MFA in Community Practice

This program will focus on the intersections of studio and community-based art making with a strong emphasis on collaborative authorship, social justice, and the role of place as a force in shaping art practices. 

In a shared “learning hub” environment that fosters experiential collaboration, candidates will examine and address the differences between solo practice and project-based community practice from the lens of social theory, practice and applied research. Under the advisement of faculty and mentorship of experts contributing to this discipline, candidates will be engaged in the field as working professionals throughout the duration of the program. Beginning in the first term, a six-week summer intensive through Moore’s partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, candidates will critically examine three Mural Arts projects selected to represent different levels of success. In a course taught by Jane Golden, Mural Arts’ Executive Director, and members of her staff, candidates will explore issues of authorship, social responsibility, ethics, and participant dynamics and debate the legitimacy and effectiveness of community-based art. 

During a second on-campus summer intensive and a required four-week immersive practicum entitled Philadelphia as a Laboratory under the guidance of Mural Arts, candidates will have access to project managers and gain invaluable insight by working alongside activists, community organizers and founders of nonprofit cultural organizations. Candidates will also work independently on research-based projects in self-selected communities. Throughout the program, candidates benefit from the exchange of ideas in shared courses with the MA in Art & Social Engagement and MFA in Studio Art as well as from the exchange of ideas of practitioners and thought leaders working in this emergent field.

“Collaborative art requires its own particular language and approach to critical reflection. Candidates in this program will find opportunities to learn from each other’s contexts as well as the insights from local and international visitors. Summer intensives will offer the chance for shared experiences and to examine works-in-progress that will keep our dialogue and community building continuing throughout the year.” Daniel Tucker, Graduate Program Manager in Social & Studio Practice

Who is an MFA in Community Practice Student at Moore?

This program is for candidates who are interested in establishing a creative practice within a community-based social context who want to foreground collaborative authorship. Candidates will gain the knowledge through experiential opportunities to re-define their work in innovative and interactive ways for public, community-based projects. This degree is for creative practitioners seeking the theoretical, ethical and practical framework needed to successfully enter a life-long practice in the public sphere of individual and collaborative projects.

This program encourages a critical place-based approach to these practices in order for candidates to develop deep engagement in contexts of their choosing. Candidates may reside outside of Philadelphia in the fall and spring and come to Moore for 6 weeks during the summer terms due to the nature of the program’s full-time instruction at that time. 

CANDIDATES MAY INCLUDE:

• Studio Artists wishing to redefine their work within the context of social practice
• Interdisciplinary Artists
• Designers with an interest in social practice
• Performance Artists with an interest in engaging communities

WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR THE THESIS?

Candidates are expected to examine and test collaborative processes by working on research-based projects within self-selected communities outside the summer intensives. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate their ability to synthesize information related to culture, race, ethics and gentrification in order to propose and develop thoughtful art practices. Each candidate will also have the opportunity to develop a proposal and budget that may be executed within the Mural Arts practicum or through the candidate’s own project-based practice. To culminate the degree, a candidate may participate in a symposium and/or public project as well as participating in the thesis exhibition in The Galleries at Moore. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate the impact and efficacy of community-based projects and practices within diverse communities in the written thesis. The thesis exhibition will provide the candidate the opportunity to present evidence of documentation or narratives of their recent work in a public setting.

*Credit: The curatorial collective Never The Same (Skyla Hearn, Daniel Tucker, Rebecca Zorach) unfurl their archive of socially-engaged art in Chicago at the Grassroots Archiving Symposium, Summer 2013. (by Sarah Jane Rhee)