MFA in Photography


Christopher James

Master of Fine Arts in Photography
Lesley University College of Art and Design

From the Director - 2014

From its inception, our MFA in Photography program has been designed and constructed as a collaborative work in progress... inventing an alternative model for MFA programs in photography. We were fully cognizant, from the first development meetings in 2009, that photography was experiencing significant change and that we, the faculty, students, and Visiting Artists, saw this as an extraordinary opportunity to lead the way into what is rapidly becoming the new photography... how it is taught, practiced, and what it represents.

Our MFA in Photography was created to emphasize craft and concept driven photography built upon rigorous studio practice, art and cultural context, critical and professional studies, and the fluid integration of contemporary media within traditional and alternative photographic practice. This was predicated upon the philosophy that photography is no longer a single entity, but is unique among the visual arts in its ability to successfully merge new technologies, critical examination, and traditional influences with personal artistic production making impressions with light. It is, more than any other form of visual expression, an ideal nexus of art and culture.

We have had the rare opportunity to create this program together... where a passionate respect for the conceptual hand-made, and machine-made image, has been the guiding force. The first graduating classes, who entered in 2011 and 2012, have set a new standard for the ones that follow... and it represents us well. I am extraordinarily proud of them and so grateful that they have helped to define our program's path and to have made this adventure so much fun. I hope that you will consider joining us in the future.

Christopher James
University Professor
Director M.F.A. Photography
College of Art and Design / Lesley University

 


 

Program Design:
Of the 60 credits, 33 credits (or 55%) are new graduate-level courses, 15% are Professional Studies opportunities for internships, mentoring, fellowships, and teaching assistantships. The remaining 30% are electives chosen from existing Lesley University College of Art and Design studio, critical studies, and art history offerings. Courses will be delivered in traditional face-to-face formats and using online enhancements when appropriate. The program will fully integrate outstanding Visiting Artists as a key component of the learning experience.

The program design involves an intense focus on studio practice and seminar critique, combined with critical theory and study in each student's area of professional interest. Students will have access to state of the art digital technologies as well as alternative, historical, and integrated media related resources. Building on our current faculty expertise in these areas, we intend to create a flexible curriculum that will be attractive to artists who are pursuing their own individual vision using photographic means, and where traditional media will have new life in the hands of 21st century visual communicators and artists.

Market:
Students who have completed their BFA or who have equivalent experience; photographers practicing in the field; artists working in photographic media and in cross-disciplinary directions, alternative photographic processes and artist books. The program would build on the international reputation and contacts of the Director of the MFA program, Christopher James, and resident and visiting artist faculty. Visiting Artists committed to date include Dan Estabrook, Vicki Goldberg, Sally Mann, Keith Carter, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Lyle Rexer, and Holly Roberts. Likely competitors include Mass Art, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, School of Visual Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and RISD. Lesley University College of Art and Design's program will be unique in its emphasis on professional practice and the hand-made image.


Regulatory Accreditation: NASAD, NEASC, State of Massachusetts

2. MFA Program Goals:

Three primary learning outcomes make up the philosophy of this program:

a. Artistic Growth - The foremost goal of the program is to acknowledge and nurture the existing talent and passion of each MFA candidate. Then, to develop, the necessary expertise and tools to allow for the refinement of a unique, and flexible, artistic vision that will continue throughout a lifelong evolution within the arts. Students will be asked to demonstrate a mastery of artistic accomplishment, both aesthetic and technical, in the context of a personal imagery and style.

b. Reflection and Analysis - Through rigorous study of art history, analysis, critical thinking, and culture, students will refine their understandings of the traditions of photographic art making and enhance their awareness of how their own work relates to such traditions. Students will be asked to demonstrate the ability to reflect, analyze, and articulate their own artistic and cultural beliefs.

In addition, a key component of the program will be to enhance each candidate's knowledge of, and preparedness for, the professional practice of photography, including relations with educational environments, galleries and museums, grant writing, public and private commissions, and more.

c. Critique - In a pluralistic context, students will be asked to develop a clear understanding of the numerous criteria for making critical judgments about the art of photography, as applied through frequent critiques, and critical analyisis, of their own creative process, and of their peers, during the course of the program.


