Graduate Programs

Studio Art (Summer Low-Residency MFA)

MICA's M.F.A. in Studio Art Summer Low-Residency (MFAST) program is designed for experienced artists who want to pursue graduate study without disrupting their ongoing careers.

The emphasis of the MFAST is in integrating practice with theory, where students are encouraged to be independent thinkers and researchers who may focus on one specific medium or work across various media.

Program Overview

MFAST students complete their graduate studies over three years plus one summer. Each year, students come to MICA for an intensive six-week summer residency combined with independent work during the academic year and a return to campus for a short winter session. During the time that students are not on campus, they keep in touch with their dedicated faculty mentor through distance learning tools. Intensity and length of the program help to create a strong community of peers and a network of visiting artists, critics, and alumni that truly influence the students thinking and practice.

Areas of concentration include the full range of contemporary art practices; students may focus on one specific medium or work across various media. Although the program promotes interdisciplinary approaches to art production students are encouraged to work in ways most appropriate to their individual research.

Individual studios and a broad array of academic resources and facilities are provided for all the students while they are in residence during the summer session. Candidates must develop their own studio facilities for use during the academic year. Exhibition space is provided for group shows and individual thesis shows during the summer.

Each candidate is assigned a faculty mentor based on the work submitted for admission. These faculty mentors the student for the duration of the program. More feedback comes from a visiting critic who also meets with the students weekly during the summer. Finally, there is a different visiting artist or critic each week during the summer session as well as during the winter critique.

Who Should Apply

This low-residency program is intended for a broad range of experienced artists, teachers, and other art professionals who wish to expand their understanding of contemporary art through an engagement with extensive studio practice while developing a conceptual framework for their work.

Jacob Rowan's (MFAST '19) Solo Exhibition "Edifice and Alchemy"

"Edifice and Alchemy," opened is on view from February 22 through March 25, 2020 in the Bitsy Irby Visual Art and Dance Center Art Gallery at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Rowan's practice is built around investigating what he terms "edificial epistemologies"—humanity’s efforts to construct knowledge into mental and physical architectures in a search for truth and transcendence. His research materials span from ancient cosmologies to speculative fictions and the myriad of philosophies, theologies, and aesthetics between. The scaffolding guiding the construction of this installation is an ongoing modular drawing. On these modules Rowan maps, diagrams, and notates his research into a labyrinthine puzzle of references and structures that serve as semantic gestures. For Rowan, drawing is thinking. It is a method of transcribing the intangibilities of thought into material substance. Like thoughts, Rowan's modular drawings can be endlessly reconfigured, separated, dispersed, replaced, and updated.

Suzy Kopf’s (MFAST ‘16 ) Solo Show at International Arts & Artists at Hillyer

Suzy Kopf was recently featured in a solo show at IA&A at Hilyer, Washington, DC.  Kopf’s work for the show was inspired by two trips the artist took to Puerto Rico’s Levittown, a suburb of San Juan, both pre and post Hurricane Maria. Between 1947 and the early 1970s the real-estate developers Levitt Brothers built more than 140,000 houses in towns they named after themselves in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico. These well-preserved mid century homes have largely been saved by their owners and still stand as both a testament to the United States’ ongoing colonialism of the Caribbean and a physical embodiment of a cross-cultural version of the American Dream of homeownership for the masses. Through her watercolors, oil paintings and large-scale sculpture, Kopf asks her viewer to scrutinize previously overlooked subjects for their problematic origins.

The title of the show, “Bow and Arrow,” was taken from the name for the design of the breeze blocks, decorative cinderblocks made of cement, used throughout the world to promote airflow and create a sense of partial privacy between public and private spaces. They are a shorthand for mid century leisure and design ideals. By making the to-scale blocks out of readily available lightweight housing insulation, Kopf adds her own questions to the familiar form. A student of the school of the American hyperreal— our national conflation and acceptance of a symbol for the real thing— Kopf asks us, in this era of fake news, will Americans continue to define ourselves by what we want to be true rather than reality? What does the mid century promise of prosperity for all mean in a late capitalist society?

