Master of Fine Arts Course Outline
Whitecliffe Master of Fine Arts students are enrolled in New Zealand’s premier low-residency postgraduate visual arts programme. They experience intelligent debate, rigorous critique, and high quality encounters with exceptional artists from New Zealand and overseas, graduating with the skills to become leaders in their chosen field.
The MFA is built around a comprehensive programme of supervised studio research and contextual studies requiring self-directed learning and continuing professional development. The principal aims are for students to extend their established creative capacity, develop critical skills and foster a mature understanding of the relationships between their work and contemporary culture. The intensive format of the seminars is structured around themed discussions, guest artist presentations, exhibition visits and studio critique.
The MFA programme consists of four inter-related elements:
Intensive 5-6 day Seminars
Held four times annually, enable students to engage in critical dialogue with peers, supervisors and significant local and international artists, take ownership of the production, installation and contextualisation of their work, and to have informal contact with guest artists through artist talks and discussion groups.
Supervised Self-directed Study
Students work on their research in their own space, in contact with supervisors via studio visits, email and ongoing contributions to blogs and discussion groups.
Relevant Contextual Research
80% of the programme is studio research and 20% is contextual research. Students produce evidence of their contextual research through:
- An oral presentation in their final semester outlining research direction and emphasis
- A blog site showcasing analysis of influential modes of practice and critical debate
- A printed catalogue containing critical essays and photographic evidence of key projects
The final MFA exhibition, attended by art dealers, critics, curators and other arts professionals, is the most significant event in the programme - the point at which an international artist or critic helps the internal panel assess each student’s research on its sophistication, critical awareness and professionalism. It is the springboard for our graduates to move from the educational sphere
An appropriate undergraduate degree or equivalent educational or professional experience.
Key Information for Students
Noel IvanoffHOD Master of Fine Arts
Noel completed his undergraduate studies at the School of Art, Otago Polytechnic before completing a certificate in advanced studies at St Martins School of Art in London.Continue reading
Yolunda HickmanSupervisor - Master of Fine Arts
Yolunda completed her BFA at Whitecliffe College in 2009 and holds an MFA from Elam.Continue reading
Jacquie PhippsAcademic Director - Postgraduate Studies
Jacquie graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelors of Arts (Hons.) in English Literature with supporting studies in Classical Studies and Art History.Continue reading
Where could this programme take you?
A Master of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe is a great step towards a professional career as an artist. Many of our graduates have gone on to achieve exactly that, here and abroad. But a fine arts training also prepares graduates for a wide range of careers, giving them essential skills for a modern jobs market: the abilities to think creatively and flexibly; to work independently or collaboratively; to respond constructively to criticism, and to participate in intelligent debate. Our emphasis on business skills – such as budgeting, marketing, career management and public relations – also prepares graduates for some of the more pragmatic aspects of life after study. The most important things we do for our students are preparing them for lifelong creative work, and helping them develop the attributes that will make them leaders within their communities. And as the creative industries continue to grow, we find that more and more of our graduates are carving out unique career paths.
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Download the Whitecliffe Prospectus
Find out everything you need to know including study options, career opportunities, intake dates, fees and how to apply.
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