MFA Faculty

Christopher James | christopherjames-studio.com
Director, MFA in Photography Program

University Professor James is an internationally known artist and photographer whose paintings and alternative process images have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including shows in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first edition of his book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Delmar Cengage -Albany, NY), received unprecedented critical acclaim and was the winner The Golden Light Technical Book of the Year award. In 2008, a greatly expanded, and lavishly illustrated, 2nd edition was published by Delmar Cengage and has become universally recognized as the definitive text in the genre. A 3rd edition is underway and will be published in 2013. Christopher, after 13 years at Harvard University, is currently University Professor, and Director of the MFA in Photography program at Lesley University College of Art and Design. He is also a working graphic designer and a professional scuba diver.

David Hilliard | davidhilliard.com
Professor Hilliard received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. His photographs are exhibited both nationally and internationally and he has received numerous awards including a Fulbright grant and a Guggenheim fellowship. David has been an assistant professor at Yale University where he also directed the undergraduate photo department. He has taught at Harvard University, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and was the director of the photography department at Cranbrook Art Academy in Michigan during the 2007/2008 academic year. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. David also leads photography workshops throughout the country at institutions such as the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center on Cape Cod and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass CO. His photographs can be found in many collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work is represented by Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston, Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, Jackson Fine Art in Atlanta, Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica and La Galerie Particuliere in Paris. Aperture Press published a collection of his photographs in 2005.

Matthew Nash | harveylovesharvey.com
Professor Nash received his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the publisher of the art magazine Big RED & Shiny, a 501(c)3 non-profit. His artwork has shown at numerous venues, including the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, The Albright Knox Museum, Judi Rotenberg Gallery, The Boston Center for the Arts, and the Art In Odd Places and Conflux festivals

Cig Harvey | cigharvey.com
Professor Harvey received her MFA from Rockport College. Her most recent solo shows have taken place in New York, Houston, and Aspen. In addition to her personal work Cig has shot international campaigns for Kate Spade and editorials for New York Times, Harpers Bazaar, and New York Magazine. Cig's work is in numerous collections worldwide including The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Bonnell Robinson
Professor Robinson received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her interests include multiple media (photography, film, and video) and the application of critical and cultural theory. Ms. Robinson's work can be found at the Graham Gund Collection, the Fogg Art Collection and the Irish Architectural Archives in Dublin, Ireland.

Jane Tuckerman | janetuckerman.com
Professor Tuckerman received her BFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has held faculty positions at Smith College and Harvard University. Ms Tuckerman has exhibited throughout the United States as well as abroad at the Instituto Chileano Norteamericano de Cultura in Santiago, Chile. Her recent publications have been in Aperture and Time-Life Books. Professor Tuckerman has received numerous awards including the New Works Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Ben Sloat | bensloat.com
Professor Sloat earned his BA from the University of California, Berkeley and his MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. He has exhibited extensively in the United States including solo shows in New York, California and Boston. Mr. Sloat is a recent recipient of a Fulbright Scholar's Grant, which he used to conduct a seven month photography project in Taiwan.

Christine Collins | christinemcollins.com
Professor Collins received her BA from Skidmore College and her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. In addition to the classes she teaches at Lesley University College of Art and Design, Christine has taught photography and foundation classes at The Maine Photographic Workshops and Massachusetts College of Art. She has exhibited at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA; Storefront Artists Space, Pittsfield, MA; The Maine Photographic Workshops, Rockport, ME; East End Arts Council, Riverhead, NY; and 357 Gallery, Rockland, ME.

4. Graduate Studio Seminar I - IV - Visiting Artist Component
MFA in Photography Visiting Artist:

Program Description:
The Visiting Artist program is a key component of the MFA in Photography program and is intended to promote curricular flexibility and a timely reflection, and response, to the constantly changing identity of photography in the 21st century.

