Art M.F.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The Master of Fine Arts in Art is a three-year, sixty credit hour, terminal degree in Studio Art. The program offers students comprehensive experience in critical theory, Art Historical knowledge and context, as well as advanced development in areas of studio specialization (i.e. painting, sculpture, photography, etc.) The Department of Art, through graduate courses, professional exhibition presentations, professional public lectures, and related contemporary arts programming provides students the opportunity to: [1] create and present art in a studio context based on advanced technical skills, creative thinking, and critical analysis of one's work. Equal emphasis is placed upon the creation of artwork and its intellectual, conceptual, and social contexts [2] gain expanded knowledge in Art History, theory, and criticism which offers an informed appreciate of the world's artistic heritage as well as provide contextualization for the student's own creative practice [3] establish the underpinnings and momentum for continued individual professional careers in studio/creative practice and [4] establish the foundation to pursue a career in teaching at the high school/community college/university level, and/or employment in a wide range of art related careers such as arts administration, not-for-profit/city/state arts agencies, museums, and galleries.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to apply in-depth knowledge and competence in one or more areas of specialization (i.e. sculpture, painting, photography).

Student Performance Indicators
  • ART 642 Intermedia Studio encourages the development of working methodologies utilizing interdisciplinary strategies in studio production. The primary activity of this class will be ongoing group critiques of student projects to encourage and develop critical and communication skills that will sustain practice and encourage further innovation and experimentation. This course is required for six credit hours over the span of the degree program.
  • Students are required to maintain engagement throughout each semester with all Thesis Committee members in regards to the development and critical analysis of artworks.
  • The student demonstrates proficiency in the utilization of a range of processes that encompass each student's chosen area(s) of specialization. Students are expected to exhibit sensitivity to, and creativity with chosen medium(s), as well as present demonstrable technical skills, formal and conceptual application, and foundation principles applicable to the area of specialization.
  • ART 710-Graduate Studio Practice involves in-depth studio engagement and critical analysis on an individual study basis with a single faculty each semester. ART 710 is required for a total of 24 credit hours over the span of the degree program.
Assessment Method
  • The Thesis solo exhibition is presented in the final semester of the third year of study. The production and professional presentation of artworks in a gallery setting is accompanied by the written thesis and requires a formal oral defense. The thesis exhibition must present demonstrable technical skills, formal and conceptual awareness, and exemplary knowledge of the principles and theory that encompass the chosen area of concentration. The scope of the exhibition and caliber of artwork is expected to be comparable to the work of professionals in the field.
  • The overall thesis requirements are evaluated by the full Thesis Committee and a final grade is assigned for ART 777 â€" Thesis Exhibition.
  • Faculty members grade student performance in individual course work.
  • The Graduate Director consults with the Thesis Committee Chair and assesses student progress in the program at the conclusion of each semester.
  • Timely production and presentation of completed, high quality artworks that display new insights and working methods are required in order to facilitate on-going instruction, assessment, and evaluation. Studio knowledge and competency are assessed through regularly scheduled coursework (listed above), visiting artist and faculty studio visits and critique sessions, Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy Exhibition (at 30 credit hours), and Thesis Exhibition (presented at the conclusion of the third year.)
  • The Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy solo exhibition is presented in a gallery setting during the third semester as the student approaches thirty-credit hours. Advancement involves critical evaluation and approval of the full Thesis Committee. The Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy exhibition is used to predict the student's readiness to develop and defend a final thesis.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate a critical awareness of one's own works within the larger context of Art History, contemporary art, theory, and practices.

