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UC Santa Cruz offers new MFA program

environmental art mfa ucsc
UC Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) UC Santa Cruz's Art Department is now accepting applications for a new degree program.

The department will begin offering a two-year MFA degree in Environmental Art and Social Practice starting in fall 2021.

Students enrolled in the program will work in the studio and in the field, according to the university, and will build their art practices as they explore art's role in starting change. Art professor and director of graduate studies Laurie Palmer says this program is unique because it is focused on a theme and gives students a chance to channel their concerns into creativity.

“Unlike more traditional, open-ended MFA programs, EASP focuses on making and locating art in direct relation with issues and problems, and with diverse communities —human and non-human—while remaining grounded in individual and collective commitments, rigorous research, formal pleasures, and aesthetic visions,” she said.

There are other programs around the country focusing on social practice, according to Palmer, but there are not any focused on how it is connected with environmental art and justice. There are also programs that focus on ecology, but they do not highlight social justice.

Palmer said the idea for the program grew out of the faculty's creative practices and inspiration from artists Helen and Newton Harrison, but it has also come from the university's "reputation for and ongoing commitments to social justice and environmental concerns."

The first cohort in the fall semester is expected to have eight students, and another eight are expected to join in Fall 2022.

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Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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