A note from the program directors
Thank you for your interest in the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts (MFAIA). Our program is a dynamic, intensive and low-residency MFA designed to support the professional development of artists with a broad diversity of life and artistic experience. With two program sites, one at Goddard College’s historic campus in Plainfield, Vermont and the other in the vibrant arts community of Port Townsend, Washington, the MFAIA is designed to meet the learning needs of artists working in a variety of traditions, including the visual arts, design, dance, music, theater, social practice, performance, and the literary arts. This letter is intended to answer many common questions we receive about the program. During the application process, faculty, admissions officers, and students or recent alumni are available to answer your specific questions in detail.
Is this the right program for me? Students arrive in our program with broad aspirations and life experience, and no single curriculum could support the learning goals of our diverse community. The MFAIA is designed to support students’ specific learning goals—including those of emerging artists, established professional practitioners, and those looking to advance or broaden their practice in a supportive context—through the development of an individualized study plan. Each student’s study plan begins with consideration of previous life and professional experience and develops with the student’s unique goals in mind. Ultimately each student pursues a personalized education within a sympathetic community of artists and learners. Our learning community’s vitality comes from students’ and advisors’ willingness to share experiences and resources across a range of artistic traditions, cultivating a fertile ground for creative and intellectual collaboration.
What’s a residency like? The eight days we spend on campus are a combination of an artist residency, dynamic academic symposium, and contemplative retreat. Residencies are not only focused on making art, but also on the critical reflection, thinking, and planning that enables artmaking. Each residency has four overlapping elements:
- Welcoming and orienting new students
- Recognizing the wisdom and accomplishments of graduating students
- Engaging in a dynamic program of presentations, workshops and seminars
- Planning for the upcoming semester
- Like all aspects of the program, students participate in the residency programming that best supports their specific learning goals, and as required to complete their study plan.
What do you mean by interdisciplinary? Contemporary artistic practices, while drawing on disciplinary traditions, are by nature increasingly interdisciplinary. We believe that new knowledge, meaning, and human possibility exist in the spaces between traditional areas of artistic and academic inquiry. Students not only have the opportunity to work across artistic traditions, but the MFAIA also emphasizes broader interdisciplinary inquiry, enabling students to experience the transformational possibilities that emerge from dialogue among art and science, social science, humanities, and other systems of knowledge.
What’s self-directed learning? What’s advising? Based on your unique interests, intentions, and professional goals, a faculty advisor works with you one-to-one during the residency to design your individualized course of study, and supports the pursuit of your goals over the 15-week semester. Five times during the semester, you will document your progress toward the completion of your study plan. In the form of a written response, sometimes in concert with a video or telephone call, your advisor will respond to your progress, challenging you to develop your vision while providing personalized feedback, guidance, and support.
What is a semester like? In addition to working one-to-one with your faculty advisor, the program provides opportunities for collaborative learning. In the form of group studies, informal peer seminars, and collaborative projects, students and faculty work together to pursue shared goals and focused inquiry into topics that emerge from the community’s learning needs. Recent collaborative learning opportunities have included a group study focused on the relationship between artmaking and critical writing; a workshop on ecoaesthetics and perceptual ecology; a series of meetings in New York City in which participants created and shared new time- and/or site-based works; and a semester-long group study focused on teaching and artists as researchers.
How does the program help me pursue my professional goals? Because the program is low-residency, it allows you to continue your professional pursuits and it integrates the development of your lifelong practice in the contexts in which you want to live and work. In addition to supporting your individualized goals, the range of professional experience, perspectives and resources represented amongst students, alumni, and faculty provides opportunities for professional networking and collaboration. We also engage in regular conversations on careers in education and progressive teaching strategies. Students and faculty frequently pursue opportunities to collaboratively present, perform, exhibit, and publish.