MFA in Public Action

Beginning in the fall of 2018, the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College offers a Master of Fine Arts in Public Action. This highly selective graduate degree program is designed to give accomplished artists working as agents of social change the time, space, and focus to conduct research and develop new work. 

MFA candidates are expected to have substantial professional experience in socially or civically engaged public art or related areas, well beyond undergraduate studies. We recognize the achievements of artists who have had significant careers and encourage them to apply in order to continue their creative research. 

In a supportive and challenging environment, candidates collaborate with expert faculty members and other students, including undergraduates, to deepen their artistic passions and to hone their skills. MFA in Public Action students have full access to the College’s outstanding facilities: the Center for the Advancement of Public Action, an expansive Visual and Performing Arts facility including 3D printers, laser cutter, computers with a myriad of software, woodshop, metal shop, printmaking facilities, and multiple other venues (including theaters, galleries, the student center, and outdoor spaces) to accommodate their creative endeavors. 

Curriculum

The curriculum for the MFA in Public Action is largely self-directed: candidates work closely with faculty to design an education plan that best suits their individual strengths, interests, goals and creative process. 

Each year of Bennington’s program consists of a 14-week fall term and a 14-week spring term. The spring term begins in late February, after a 7-week undergraduate winter Field Work Term during which there are no classes. MFA candidates are able to use this time as well as the summer to continue their professional work. Short-term professional commitments during the school terms may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Each term requires a minimum 16-credit schedule, which includes both research work in creative public action and other coursework. As a core requirement, candidates meet in a once-a-week tutorial with faculty to discuss and show the development of new material. This 6-credit course, Graduate Research in Public Action, is the basis of the individual’s studies. Throughout the term, all participants in the program are encouraged to show and discuss works-in-progress. 

Other courses may be elected from the full undergraduate curriculum with expectations of a higher level of engagement and performance (2-4 credits each) or in combination with tutorials crafted with individual faculty. Additionally, each candidate participates in a 2 credit advising and mentorship tutorial focused on teaching at Bennington College and related graduate level academic topics, which will be overseen by a Bennington faculty member. 

The application essay describing a candidate’s experience in the field and goals for their time at Bennington serves as an outline for initial discussions with a faculty advisor. During the first term, each candidate works with an advisor to further design a plan of study. Throughout the two years, each student will meet regularly with an advisor and have ongoing access to the teaching faculty. 

As integral members of the overall Public Action Program, candidates are expected to contribute to all aspects of the program, participate in meetings, attend workshops, lectures and performances. The program provides multiple opportunities for creating new work and encourages everyone to participate in an ongoing community dialogue that is fundamental to advancing one’s artistic practice.

Robert Ransick
Robert Ransick
Director, MFA in Public Action
call rransick@bennington.edu