Within the MFA curriculum, Graduate Studio Seminar I - IV is designed as the core graduate study experience and is critical to the immediate reputation, success, and evolution of the MFA program. Each semester, a Visiting Artist, artist and / or scholar, (heretofore called Visiting Artist), will be teamed up with a core faculty member, and 12 MFA in Photography candidates, in a Graduate Studio Seminar, for an intensive studio and critical studies experience. These individuals will be leaders in the ever evolving photographic arts and will include contemporary artists, historians, curators, and theorists.

Among those who have committed to participate in the program; Luis Gonzalez Palma, Sally Mann, Keith Carter, Dan Estabrook, Lyle Rexer, Holly Roberts, Joni Sternbach, and Vicki Goldberg.

Visiting Artists 2011 - 2012

Dan Estabrook - fall of 2012 Dan Estabrook pathetica: artwork
Vicki Goldberg - spring 2012 Home - Vicki Goldberg

Visiting Artists 2012 - 2013 (to date)
Keith Carter - fall 2012 Keith Carter Photographs - Home
Luis Gonzalez Palma - fall 2012 Luis Gonzalez Palma
Lyle Rexer - spring 2013 Lyle Rexer Web Site
Holly Roberts - spring 2013 Holly Roberts

Visiting Artist Overview:

In order to engage the highest caliber Visiting Artists, we do not require that Visiting Artists reside in Boston for the semester. We ask each Visiting Artist to come to Lesley University College of Art and Design a minimum of three times during their semester, and stay for two complete days, 6 in total, of work with MFA students. The specifics of the visits may be adjusted to the individual and the complexities of their travel arrangements.

The first visit should coincide with the beginning of the semester in order to begin the working relationship between the MFA candidates and Visiting Artist. It will consist of a 6 hour Graduate Studio Seminar with a core faculty and 12 MFA candidate cohort on the first day of the visit. The second day will feature one-on-one meetings between the Visiting Artist and each student in their group.

The second visit will be scheduled during mid-semester reviews and will repeat the structure of the first visit and will include a Visiting Artist's Talk with the University and Lesley University College of Art and Design community on a subject of the Visiting Artist's choosing. The final visit will take place at the conclusion of the semester and will incorporate specific tasks depending upon the level of the Graduate Studio Seminar, i.e., Graduate Studio Seminar II and IV Visiting Artists will be expected to participate in a final, end of year, critique and Thesis reviews.

Throughout the term, Visiting Artists will be expected to be in timely correspondence with the MFA students in their Graduate Studio Seminar section, via email, telephone, or in person.

5. Relation to Lesley University Mission:

The MFA in Photography program fits well within Lesley's overall mission as the program is committed to: "active learning, scholarly research, critical inquiry, and diverse forms of artistic practice through close mentoring relationships among students, faculty, and practitioners in the field."

6. Admissions Requirements

Applicants will be required to hold a BFA, BA, BS, or other comparable degree from a recognized college or university, preferable in the field of the visual arts. Waivers will be considered for candidates with exceptional portfolios demonstrating their promise for success in the program.

Applicants must submit:

  1. A completed graduate application form and application fee.

  2. A portfolio of work completed within the past three years consisting of 20 images provided on DVD, CD, or electronically.

  3. A resume reflecting the student's education, art and work experience, exhibitions, awards, publications, etc.

  4. Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate work.

  5. Two letters of recommendation

  6. A written statement reflecting the students' artistic goals and work.

An admissions committee consisting of representatives from the Graduate Admissions Office, Lesley University College of Art and Design's Photography program, and other designated individuals will review all applications for admission to the MFA program.

How do you evaluate a candidate for the MFA program in Photography?
What is the process?

The primary component of a candidate's application will be a representative portfolio of 15 - 20 works, on CD or thumb-drive, that demonstrate a clear and coherent vision. It is expected that a candidate for the MFA in Photography will have strong technical skills, coherent syntax, and the ability to discuss their work on a conceptual and historical level.

