Art Studio Graduate Program

About the M.F.A. Program
Overview

About the M.F.A. Program

The Art Studio MFA in the Department of Art & Art History at UC Davis is a two-year, generously funded, critically engaged graduate program that provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary study in the visual arts. Drawing on the vast resources of a research one university, the program offers MFA students the opportunity to engage in intensive artistic work supported with individual, spacious 24-hour access studios, while interacting with other artists, scholars and STEM professionals across campus. Art Studio is committed to delivering an innovative educational curriculum in preparation for professional public engagement in the arts including arts education, exhibition and curatorial practices, and community-based work. The culmination of two years study is presented in the cross-campus, cross-disciplinary thesis exhibition in the beautiful Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. 

The program offers three vibrant visiting artist programs including, The Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud Lecture in the Theory, Practice and Criticism of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, The California Studio: Manetti Shrem Artist Residencies and The Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Recent visiting speakers include Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Leonardo Drew, Peter Schjeldahl, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Beatriz Cortez, Yvgenia Baras, Samara Golden, Diana Al-Hadid, Aliza Nizenbaum, Anne Ellegood, Rico Gatson, Edgar Arcenaux, Alec Soth, among others.

The Art Studio MFA program offers substantial financial support through paid teaching assistant positions and through Art Studio and Graduate Studies Fellowships. UC Davis is an academic partner of many professional programs, and granting agencies including The Headlands Center for the Arts, Dedalus Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Skowhegan, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Vermont Studio Center among others.

Our educational and creative community is committed to empower diverse perspectives and varied research interests contributing to conversations in social justice, sustainability, public interest and public-engaged scholarship.

Watch our promotion video here.

Financial Support

The Art Studio MFA Program offers substantial financial support through paid Teaching Assistant positions each quarter and through Art Studio Program Fellowships, made possible by generous private endowments. Students may also apply for university support through Graduate Studies Travel Awards, the Davis Humanities Institute, and  the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts.

UC Davis is an academic partner of The Headlands Center for the Arts, Graduate Fellowship Program, which offers a year-long artist residency for one of our M.F.A. graduates each year. Over the years, graduates of the program have won many nationally competitive graduate fellowships and post-graduate awards from the Dedalus Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation http, Skowhegan, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Vermont Studio Center, the Roswell-Artist in Residence Program, and Eyebeam. Read more>>>>

Faculty

The entire Art Studio faculty shares responsibility for the graduate program and teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. Our faculty represents a diversity of approaches across all disciplines. Faculty include Robin Hill, Tim Hyde, Darrin Martin, Graham McDougal, Hearne Pardee, Annabeth Rosen, Youngsuk Suh, Gina Werfel, and Shiva Ahmadi. See our People section for more information about our faculty and lecturers.

Facilities

Graduate students are also provided with large, individual studios on campus, located near the main art building with 24/7 access. 

The Art Studio Program has facilities for the following media: drawing, ceramic sculpture, painting, photography, printmaking, video, and sculpture. See our Resources page for more information about each facility and its equipment. 

The University is an unparalleled resource in all disciplines of research to broaden and deepen the work of an artist. Graduate students in the Art Studio Program have many opportunities to interact with their peers in Art History, Cinema & Digital Media, Music, Performance Studies, and Design, through facilities/labs, exhibitions, lecture series, and course offerings.

Visiting Artists, Residencies and Lecture Series

  • Visiting Artist Lecture Series
    A dynamic, interdisciplinary Visiting Artist Lecture Series is a key component of the Art Studio MFA curriculum, providing students with the opportunity to conduct studio visits with world-renowned artists, critics and curators. Past visitors have included Jerry Saltz, Phong Bui, Joan Jonas, Gregory Amenoff,  Mary Lucier, Robert Storr, Vito Acconci, Ken Johnson, Jed Perl, Fred Tomaselli, Kalup Linzy, Terry Winters, Larry Rinder, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Rochelle Feinstein, Dana Schutz, Lucy Lippard, Angela Dufresne, Ryan Trecartin, Shana Moulton, Rico Gatson, Rirkrit Tiravanija and LaToya Ruby Frazier among others. 
  • The Thiebaud Lecture
    The Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud Lecture in the Theory, Practice and Criticism of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture (formerly the Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud Endowed Lecture) honors the Thiebauds’ long commitment to educating the eye and hand along with the mind. The endowment, started in 2015, complements the Art Studio Program’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series and The California Studio, both core components of the Art Studio MFA Program. The Betty Jean and Wayne Thiebaud Lecture in the Theory, Practice and Criticism of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture features practicing artists along with critics, curators, writers, historians, and museum professionals, to provide cultural insights and context for contemporary art. The Thiebaud Endowment also aims to bring more than one guest per year and/or extend the length of their UC Davis engagement. 