Rachel Hubbard Kline (MFAST ‘19) Solo Exhibition “Symbiosis”

Rachel Hubbard Kline will be exhibiting her work of fragmented tiles and vessels at Cerbera Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri. The exhibition opens on March 6 and runs through March 28, 2020. This collection of work explores the wistfulness of personal connections to historical domestic objects and material culture. Rachel’s work seeks symbiosis in the relationship of surfaces to forms and addresses the hierarchy of importance between the form itself and the image or decoration.

The fragmented tiles reference early American quilt patterns and ceramic tiling. By pressing newspaper advertising mats from the 1950s into clay slabs, Rachel makes ephemeral advertisements and outdated means of technology a permanent record.

Stephanie Garon's Solo Exhibition "(De)composition"

Stephanie Garon’s (MFAST '22) exhibition “(De)composition” will be on view at the DC Arts Center in Washington, DC through March 22, 2020.

Stephanie’s work contains industrial elements juxtaposed with natural materials. While deceptively formal, the resulting artworks are ecologically motivated interventions. The physical process of decomposition becomes evident as the pieces change over time, emphasizing the fragility of nature. Rich in associations, her work functions as abstracted expressions of a time, place, and way of life. The resulting artwork is a visualization of an uneasy truce: the fragile balance between nature and humanity.

The exhibition closes with an artist talk on March 22, 2020 at 5 pm. There will be an artist panel discussion featuring Mike Dax Iacovone on March 4, 2020 from 7-9 pm.

Mike Dax Iacovone (‘09) and Billy Friebele (‘ 08) participate in “Applied Forces” exhibition at Arlington Arts Center

“Applied Forces” is on view through March 28, 2020 at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia. The exhibition focuses on the collision of forces, bodies, objects, and spaces. For this exhibition, Michael Dax Iacovone has created an on-site land drawing and has included photographs and video from large-scale interventions in the deserts of Nevada and Utah completed over the last three summers. Billy Friebele’s contributions include drawings, videos, and a new kinetic sound piece that rotates slowly, periodically pouring water back and forth between two plastic bottles.

Solo Show for Recent Alumna Nikki Brooks

Nikki Brooks (MFAST '19) created an immersive art experience in her solo show "Between Ourselves," exhibited at the Prince George's African American Museum and Cultural Center. Nikki examined the assimilation of black people to white culture, the affirmation that comes from identifying with the black community, as well as the alienation and rejection from that come from that same community.

Natalia Gonzalez (MFAST '11) Participates in Two Biennials

Natalia Gonzalez, an MFAST alumna and Bolivian native, recently participated in two biennials, one in Cochabamba. Bolivia and the other in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 

Natalia contributed "Brecha de mecanografía (Type-Gap)", a montage of colliding texts that stage the multi-valence of words and the possibilities of nonsense, to the sixth version of the Contextos Contemporary Art Biennial, UTOPÍA / DISTOPÍA, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. (image below)

Solange Roberdeau (MFAST '12) Has Solo Show at Medocino Art Center

Solange Roberdeau's work using metal leaf and ink is featured in the exhibition "Moments in Time" at the Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, California through January 4, 2020.

Solange makes drawings that emphasize slowing down and seeking out the creative potential in our immediate environments. Informed by natural phenomena and material processes, this exhibition consciously promotes a tension between serendipity and control, which is expressed through the pairing of organic with geometric mark-making.

Working with 21K gold and copper leaf, sumi ink, acrylic and chalk on wood and paper, Solange's drawings speak to the fluid nature of perception. They are existential records of being in a place and with its details, of human gesture and exploration through materiality and form.

Bart O'Reilly (MFAST '12) Mounts Solo Exhibition

Bart O’Reilly’s exhibition of paintings and drawings from the last two years, “Empathy with Branches,” is on view through January 5, 2020 at Marketview Arts Gallery at York College, York, Pennsylvania. Bart is an Irish artist based in Baltimore, MD. His work is interdisciplinary with a focus on painting, video, and poetry. Driven primarily by formal considerations, the work in this exhibition explores the ever-shifting relationship between what we perceive and what we claim to know.

