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School of Visual Art and Design

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Studio Art Graduate Programs

The studio art graduate programs at the University of South Carolina provide an opportunity for professional growth and mastery of skills in various areas of studio art practice.

M.F.A. in Studio Art

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Studio Art is a 60 credit, three year program of study that allows students to pursue major and minor areas of concentration from among the following studio art areas: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and sculpture (3D studies). Completion of the degree primarily affirms a candidate’s mastery of studio production in their major and minor areas of concentration. The University of South Carolina's M.F.A. program offers competitively assigned assistantships, allowing candidates to develop professional competency in the teaching of studio art at the college and university level while completing their studies. 

The M.F.A. degree requires a minimum of 60 hours of graduate level course credit in the following areas:

  • 33 hours studio art, to include 18 hours in the major area of concentration, 9 hours in the minor area of concentration, and 6 hours of studio art electives.
  • 12 hours from art history and/or art education.
  • 6 to 9 hours of the MFA Project (ARTS 896 and 897), including a written proposal and project documentation, and oral defense.
  • 6 to 9 hours of graduate electives.

All MFA candidates are also required to complete a first semester critique with the studio art faculty. The critique is non-evaluative, allowing for open discussion of the student’s work produced during the semester.

MFA candidates must then successfully complete and pass two progress reviews, one each at the completion of the second and third semesters. Each review intends to provide a forum for discussion and evaluation of work produced during the semester, to give students an opportunity for contact with studio faculty and to monitor the candidate’s progress. The reviews are equivalent to Master’s comprehensive exams.

Failure to pass will result in a re-review at the end of the next semester by the entire faculty. Candidates who do not pass re-reviews may not continue in the program. Students will not be allowed to register for ARTS 896 (Project Proposal) prior to successfully completing the two reviews. Upon completing the program, students will complete a creative terminal project (MFA thesis) and pass an oral defense. 

Courses to Degree
Curriculum and Requirements

Apply to the M.F.A. program

 

 

M.A. in Studio Art

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Studio Art consists of 30 hours of graduate credit, including a thesis. Students complete a minimum of 15 hours of graduate-level coursework in studio art, in areas such as graphic design, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and sculpture (3D studies). A minimum of 9 hours of electives may be taken in art education, studio art, art history, or other disciplines. A comprehensive exam and a defense of one’s thesis are also required.

Courses to Degree
Curriculum and Requirements
Apply to the M.A. Program

 


Graduate Areas of Study

Today’s art program should provide options for individual self-development. We recognize that the artist’s role has become more complex; technology has opened new frontiers, and divisions between mediums have all but disappeared. During the graduate years, students are expected to work as maturing artists motivated by independent ideas. In the sculpture area at SVAD, students find an atmosphere of stylistic freedom, which allows the realization of their visual concepts.

Sculpture at UofSC occupies more than 4,000 square feet of studio and shop space. Graduate studios are in a building separate from the undergraduate area. Each graduate student has approximately 400 square feet of individual studio space with 24-hour access to their studios and studio equipment. Additionally, due to the generally mild climate, students take advantage of the large covered outdoor working area. The sculpture facilities include equipment appropriate for most sculptural techniques.

Table saws, band saws, scroll saw, radial arm saws, chop saws, drill presses, belt and disc sanders, planer, four mobile oxyacetylene rigs, mig and arc welders, plasma cutter, bench grinders, foundry and mold making area, large metal cutting horizontal band saw, various pneumatic tools, large sandblasting cabinet and mobile pressure pot, forge with treadle hammer, paved, lighted and covered outdoor work area, fork lift, and most major hand and power tools.

The 3D studies faculty is committed to an ongoing program of visiting artists. This policy gives our students exposure to the realities of the professional art world along with a chance to exchange ideas with some of today’s top artists. Visiting artists have included: James Surls, Greg Elliott, William Martin, Nam June Paik, Leo Castelli, William Wegman, Gregory Armanoff, Alfred Leslie, Shaun Cassidy, Robert and Paula Winokur, Norwood Viviano, Bernadette Vielbig, James Alexander, John Douglas Powers, and Jason Ferguson, to name a few.

MFA students' personal interests vary from a strong vessel orientation to sculptural and conceptual art forms in clay. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of ceramic history and contemporary art issues through graduate seminars, guest speakers, and art history classes. The size of our program allows for considerable interaction between students and faculty. 

The drawing program is designed to provide a wide range of drawing experiences and approaches. Class enrollments are limited to ensure one-on-one instruction. UofSC has three dedicated drawing studio classrooms (two for general drawing and one for figure drawing) that are available for students both during classes and during off class hours. Each studio has a high ceiling,  windows, and overhead specialty lighting. The drawing faculty are all exhibiting professional artists and excellent teachers who look forward to working with you to achieve your creative potential. Numerous visiting and adjunct faculty also teach in the drawing area.

It is the mission of the UofSC graphic design faculty to make our students as competitive and prepared for the working world as possible. We want this transition from student to professional to be seamless. 

