Note from the Director of Graduate Studies

Carl OstendarpCarl Ostendarp

We welcome your interest in the M.F.A. Program at Cornell University. It is useful to describe what the program at Cornell shares with other leading M.F.A. programs nationally and internationally and what it is distinctive about graduate studies in the visual arts at Cornell.

Most advanced programs today encourage a creative and intellectual practice within a pedagogical environment that fosters independent and critical thinking, with the resources to accommodate and encourage an ambitious range of studio practices, taking place in a community of faculty, students, and visiting artists which challenges, supports, questions, and advises the development of creative practice. Recently, too, some M.F.A. programs have, like the one at Cornell, adopted a position that encourages both interdisciplinary and medium-specific practices and questions a pedagogy informed solely by Western models and traditions of art.

Beyond this, the Cornell M.F.A. program has unique features. Our two-year program is an intensive community with a limited number of students. The small scale might appear overly rarified were it not for the exceptional breadth and integration of its context. The Department of Art is a part of AAP, a resource-rich environment in which to explore the increasing intersections of art with spatial/urban/architectural theories and practices that are emerging through rapid globalization and explosive media and technological innovations.

Beyond AAP, Cornell offers programs and graduate degrees in almost every imaginable established and emerging field. This context offers opportunities for extreme focus within the small contours of the M.F.A. program and possibilities for discursive research in the intellectually diverse dimensions of a leading university. This dialectic of concentration and expansion characterizes the creative potential of independent research imaginatively applied by M.F.A. students at Cornell.

The intellectual resources and connectedness at Cornell are vast, providing the unique combination of pastoral retreat and global integration. To augment this geographic dynamic, students accepted into the M.F.A. program typically receive exceptionally generous scholarships as well as assistantships that encourage both focus without distraction and discovery without limitation.

The M.F.A. at Cornell is a challenging opportunity for artists to create relevant, adaptive, and sustainable practices. Accepting the complex, often demanding pleasures of art, research, labor, and experimentation, I hope you will contact us if the M.F.A. at Cornell is a program and place where your ideas, commitment, and passion for an expressive and connective art practice can develop.

Assistant Professor Carl Ostendarp
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Art

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