Applicants will be asked to submit a personal, and concise, essay discussing their art and relevant autobiographical / artistic influences that have contributed to its creation. This essay, incorporating a statement of purpose describing the candidate's intentions during the degree program, and transcripts, are also instrumental in defining the candidate to the Admissions Committee.

Letters of reference will be requested for MFA finalists invited to Boston for interview. Finalists will be asked to bring actual work to this interview.

7. Degree Requirements:

  1. Successful completion of four semesters in residence in the program, earning a total of 60 graduate credits. This will include full participation and satisfactory evaluations from all components of the program.

  2. Demonstrate accomplishment in their self-selected arena of artistic work, through both aesthetic and technical achievement that reflects the development of personal imagery.

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the various criteria used for making critical judgments about the visual arts, especially photography, including the relationship of visual culture to a societal context.

  4. Satisfactory participation in the critiques of other students' work during the course of study.

  5. Present a final exhibition of their work, which must be satisfactorily reviewed by the MFA program faculty and Visiting Artists.

MFA Degree Requirements

  1. Successful completion of four semesters in residence in the program, earning a total of 60 graduate credits. This will include full participation and satisfactory evaluations from all components of the program.
  2. Demonstrate accomplishment in their self-selected arena of artistic work, through both aesthetic and technical achievement that reflects the development of personal imagery.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the various criteria used for making critical judgments about the visual arts, especially photography, including the relationship of visual culture to a societal context.
  4. Satisfactory participation in the critiques of other students' work during the course of study.
  5. Present a final exhibition of their work, which must be satisfactorily reviewed by the MFA program faculty and Visiting Artists.
MFA Degree Requirements - Photography
Two -year program - 4 semesters - 60 credits
Semester 1  
* IGRPH 6100 - Graduate Studio Seminar I 6 credits
IAHIS 5100 - Issues in Art History & Visual Culture 3 credits
IGRPH 5100 - Photography as a Cultural Practice 3 credits
Studio Elective 3 credits
Semester 2  
* IGRPH 6200 - Graduate Studio Seminar II 6 credits
Art History or Critical Studies Elective 3 credits
IPHOT 3740 Art in Context - or - Professional Studies Elective 3 credits
Studio Elective 3 credits
Semester 3  
* IGRPH 7300 - Graduate Studio Seminar III 6 credits
Art History or Critical Studies Elective 3 credits
Professional Studies Elective II 3 credits
Studio Elective 3 credits
Semester 4  
* ITHPH 7500 - Thesis Studio** 6 credits
* IGRPH 7400 - Graduate Studio Seminar IV 6 credits
Professional Studies Elective 3 credits


* New MFA Generated Course
NASAD MFA Guidelines: At least one-half of the credits required for graduate degrees must be in courses intended for graduate students only. Critique and Critical Studies Seminar, Thesis Studio = 30 credits
* Professional Studio Elective - (May fit into any of the categories listed below)
Internship and Teaching Fellowship - IGRPH 7880
Studio Assistantship - IGRPH 7089
Independent Study - IGRPH 7999
Art in Context - IPHOT 3740

** (studio for students to work exclusively on thesis)




General Information & Structure

Download Lesley University College of Art and Design MFA in Photography FAQ Sheet




ABOUT THE MFA IN PHOTOGRAPHY PROGRAM at Lesley University College of Art and Design

Program Format:
Of the 60 credits, 33 credits (or 55%) are graduate-level courses, 15% are Professional Studies opportunities for internships, mentoring, fellowships, and teaching assistantships. The remaining 30% are electives chosen from existing Lesley University College of Art and Design studio, critical studies, and art history offerings. Content will be delivered in a variety of formats: in class, electronic, and online when appropriate. The program will fully integrate outstanding Visiting Artists as a key component of the learning experience.