Graduate graphic design courses teach the theory, history, and practice of visual communications design by providing students a firm foundation in formal and conceptual design. Our courses cover publication and editorial design, logo design and branding, packaging, illustration, poster design, multimedia, motion graphics, and interactive design. 

Graphic design, at its most effective, should communicate intelligently and appropriately to the intended audience. Solving client-based requirements is a major component of the designers' task in our program and in the profession. 

The Graphic Design + Illustration program has four full-time faculty and several instructors that work professionally in the field. Columbia is also home to the South Carolina Chapter of the AIGA, a national organization for professional graphic designers. AIGA SC offers a wide variety of programming that includes internationally- renowned guest speakers, workshops, and special design related events such as a summer design film series.

The painting program is coordinated by two full-time faculty members who are internationally-exhibiting painters. The painting program's focus is to create a community in which students can develop as serious committed artists who express themselves through painting. Our objective is to expose students to the history and aesthetic breadth of the medium, to challenge them to develop their own initiatives and to pursue excellence. Our focus is broad and interdisciplinary, it follows no ideological agenda, yet remains centered in a celebration of the medium of painting.

The photography program at UofSC is run by professor Kathleen Robbins. We offer a classroom with print finishing and display areas, two black and white darkrooms with a total of 20 enlargers (including 3 new Saunders 4x5 VCCE's), a film developing area, and a fully equipped lighting studio. Digital facilities include: film and flatbed scanners, large-format inkjet printers, piezography and archival inkjet output, a comprehensive ICC profile library, and 20 calibrated E-Mac workstations. A selection of cameras and equipment are available for check-out through Media Services. 

In the Studio Art photography program, emphasis is on personal exploration of ideas within the context of contemporary art and critical theory. BFA photography students will explore a variety of techniques & concepts including: advanced black & white printing, medium & large-format, studio lighting, digital imaging, non-silver, early processes, critical theory, and career practices. At the 400-level, students pursue individual projects in depth and work to create a course web gallery and an editioned portfolio project. Additionally, 400-level students complete an individual portfolio and group exhibition.The photography concentration in Studio Art prepares students for a variety of careers including: fine art photographer, educator, curator, critic, gallery owner, and arts administrator.

The M.F.A. degree in photography consists of a 60 hour program of study, which typically takes three years to complete. Successful completion of the program requires an understanding of one's work within the context of critical theory and contemporary art. Upon completion of the degree requirements, students are expected to demonstrate expertise within the field of photography through the exhibition of a substantial body of work.

The Printmaking program is coordinated by Professor Mary Robinson. Our facilities are equipped for all the major printmaking processes: relief, intaglio, serigraphy, lithography, and digital imaging. There are two hand-driven lithograph presses (and many stones to go with them), three hand-driven etching presses, a large vacuum table for screen printing, an exposure unit for large-format screen printing, and a photographic plate maker. There is also a well-equipped computer lab with a large plotter printer.

 In addition to the facilities in McMaster College, there is a variety of letterpress and papermaking equipment in the new UofSC Studio for Book Arts. Along with the presses, there is another large vacuum table for screen printing and a motorized fiber beater for papermaking.The creative atmosphere is one of tradition, experimentation, and variety in terms of format and technique. In addition to creating prints in traditional methods, many students create installations and combine printmaking processes with photography, drawing, painting, or three-dimensional work. There is a strong communal aspect among students and faculty, and a great deal of interaction with the other areas and programs in the School of Visual Art and Design.

 

Accelerated Track in Studio Art

Earn graduate degree credit while enrolled as an undergraduate

If you are a current undergraduate student at UofSC and have 90 credits and at least a 3.4 GPA, you may be able to take up to 12 credits towards the M.A. in Studio Art while still an undergraduate student. Participating in the accelerated Master's program is a separate process from applying to graduate school, and it does not guarantee admission to graduate school. However, accelerated Master’s students who apply to graduate school at UofSC and are accepted are able to start their graduate program in studio art with up to 12 credits already completed.These students complete their graduate coursework earlier, saving time and tuition.

Students who are interested in the accelerated Master’s track in studio art should speak to their undergraduate advisor.

 

Core Faculty

Pam Bowers, M.F.A. / Painting
Brent Dedas, M.F.A.  / Graphic Design + Illustration
Naomi Falk, M.F.A.  / 3D Studies
George Gregory, M.F.A.  / 3D Studies
Mana Hewitt, M.F.A.  / Jewelrymaking
Dawn Hunter, M.F.A.  / Drawing + Painting
Meena Khalili, M.F.A.  / Graphic Design + Illustration
Stephanie Nace, M.F.A.  / Graphic Design + Illustration
Kathleen Robbins, M.F.A.  / Photography
Mary Robinson, M.F.A.  / Printmaking
Sara Schneckloth, M.F.A.  / Drawing
Virginia Scotchie, M.F.A. / Ceramics
Marius Valdes, M.F.A.  / Graphic Design + Illustration
David Voros, M.F.A.  / Painting


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