MFA Visual Narrative

The MFA in Visual Narrative integrates the long-standing fine arts tradition of the CFA School of Visual Arts with sequential art storytelling practices, allowing students the opportunity to craft stories that integrate written and visual language.

Degree Type

  • Graduate

Formats

  • In-Person

Availability

  • Full-Time

Location

  • On-Campus
Link to the bulletin

Program of Study

Boston University’s MFA in Visual Narrative integrates the long-standing fine arts tradition of College of Arts’ School of Visual Arts with sequential art storytelling practices, allowing students the opportunity to craft stories in the medium of comics, long-form graphic novels, picture books, and transmedia that integrate written and visual language.

BU’s MFA in Visual Narrative underscores the myriad possibilities emerging from the amalgamation of Comics, Picture Books, and Transmedia, especially when synergized within a Research I institution. This integration entails intertwining research in the humanities and sciences with the artistic disciplines of comics, picture books, and transmedia, thereby forging multifaceted storytelling experiences. Through exploring the practical applications of various modes of Visual Narrative, the program delves into the medium’s capacity to convey narratives with empathy and to communicate effectively with a wide-ranging audience.

Students engage critically with the history of the discipline, including its role galvanizing social messages and contributing to the way information is disseminated and made persuasive to mass audiences.

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Because visual narratives often offer a legible first-person perspective on social issues that can make complex information more accessible, students develop nonfiction narratives that correlate with a specific area of personal engagement and conceptual artistic interest, such as social justice, history, gender studies, or the natural and social sciences. By doing so, they are better able to promote diversity and inclusion efforts by sharing the social experiences of marginalized individuals.

Crafting stories that integrate written and visual language.
Boston University’s new Visual Narrative MFA program is one of only a handful of programs in the country focused on producing media such as comics and graphic books, picture books, and animation.

The new Master of Fine Arts degree is led by renowned comic book artist and CFA alum Joel Christian Gill (CFA’04).


“I want you to be able to want and have that passion for storytelling. I can teach you how to draw… come for the storytelling and we can tell incredible stories together.”

Camila Kerwin

Camila Kerwin

Camila Kerwin

Camila Kerwin

Dajia Zhou

Dajia Zhou

Dajia Zhou

Joel Christian Gill holding the graphic book Stamped From the Beginning

Ibram Kendi, Joel Christian Gill Team up for New Graphic Version of Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning

The collaboration offers a graphic history of American racism, intended for a broader readership

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Exploring Visual Narrative

School of Visual Arts director Dana Clancy discusses the new program and painting her pandemic experience on New York Times pages.

READ THE ARTICLE

Facilities and Resources

VISUAL NARRATIVE STUDIO
STUDIOS AND SHOPS
Printmaking Studio

Graduate students will have 24-hour access to a shared professional studio space with students in the degree.

With training, graduate students are also granted access to the Printmaking facilities on the 4th floor of the 808 Building, directly above the graduate studios. Printmaking facilities include etching, lithography, silkscreen, bookmaking, letterpress and digital print studios.

Additional facilities available to graduate students include a fully equipped woodshop, welding shop, ceramics facilities, black-and-white darkrooms, digital media studios including vinyl cutters and a Risograph printer.

Students frequently utilize the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC), a 15,000-square-foot, $9 million facility on Commonwealth Avenue, just steps from the School of Visual Arts. This state-of-the-art facility features everything from laser etching to rapid prototyping, allowing designers to collaborate with engineering staff and students to see their projects through all stages of hands-on production.

Ella Scheuerell

Ella Scheuerell

Ella Scheuerell

Sadie Saunders

Sadie Saunders

Sadie Saunders

COLLECTIONS AND SERVICES

The Visual Arts Resource Library is a non-circulating collection of books, exhibition catalogues, directories, magazines, and sound and video recordings available for SVA students and faculty. New books are added annually, and acquisition recommendations are always welcome. In addition to housing an over 6,000-volume reference collection, which includes many rare and unique items.

The Visual Arts Resource Library’s digital resources include Apple desktop computers fully loaded with the Adobe Creative Cloud, a large-format digital scanner, and a tabletop copy stand for documenting work. A collection of digital equipment, including digital cameras, projectors, audio recording equipment, lighting kits, and more, are available for short terms loans to SVA students and faculty. Visit the SVA equipment page to learn more.

The Karl Fortress Audio Archive is a resource developed by Karl Eugene Fortess (1907–1993), a painter and printmaker who headed the School of Visual Arts printmaking department from 1956 to 1973. Beginning in the early sixties, he undertook a major artist interview project, creating 269 recordings with prominent American artists. These interviews are available for students to borrow from the library on mp3 players. The list of interviews in the library’s collection includes many prominent American artists of the twentieth century, among them Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Alex Katz, Jacob Lawrence, Jack Levine, Robert Motherwell, and Alice Neel.

The Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, whose mission it is to convene researchers and practitioners from various disciplines to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice.

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, which captures and documents history by collecting the manuscripts from individuals who play a significant part in the fields of journalism, poetry, literature and criticism, dance, music, theater, film, television, and political and religious movements.

Sandeep Badal

Sandeep Badal

Sandeep Badal

Isabelle Rousseau

Isabelle Rousseau

Graduate Curriculum Requirements

Curriculum requirements for the MFA Painting program can be found on the Academic Bulletin.

VISIT BU BULLETIN

Important Dates

Winter 2024

JAN 16

Application Deadline

Spring 2024

MID-MARCH

Notification Deadline

Fall 2024

EARLY-SEPT

Classes Start

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Lafleche Giasson

Lafleche Giasson

Lafleche Giasson

Lafleche Giasson

Lafleche Giasson

Lafleche Giasson

Program Faculty

Next Steps for Applicants

The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to visit us in-person or remotely. Observe classes. Faculty members are available to meet with you and to discuss your educational interests, individual learning needs, and career goals.

Explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources to determine if the program is the right match. Reach out to visuarts@bu.edu with any questions along the way.

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