    Past visitors have included: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Leonardo Drew, David Salle, Aliza Nisenbaum, Catherine Murphy, Peter Schjeldahl, and Rackstraw Downes. 
  • The California Studio
    The California Studio: Manetti Shrem Artist Residencies are dedicated to the practice of art in a teaching and research environment. The California Studio supports three to four spotlight artists for week-long residencies and two teaching artists in residence for ten-week, quarter-long residencies. Each residency is student-centered and presents contemporary forms of practice and approaches to studio art education.

Collaboration and Resources

UC Davis offers an array of programs that draw upon its wide range of specialized academic fields. By stimulating cross-disciplinary approaches and using its distinctive graduate groups, UC Davis continues to follow and redefine the mandate of a major research university and is committed to the land-grant tradition on which it was founded, which holds that the broad purpose of a university is service to people and society.

The University is an unparalleled resource in all disciplines of research to broaden and deepen the work of an artist. Graduate students in the Art Studio Program have many opportunities to interact with their peers in Art History, Cinema and Digital Media, Music, Performance Studies, and Design, through facilities/labs, exhibitions, lecture series, and course offerings.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art is an institution dedicated to combining vanguard artistic and curatorial innovation with audience engagement. Exploring new means to connect visitors with art and participating in the process of art are two aspects of the new museum that are at the very center of its vision. The museum will encourage interdisciplinary exchange, provide means to make an impact on curricular development and create informal educational opportunities.

Keister & Allen Art Purchase Prize

The Keister & Allen Art Purchase Prize is awarded annually to a graduating Master of Fine Arts student. The award, started in 2017, provides for the purchase of artwork created by the recipient for the university’s Fine Arts Collection. The purchase prize is made through an endowment fund established by Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of the UC Davis Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and Walter Allen, a business analyst in the client services unit of UC Davis Information and Educational Technology. Read more>>>

About the Campus

Located in agricultural landscape of the Sacramento Valley, UC Davis is located about an hour’s drive from Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco; a six-hour drive from Los Angeles; a two-hour drive from the ocean and equidistant from Lake Tahoe. Davis is situated on the floor of the Sacramento Valley, hot and dry in the summer and cool and rainy in the winter, and is surrounded by fruit and nut tree orchards. Napa and Sonoma are close at hand.

Our M.F.A. Students

The MFA in Art Studio values a diversity of viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences among its students as this diversity strengthens and enriches our research, scholarship, and teaching. Our diverse graduate student population enhances the academic experiences for all students. We are committed to a multicultural academic environment that supports the success of all graduate students. Diversity among students, faculty, and staff is a key, integral factor in graduate education at UC Davis, to achieve an equitable, hospitable and inclusive educational environment.

For the latest on Grad Diversity initiatives please visit the Graduate Studies diversity page at www.gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/diversity.

M.F.A. Graduate Exhibitions

The culmination of two years of study is presented in the cross-campus, cross-disciplinary thesis exhibition in the beautiful Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. ​

View Image Gallleries of Art Studio M.F.A graduate work in our recent “Arts & Humanities Graduate Exhibitions.”

M.F.A. Graduate Exhibition Catalogs

2021: Where With All

2020: Altered Trajectories

2019: o.o.o., a a h

2018: Present Tense

2017: Common Area

2016: Having Happened

2015: jjmwmnl

2014: For Future Reference

2013

2012: You Never Know When I’ll Show You the Never

2011: The House of Others

2010: Dance, You Monster, to My Soft Song

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