Program Structure

Graduate Studio Seminar - a 6 credit course taken in all 4 semesters *: 24 credits
A course run by a photo faculty member, but including numerous visiting artists and scholars, and additional contributions from current photo faculty. Course work includes intensive critique of student work being produced outside of class time, discussion, written work, lectures, demonstrations and field trips. Semesters 3 and 4 projects include generation and support of written thesis, as well as the development of the thesis exhibition.

Studio Elective- choose 3 courses from the existing Lesley University College of Art and Design studio electives:
Art History of Critical Studies Elective - 12 credits with Photography as as Cultural Practice and Issues in Art History and Visual Culture

IAHIS 2200 History of Photography 3 credits
IAHIS 2210 Testament: A History of Documentary Photography 3 credits
IAHIS 2220 The Power of German Film and Photography 3 credits
IAHIS 2460 The History of Animation 3 credits
IAHIS 3025 Cinema Eye, Cinema Art 3 credits
IAHIS 3043 Curators, Critics & Collectors 3 credits
IAHIS 3290 Art and Photography in Contemporary China 3 credits
IAHIS 3311 Gender in Focus: History of Women in Photography 3 credits
IAHIS 3313 Photography and the Multicultural 3 credits
IAHIS 3380 New Media: History and Process 3 credits
IAHIS 3600 Art Since 1945 3 credits
IAHIS 3610 Design Discourse 3 credits
IAHIS 3900 Alternating Currents: Experimental Film and Video 3 credits
IAHIS 4200 Representing Representation 3 credits
IAHIS 4500 Art and Popular Culture 3 credits
IAHIS 4600 Postmodernism 3 credits
IAHIS 4620 Hyperculture: Art and Technology 3 credits
IAHIS 4910 Critical Theory 3 credits
IAHIS 5100 Issues in Art History and Visual Culture 3 credits
IPHOT 2330 Contemporary Trends 3 credits
IPHOT 2340 Beauty and Fact: 19th Century Photography in the Digital Age 3 credits
IPHOT 2460 Cinema and Visual Response 3 credits
IPHOT 3390 Photography and Power 3 credits
IPHOT 3480 The Critical Eye 3 credits
IPHOT 3740 Art in Context 3 credits
IGRPH 5100 Photography as a Cultural Practice 3 credits


Professional Studies Elective- choose three 3 credit options: 9 credits
Options can include: internships, teaching fellowships, mentored independent studies, practicum or traditional course work in an area such as business management or art education Thesis Studio- a one-semester course taken in the final semester *: 6 credits
MFA students would be required to attend a Critique and Core Studies Seminar for each semester of the program, and to complete the Thesis Studio in order to graduate.
* Graduate Studio and Critical Studies plus the Thesis Studio equals 60% graduate core experience

MFA Photography Program Structure and General Course Descriptions


24.0 credits Graduate Studio Seminar I - IV
Core graduate study experience; 4 semesters at 6 credits each. *
Graduate Studio Seminar I - IV: This component of the MFA curriculum will be designed as the core graduate study experience. Each semester, a core Photography faculty member, in collaboration with a Visiting Artist / scholar, will offer an intensive seminar experience which will include in-depth critique of MFA candidate work produced outside of class, discussion, written work, lectures, demonstrations, and field trips. In semesters 3 & 4, projects include generation and support of written thesis, as well as the development of the thesis exhibition. The curriculum will support 2 Graduate Study Seminars, 4 per year, once the program has reached capacity in 2012-2013.

12.0 credits Studio Elective
Students choose four studio electives - one, plus Photography as a Cultural Practice, in Semester I and one each in Semester II and III - from a pre-selected list of eligible courses at Lesley University College of Art and Design, largely inclusive of most current studio courses. (These do not need to be graduate level courses.)

9.0 credits Art History or Critical Studies Elective
Students choose three courses - one course each semester for the first three semesters - from a pre-selected list of eligible course offerings from the either the Art History and Critical Studies Department, or other critical studies courses that may be offered by studio departments. (See sample list of courses attached.) 9.0 credits Professional Studies Elective
Students choose a 3-credit option each semester (3 in total) to advance their individual professional aspirations. These can include (but are not limited to): internships, teaching fellowships or undergraduate teaching assistantships, mentored independent studies, or traditional coursework (in areas such as art therapies, business, or art education).