Student Performance Indicators
  • ART 737-Theory and Criticism is a discussion-based seminar that provides an in-depth investigation into critical theory and art criticism in relationship to the history of modern and contemporary art from c. 1850 to the present. The course is devoted to studying scholarly journals; methodologies used to analyze cultural production; history, culture and the current state of art criticism; major topics of contemporary discourse including key philosophers, theorists, historians, critics, and artists; and writing. This course is required for three to six credits over the span of the degree program.
  • ART 698 â€" Seminar in the Visual Arts focuses on reading, discussion and writing related to the position of art and artists in contemporary and historical contexts. The course encourages MFA candidates to further situate themselves in regard to critical theory, cultural perspectives and contemporary practice. This course is required for six credit hours over the span of the degree program.
  • ART 747 â€" Directed Readings is an advanced individual study tutorial course with scheduled one-on-one faculty/student interactions. The readings assigned in this course will provide historical and philosophical context for the student's artwork, and lay the foundation for the written thesis. This course will direct individual students to particularized writings by artists, critics, and theorists as it relates to the student's specific art making interests, focus, and practice. This course is required for three to six credits over the span of the degree program.
  • Students must demonstrate an exemplary ability to analyze, interpret and contextualize a broad range of contemporary and historical art practices. Students will (1) be well versed in critical theory and able to apply knowledge of current trends in context with their own work (2) possess a broad understanding of Art History and ability to apply Art Historical context to their own work and (3) have the ability to express their knowledge both verbally and in writing. The courses listed below involve a broad range of graduate-level reading, writing, discussion and presentation. These courses are required for a total of 12 to 18 credit hours over the span of the degree program.
Assessment Method
  • The student's application of knowledge is evaluated in studio visits and critique sessions that emphasize verbal articulation.
  • The Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy exhibition presentation and subsequent Thesis Committee evaluation require a written artist statement in addition to verbal articulation during mandatory critique.
  • The written thesis, oral defense, and thesis exhibition are expected to present an accomplished assimilation of the physical manifestation of artwork and its intellectual, conceptual, and social contexts. The thesis exhibition and written thesis should contribute in a significant way to the area of inquiry which the student has identified as his or her focus.
  • The overall thesis requirements are evaluated by the full Thesis Committee and a final grade is assigned for ART 777 â€" Thesis Exhibition.
  • Faculty members grade student performance in individual course work.
  • Assessment and valuation of the student's ability to analyze, synthesize, and express knowledge of Art History, contemporary art, theory, and practices occurs in regularly scheduled required course work (listed above), visiting artist and faculty studio visits and critique sessions, Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy Exhibition (at 30 credit hours), and Thesis Exhibition (presented at the conclusion of the third year.)

3. Students will be able to develop and assemble professional materials, documentation and artist portfolio for career development.

Student Performance Indicators
  • Students produce highly organized, well written, and well crafted professional materials including Curriculum Vitae, written artist biography, general artist statement, exhibition statement (relating to a specific body of artwork), and professional photographic documentation of visual artworks. Quality professional materials are required in applications for exhibition, scholarships, grants, artist residency programs, and/or art career employment.
Assessment Method
  • The student demonstrates an understanding of the principles and elements of professional representation, including writing, visual documentation, and portfolio materials in the following: (1) The Department of Art offers a competitive MFA scholarship application every spring. The scholarship application process, paired with a workshop, provides an opportunity for the student to learn how to put together professional quality, competitive application materials. Students must present a scholarship application that organizes their academic/research/creative activity materials in such a way that can be used for other purposes such as outside grants, artist residency programs and college-level teaching applications. Scholarship awards are merit-based and are evaluated by a committee made up of Department of Art faculty and one senior/third-year MFA graduate student representative. (2) Professional materials (documentation of artwork, written artist biography, general artist statement and exhibition statement) for exhibition announcements and press releases are required for the Mid-Way Advancement to Candidacy and Thesis exhibitions. These materials are assessed and approved by the Thesis Committee, and when appropriate, the Director of University Galleries prior to dissemination. (3) Exhibition statements are generally presented with the artwork at the gallery during exhibition. (4) The Thesis exhibition gallery presentation requires a professional, public artist lecture. The student must prepare and present an organized, well produced visual lecture that includes visual documentation of their artworks and verbal articulation intended to convey critical information, history, background, and theories related to their personal research/creative practice. The lecture is intended to be educational to the audience and provides the student experience in civic engagement.