The Master of Fine Arts program in Sculpture provides the tools and language for students to become rigorous thinkers and artists in the twenty-first century. The program interweaves the significant demands of creative production, intellectual and theoretical inquiry, critical engagement with cultural history and contemporary art discourse. It offers expansive dialogue with peers, faculty, and distinguished visitors. It challenges students to embrace creative risk, to productively engage with difference through dialogue and collaboration, to accelerate and intensify the relationship with their own work, and to participate in cultivating an expanded vision for the future of art.
Our curriculum is designed to promote generative conversations between positions of creative difference, allowing for stimulating cross-disciplinary exchange and activity with emphasis on a balance of art production, art theory, and critical inquiry. At the core of this two-year program is a studio culture that is collaboratively formed by an intimate cohort of student artists whose cultural backgrounds and creative practices are all highly distinctive, resulting in a dynamic, evolving learning environment. Our students’ work is characterized by its fluid movement between modes of art production, which include sculpture, installation, video, performance, image-making, text, and all that is possible across and between these genres.
Studio production, graduate seminar courses, and group discussions are central to our curriculum. In addition, students’ educational experiences are enriched by special programs and activities, such as the MFA film series, student-created events, and multiple field trips and site visits throughout the year. With the lowest student-teacher ratio of any comparable MFA program, students have unparalleled one-on-one contact with internationally renowned core faculty members, guest critics, writers, curators, and visiting artists. In addition to twenty-four-hour access to individual studios, a shared Sculpture project room, and fabrication facilities, students are encouraged to explore the extraordinary range of academic opportunities and media production resources available to them within the broader Boston University context.
The city of Boston, with its rich history and diverse culture, provides another important resource for our program. Boston is home to world-class museums and contemporary institutions that attract internationally active artists, curators, and writers. The city hosts a thriving culture of talks and lectures, making the art-academic experience in Boston exceptionally vital.
Program of Study
Fundamental to the curriculum of Graduate Studies in Sculpture is a well-rounded studio practice with extensive exposure to a plurality of contemporary perspectives. Our program balances individual creative production with a wide range of curricular activities, such as: reading and research; topical seminar courses; critical analysis and interpretation of student work; collaborative projects; film screenings and discussions; and travel to galleries, museums, and cultural events within the Boston area and beyond. At the end of each semester, student work is reviewed by the core faculty and a guest critic from the field. At the end of the fourth semester, the graduating student mounts a public thesis exhibition in a professional gallery, where the work is reviewed by a thesis panel. The exhibition is accompanied by the MFA exhibition catalogue, which includes a written thesis statement by each MFA student.
Graduate Sculpture Course
The objective of this course is to facilitate the development of a strong studio practice in preparation for active participation within the spheres of contemporary art and its discourses.
- Studio Meetings: One-on-one meetings between the student and the Sculpture graduate faculty, visiting artists, or visiting critics are scheduled throughout the two years of MFA studies. These meetings provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss the conceptual, formal, technical, historical, philosophical, and cultural implications of the student’s studio production.
- Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Internationally recognized contemporary artists are regularly invited to deliver public lectures and to conduct studio visits with graduate students. The visiting artist lecture series plays a crucial role in connecting students with the professional art world.
- Group Critique: Core faculty and peer MFA Sculpture students gather regularly to discuss the work of one student. Students analyze the work, finding strengths and weaknesses, applying various modes of interpretation, raising issues concerning contemporary art, while noting relevant historical, theoretical and cultural references. Faculty guide the students in questioning the relationship between art and meaning, and how their practices address or confront discourse in contemporary art.
- Film Series: During one semester per academic year, the MFA Sculpture program hosts a film screening series. Films are curated across genres, from arthouse to mainstream, in response to a particular theme. Each session consists of the screening of a feature-length film, followed by a set of related art film and video clips, and concluding with a group discussion.
- Field Trips: Throughout the academic year, there are multiple field trips to museums, galleries, artist-run spaces and private foundations in Boston and the Northeast. Once a year, students can participate in a longer field trip to gain greater exposure to different art cultures. These longer trips include visits to various art institutions, alternative spaces and artist studios. Recent trips have included Marfa, Texas and Los Angeles, California.
A reading and discussion seminar, the topic of this course changes each semester with the objective of building and expanding students’ grasp of the language of art theory and art history. This course encourages a content-based discussion of the readings, as well as critical analysis of the complex issues surrounding contemporary art.
A minimum of three elective courses are required. In addition to studio electives within the School of Visual Arts, students can take advantage of a variety of courses offered throughout the various other schools and colleges within Boston University. Students are encouraged to enroll in Post-War and Contemporary Art History courses designed specifically for MFA students.
Graduate Visiting Artists & Critics
In addition to working closely with core full-time faculty, graduate students benefit from regular visits with practicing artists artists, who present lectures and conduct studio visits and critiques. Students benefit from both the Tuesday Night MFA Lecture Series and the Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series.
Past visiting artists and critics include:
- Jeffrey De Blois
- Frank Benson
- Jennifer Paige Cohen
- Nicole Cherubini
- Jeffrey Gibson
- Henriette Huldisch
- Vishal Jugdeo
- Mary Reid Kelley & Patrick Kelley
- Gabriel Kuri
- Patricia Olynyk
- Karthik Pandian
- Sheila Pepe
- Tobias Putrih
- Ursula Von Rydingsvard
- Nora Schultz
- Jim Skuldt
- Catherine Sullivan
- Jan Tumlir
- Phoebe Washburn
- Fred Wilson
- Andrea Zittel
- Graduate students have 24-hour access to large personal studios on the 3rd floor of the 808 Building, approximately 250-350 square feet, in addition to larger communal project spaces.
- MFA students have full access to a woodshop, printshop, and spray room adjacent to the studios.
- With proper training, additional facilities available to graduate students include a welding shop, ceramics facilities, black-and-white darkrooms, digital media studios including vinyl cutters and 3d printers.
- 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. In addition to housing an over 6,000-volume reference collection, the library’s digital resources include Apple desktop computers fully loaded with the Adobe Creative Cloud and a large-format digital scanner. A collection of digital equipment, including digital still and video cameras, digital projectors, audio recording equipment, lighting kits, and more, are available for short terms loans to SVA students and faculty.
- 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.
- The Sculpture program regularly works with EPIC (Engineering Product Innovation Center), a pioneering facility at Boston University for fabrication that offers laser cutting, 3D printing, robotic manufacturing, and more.
- Students are given numerous opportunities to display work in Boston University galleries. Each graduate student has a solo exhibition in the Commonwealth Gallery during their second year. The culmination of the two-year program is the Thesis Exhibition, hosted by the Boston University Art Galleries.
- Assistantships are available for all MFA Sculpture students; these can either be service-based or teaching-based, with preference given to second-year MFA students for teaching assistantships.
- Each summer, BU hosts Boston Young Contemporaries, a juried exhibition of work from graduate programs in Boston and throughout New England. Graduate students have the opportunity to organize the exhibition and connect with their peers at local institutions.
- The Kahn Career Entry Fund for the Arts was established to provide funds to assist talented students who complete undergraduate or graduate programs at CFA at the beginning of their careers.
- Scholarships and other funding opportunities are available to Graduate Sculpture students. For more information, visit the Graduate Tuition and Financial Aid page.
- Won Ju Lim | Assistant Professor of Art
- David Snyder | Assistant Professor of Art, Chair of Graduate Studies in Sculpture
Graduate Curriculum Requirements
Curriculum requirements for the MFA Sculpture program can be found on the Academic Bulletin.