6.0 credits Thesis Studio
A one-semester course - in the final semester - that focuses entirely on work being produced for the student's thesis exhibition. *

60.0 credits Total
* MFA students would be required to attend a Graduate Studio Seminar for each semester of the program, and to complete the Thesis Studio in order to graduate.

Photography MFA Requirements: 60.0 credits

Graduate Studio Seminar- a 6 credit course taken in all 4 semesters *: 24 credits
A course run by a photo faculty member, but including numerous visiting artists and scholars, and additional contributions from current photo faculty. Course work includes intensive critique of student work being produced outside of class time, discussion, written work, lectures, demonstrations and field trips. Semesters 3 and 4 projects include generation and support of written thesis, as well as the development of the thesis exhibition.

Studio Elective- choose 4 courses from the existing Lesley University College of Art and Design studio electives: 12 credits
3 credits __________________________________________________________________
3 credits __________________________________________________________________
3 credits __________________________________________________________________
3 credits __________________________________________________________________

Art History of Critical Studies Elective- choose three courses from the list below: 9 credits
3 credits IAHIS 2200 History of Photography
3 credits IAHIS 2210 Testament: A History of Documentary Photography
3 credits IAHIS 2220 The Power of German Film and Photography
3 credits IAHIS 2460 The History of Animation
3 credits IAHIS 3025 Cinema Eye, Cinema Art
3 credits IAHIS 3043 Curators, Critics & Collectors
3 credits IAHIS 3290 Art and Photography in Contemporary China
3 credits IAHIS 3311 Gender in Focus: History of Women in Photography
3 credits IAHIS 3313 Photography and the Multicultural
3 credits IAHIS 3380 New Media: History and Process
3 credits IAHIS 3600 Art Since 1945
3 credits IAHIS 3610 Design Discourse
3 credits IAHIS 3900 Alternating Currents: Experimental Film and Video
3 credits IAHIS 4200 Representing Representation
3 credits IAHIS 4500 Art and Popular Culture
3 credits IAHIS 4600 Postmodernism
3 credits IAHIS 4620 Hyperculture: Art and Technology
3 credits IAHIS 4910 Critical Theory
3 credits IAHIS 5100 Issues in Art History and Visual Culture
3 credits IPHOT 2330 Contemporary Trends
3 credits IPHOT 2340 Beauty and Fact: 19th Century Photography in the Digital Age
3 credits IPHOT 2460 Cinema and Visual Response
3 credits IPHOT 3390 Photography and Power
3 credits IPHOT 3480 The Critical Eye
3 credits IPHOT 3740 Art in Context

Professional Studies Elective- choose three 3 credit options: 9 credits
Options can include: internships, teaching fellowships, mentored independent studies, practicum or traditional course work in an area such as business management or art education.

3 credits __________________________________________________________________
3 credits __________________________________________________________________
3 credits __________________________________________________________________

Thesis Studio- a one-semester course taken in the final semester *: 6 credits

MFA students would be required to attend a Critique and Core Studies Seminar for each semester of the program, and to complete the Thesis Studio in order to graduate.
Thesis Title __________________________________________________________________

Graduate Studio and Critical Studies plus the Thesis Studio equals 50% graduate core experience.

MFA in Photography Additional Requirements in Studio Electives
Any course cross-listed as a MFA in Photography Studio Elective must have additional assignments/expectations to reflect the appropriate level or the amount of student learning expected of the MFA student. This can be in the form of extra writing, studio projects, critical thinking, communications and/or participation. This will need to be reflected in the syllabus for the MFA student. The instructor will be contacted by the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs or the Director of the MFA in Photography program to advise them of this requirement. Every MFA student is required to accomplish the added requirements and demonstrate a higher level of achievement and/or proficiency in the studio electives as determined and required by the instructor. The faculty member will determine what the additional expectations will be.