Graduate | Areas of Emphasis


The overall emphasis in the MFA program is on studio production.  Throughout the three years in the MFA program, students must take a series of critique seminars.  Work-in-progress, produced for the given quarter's critique class, is intensively discussed within a group context. Throughout their graduate careers, students must also work each quarter on an independent basis with the faculty of their choice. 

MFA candidates are encouraged to study with a range of faculty members. During the second year, students select a thesis committee with whom they will work on the development of both thesis studio production and research interests. However, even after the selection of the thesis committee, students are still encouraged to work with a range of faculty in order to continue to respond to and reflect on a diversity of ideas and differing approaches to both studio production and art distribution systems.

Throughout the first two years, students must also undergo a series of progress checks including open studio reviews and a second-year exhibition. Students are evaluated by faculty committees during their first and second years.  Satisfactory opinion by these committees coupled with both satisfactory independent study evaluations, and grades of a B or above will allow the student to progress to candidacy for the degree. During the third year, candidates must mount a thesis exhibition.  In tandem with the final thesis exhibition, students are required to do public presentations dealing with their work as part of their final defense before their thesis committee. It is a regular practice to give MFA students an opportunity to have a second exhibition in Los Angeles during the summer after graduation.  Recent venues for Los Angeles exhibitions are LAXART and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).

Additional emphasis studies available to Art MFA students include the graduate emphasis in Feminist Studies (refer to the Woman's Studies Program section of the UCI catalogue for information); Asian/American Studies (refer to Asian/American Studies Program section of the catalogue); Critical Theory (refer to Critical Theory Emphasis Program section of the catalogue); and Visual Studies (refer to Visual Studies PhD program section of the catalogue).


Critical Theory
The MFA program in Art emphasizes not only the production of works but also critical analysis behind and about art. Courses range from the introduction of contemporary and modern art and artists to in-depth study of particular artistic processes and critique of student works. Basic core courses through advanced and special topic instruction exist to help the student develop a full and complete understanding of their perspective within the art community.

The curatorial area engages an interdisciplinary curriculum, one combining formal, theoretical, social and political investigations. Fully integrated into the studio art MFA, the area shrugs off the hardline distinction between theoretical and aesthetic production. Artists and writers, alike, are thus trained to produce new work across diverse fields, which may result in exhibitions, programs, publications and other forms, as a modality of cultural analysis and engagement. Accordingly, the curatorial area encourages students to trespass the gates separating art production and art criticism. The curatorial area further encourages students to creatively (and destructively) engage the boundaries of set forms, fields, discourses, or classifications, all of which is part of the process of studying and producing “curation” in its widest definition. Consequently, the area’s curatorial genres are expansive, equally incorporating digital and analogue exhibition platforms for: architecture, experimental writing, film, performance, plastic arts, publishing, public programming / interventions, new media, virtual technologies and beyond.

Digital Filmmaking
Digital Filmmaking is comprised of a full range of facilities including a Video Stage, Stage 2 Lab, production equipment, Graduate post-production editing bays, voice over recording, and a sound editing suite.  The new video course track incorporates basic through advanced instruction and special topic courses into a complete video production series.

Electronic Art and Design
A wide array of resources exists for students interested in exploring critical and conceptual approaches to digital media. The department hosts the Game Culture & Technology Lab, a research and development facility open to graduate students working in related areas, as well as a digital video editing suite and digital print lab. School-wide facilities include a complete motion capture studio, an electronic music studio, and two labs equipped for web design, digital imaging, 3D modeling, motion graphics, interaction design, and real-time media.

New Genres
New Genres faculty work with graduate students in project-based work that is not confined to conventional media, such as video, installation, performance, as well as relational and other time-based work. Study range from exploration of institutions, objects, bodies, actions, texts, images, and media to create narrative, non-narrative, or situational works. Elements related to the history and theory of historical avant-garde practices, post-conceptual art practices, institutional critique, live/relational performance work, and film/video, are discussed to in terms of audience, technique, affect, and contexts.

Painting & Drawing
Two large studio spaces, over 1,000 square feet each, are utilized for a variety of painting and drawing courses from introductory level to advanced techniques and concepts. Emphasis is placed on production of works and critical analysis of the subject.  Courses are also offered in the investigation of contemporary issues in the mediums of painting and drawing by studying works of various modern and contemporary artists and writers.

The photography area services both black & white and color photography courses with a group laboratory, individual dark rooms, mural darkroom, and digital photographic processing. The area also houses a large array of photographic equipment including a variety of cameras, lenses, and lighting kits. Courses range from basic and non-tradition processing methods to advanced level black & white and color photography techniques.

The sculpture studio encompasses a 2,400 square foot wood-working and lecture facility, a 900 square foot state-of-the-art welding studio, and open yard space for the production of large scale works.  A large array of professional tools are available for the creation of complex sculptural elements using a variety of media, including wood, metal, and ceramics.