by Nell Irving Painter, Maurice Berger, Gabby Moser, Darby English, Claudia Rankine, Sara Ahmed and art works/performances by artists William Kentridge, Adrian Piper, Abdul Abdullah, Vanessa Beecroft, Anna Deavere Smith, Young Jean Lee, and Jeremy O. Harris will prompt students to consider the origins and intentions of these associations as they relate to social relations, artmaking and meaning, power and change.
This section of Writing/Critical Methods and Practices focuses on professional practices in relation to professional and critical writing. The course will cover both methodology and practice. Following a schedule of assigned readings on contemporary artist’s writing, workshops and guest discussions, we will explore methods adopted by artists in their professional, critical and personal writing. In discussions about these readings, we will ask the following questions: what is the relationship between written and visual language? How do we describe our artistic process, which may be intuitive, or subconscious in terms that are generous, and, to a certain degree, specific? How do we frame that experience as research creation? Practically speaking, this course will include research and formal writing projects such as artist’s statements, grant, residency, and exhibition applications, and writing for applications for faculty positions.
A few things are taken as givens in this seminar: writing is a material practice; there is no such thing as bad writing; writing and collaboration are fertile and imaginative actions. By considering experimental approaches to group and solo writing, installation and in-class workshops, we will explore the granular and grist of how language aligns with studio practice across digital and analogue platforms and in live and archived capacities. Some areas of inquiry will include positionality of the author and auto-ethnographies as bridging community, land and site specificity in relation to language, tonal and linguistic translation, writing as gesture, spatial and material dimensions of wor(l)ds, relationships between artist-writer and viewer-reader. In addition to conceptual approaches to word play, we will look at vessels and circuits of language from mail art, love letters, recipes, scripts, neon lights, banners, vinyl and invoices.
This seminar is a writing-intensive class for students who are prepared to develop a substantial piece of writing in relation to artistic practice. It is ideal for students who wish to write their thesis statement, an extended artist statement, artist talk, catalogue text, or critical/creative essay.
During the first five weeks of the course, we will come together to do writing exercises, discuss practical research and writing strategies, and talk about a diverse set of readings designed to stimulate thinking and build community in the classroom. For the remainder of the course, the emphasis will be on the production and review of individual writing projects. In each class, students will workshop the writing-in-progress of two of their colleagues – in a workshop, the writer listens in silence while readers discuss, in an in-depth, guided way, their experiences of the writer’s work.
Following the workshops, writers will have an opportunity to further develop and refine their works before submitting them for a grade. Students enrolled in the seminar can expect to emerge from it with a thoroughly revised draft of their project or a finished work.
During the past ten years aesthetics has received renewed attention in the visual arts having languished or been studiously avoided for decades owing to what were considered as adverse canonical affiliations. This seminar looks at the renewed interest with respect to making, experiencing and valuing contemporary art. Topics include: a) the emphasis on affect studies, b) the links between aesthetic experience and cultural identity c) Manovich’s notion of digital aesthetics, d) the search for new concepts, evident for example, in Sianne Ngai’s work “Aesthetic Categories” and Richard Shusterman’s “somaesthetics” and e) the possible rehabilitation of traditional aesthetic theories that are medium specific or propose a unified approach to matters of intent, emotion and practice.
Screens proliferate in contemporary life. Beyond the cinema, we find screens in the streets, in our homes, cars, offices, hospitals, shopping malls and museums, on our dashboards and computers, televisions, tablets, cellphones and watches. Surface, interface, portal, test, protector and interceptor: screens mediate between the self and the world to turn individual beings into social subjects. In this seminar we will conduct theoretical and historical readings and study film, video, inter-, new and media installation works that consider the changing of screen rituals over time and the various ways in which different screen experiences shape individual and collective consciousness. We will explore the different discourses framing the history of moving image arts in the museum, the various modalities of screen practices and their effects, the ways in which screen life permeates the built environment and the affects of screen practice on temporal experience.
The course begins with a series of seminars led by the instructor meant to establish a theoretical, historical and conceptual ground for subsequent, student-led sessions presenting research projects that bridge student interests with the issues addressed in the course.
This seminar will explore contemporary Indigenous cinema from Canada, the United States, Central and South America.
Indigenous Cinema of the Americas looks at the growing film production within the frame of Indigenous history and present day reality. A selection of topics, readings and films of all kinds (fiction, documentary, animation…), will guide discussions on aesthetics and politics. Indigenous cinema will be considered not only as another independent and minority film movement, but also as one channel through which is expressed a different vision of the world, parallel to mainstream culture. It reflects the ongoing narrative of a distinct experience at the heart of the continent, rooted on the land that is subjected to the colonial process. The European settler view of hierarchy amongst peoples and cultures, with Western culture as a universal end, obliterated the cultural complexity of the first inhabitants, defined by another conception of social structure, family, law, time, relationship to nature, etc. How has that worldview endured, evolved or been eroded? What can the rest of society learn from Indigenous stories (for instance, about environmental issues)? That implies and acknowledges that these voices still bump against a colonial mindset, even in cultural discourses that seem to welcome them; this will be examined more closely in the context of Canada and Québec.
Another key question is whether we can define an identity proper to Indigenous cinema, beyond the content but also in formal aspects, narrative patterns and tones; in the play between emulation and differentiation in regards to film aesthetics in both mainstream trends and contemporary “auteur” world cinema. That question can be raised about any culturally specific or “national” cinema that emerged through film history. But here we must also be guarded against a common homogenizing view of Indigenous peoples. As there is a vast plurality of Native cultures across the Americas, so the notion of identity in cinema is also relative to the one of diversity.
Under the guidance of an instructor, the Graduate Symposium fosters a community of practice and research by exposing students to a diversity of materials, methods, and processes, with the aim of expanding their understanding of disciplinary similarities and differences within the cinematic arts. Throughout this symposium series, in-progress research presentations by students will be enhanced with presentations by faculty and visiting cine-artists.
For more detailed information, or for a complete list of courses in all semesters, please visit the Concordia Class Schedule.