What a year! Or, more accurately, what a couple of years. That is the span of an MFA cohort, and this one, the class of 2021, faced a massive cultural shift provoked by the pandemic early on. This group was confronted with not only campus and studio closures, but dynamic shifts happening in real time at art institutions and museums, their funding sources, and their address of race and representation. These artists are entering a future where business will not be usual, where art world conventions are being stopped in their tracks. Working within the sphere of conversation and experimentation of an art college may have been a better context to be, this being a place to engage in the rethinking of the arts within a broader community of artists, thinkers, and mentors.
There is so much to reconsider! How do we make art when we are told to shelter in place? How do we rethink our mediums? How do we share our work with the public if gallery access is limited? How do we move forward with optimism?
I'm not going to suggest that facing these questions was easy. We didn't immediately pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, smile and confidently know what was next. The conversations were difficult, each option, it seemed, opened up chasms of bigger questions. But approaching them is also exciting.
This was the first full year of classes held on Zoom, we looked at and talked about art virtually, in depth. This required adjustment, organization, struggle, and creative thinking. That's what artists do.
To their substantial credit, the artists in this program stuck with it. One of the most gratifying things about the last year is to see how the students expressed their resilience and rolled with the punches (of which there were many). They embraced, or at least tolerated, restrictions that were out of our control. If they were stuck at home unable to engage in their primary medium, they shifted scale and worked in their kitchens or living rooms, drawing, sewing, animating on their tablets. They tapped into, and responded to, the new digital conventions (the online shows, the social distance, the various workarounds). They had to express themselves, reveal their doubts and sometimes their cluttered kitchen tables or their pets who might have jumped up to see the grid of faces on the computer screen. We had more one-on-one conversations. We got to engage with a wide range of artists and curators from around the world, a true silver lining to online learning. Discussions revolved around alternate forms of presentation, how to keep working and also to work less when needed, and how to imagine the material possibilities when we are together in a room again. It was clear that it would take a lot more than this to stop these artists from wholeheartedly engaging their practices.
The material on this website is evidence of their pluck and reinvention. The artists on this website are presenting their practices thoughtfully, offering visual evidence and their own words. We are proud of their achievements and their willingness to move forward with their work, all the stronger for having made it through this undeniably 'interesting' chapter in history-- and in their lives as artists.
-- Glen Helfand, Kim Nguyen, Marina Pugliese
Maia Cruz Palileo
Alex Da Corte
Woody De Othello
Summer Mei Ling Lee
on photographing artwork
on artist statements
on how to install artwork
Vivian Sming and Kandis Williams
on artist publications
on public art
Contributing Editor at Frieze and independent curator, Milan
independent curator, New Mexico; formerly Senior Curator of the Toronto Biennial
Independent curator, New York; formerly Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Assistant Curator, Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA
Curator, National Gallery of Singapore
Curator, Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
Senior Curator, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai
Independent curator, Los Angeles
The Graduate Fine Arts Program at California College of the Arts attracts an international cohort of emerging artists to work with renowned faculty and distinguished visitors in the culturally diverse San Francisco Bay Area. The two-year MFA program is characterized by a culture of critique, studio making, and social engagement.
2020–2021 faculty include Kim Anno, Dodie Bellamy, Meg Bisineer, Anthea Black, Monica Bravo, Nelson Chan, Susanne Cockrell, Brian Conley, Kota Ezawa, Josh Faught, Mia Feuer, Jeanne Finley, Ren Fiss, Linda Geary, James Gobel, Barney Haynes, Glen Helfand, Angela Hennessy, Anthony Huberman, David Huffman, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Clay Jensen, Jordan Kantor (Chair), Lynn Marie Kirby, Jaime Knight, Christina Linden, Nathan Lynch, Elizabeth Mangini, Aspen Mays, Ranu Mukherjee, Michelle Murillo, Kim Nguyen, Alison O’Daniel, Maria Porges, Marina Pugliese, Clifford Rainey, Peter Simensky, Allison Smith, Keith Thomas, Mark Thompson, Deborah Valoma, Sam Vernon, James Voorhies, Christine Wang, and Karla Wozniak.