Kristen Letts Kovak (MFAST '10) - "Trumpet to the Tulips"

“Every once in a while one should do a crazy experiment, like blowing the trumpet to the tulips every morning for a month. Probably nothing would happen, but what if it did?” –George Darwin

The exhibition “Trumpet to the Tulips,” curated by Kristen Letts Kovak, features paintings on which Kristen collaborated with Sarah Jacobs, and Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann. There was only one rule for adding to the collaboration: do something atypical and see what happens. The show is on view at “Space” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from November 16th 2019 through March 15th 2020. There will be a gallery crawl and opening on January 24, 2020 from 5:30-10 pm.
The collaborating artists write, “the paintings in this exhibition are a combination of our independent and collective voices. There are paintings created before our first meeting, artworks produced in response to the game, and collaborative paintings shipped between cities where we worked directly on top of each other’s marks. Additionally, there are a large number of works created within the last year that reflect how each of our painting practices has shifted as a result of our collaboration. We each blew our trumpets in counterpoint and a collective melody emerged.”

Below image from Trumpet to the Tulips - "Touchy-Feely," by Sarah Jacobs

Touchy-Feely by Sarah Jacobs

Solo Drawing Exhibition - Kristen Letts Kovak (MFAST '10)

Kristen Letts Kovak (MFAST ’10) presented her drawings in a solo exhibition entitled “White Noise” at York College, York, Pennsylvania, from November 1-23, 2019.

Of the work, Kristen says “this body of work is a visual meditation on intense observation. Instead of filtering through the noise to arrive at clarity, I record my visual aberrations and tangents. The marks convey so many contradictory points of focus that realities become intertwined and individual signification is lost. Even nuance is reduced to a hum of animated white noise. The drawn forms vacillate between object and atmosphere (fact and context) to create a cacophonous volume so loud as to become deafeningly quiet.”

Solo Exhibit for Mary Stuart Hall (MFAST '20)

Mary Stuart Hall (MFAST ‘20) is exhibiting her sculptural installation “Sympathetic Dissonance,” in the Carlos Gallery at The University of the South from October 21 through December 12, 2019. In this work Hall explores a phenomenon known as sympathetic resonance, where under certain conditions, bringing a ringing tuning fork nearby can make a silent tuning fork begin to ring. Illustrating the materiality of sound in space, Sympathetic Dissonance considers how the idea and reality of encountering a landscape can be incongruous. The installation relies on the complex experience of a place and space to create a contrast between the idea of a place, an imaginary landscape, and the sensational experience of the material world.
Hall states, “The distance sound travels can define a space in ways that walls or lines on a map cannot. Political boundaries have evolved as lines often divorced from the everyday experience of a place. In contrast to a binary expression separating here from there, an ancient Germanic tradition defines the boundary of a town with a church bell. Any person hearing the bell is inside the town. By using sound to define a boundary, the perceptual experience of a place is incorporated in its existence. One could even be in two places at once.” Sympathetic Dissonance complicates the understanding of how we measure space and define a place.

Kate Hooray Osmond (MFAST '19) Solo Show

Kate Hooray Osmond’s solo show “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” runs from Nov. 1-23 at the Miller Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. The work in the show originated with Kate’s MFA thesis work presented this summer. Kate describes the connection between her current show and her thesis work in an interview with the “Charleston City Paper”:

“It featured 59 painted panels on 59 canvases, placed in a circle. In the center were 6,000 dominoes. ’It was my model of the universe," says Osmond. The panels were images of the Charleston area, AK-47s, schools, nuclear waste facilities, "everything that could be in a landscape.’

‘The idea for this project,’ says Osmond, ‘was creating a model for a child to go into and understand the workings of the universe so they wouldn't be afraid.’

The panels will be displayed differently at the Miller Gallery, separate from one another instead of in a circle. "All the panels will be in a different order to display energy and change without change; they're endlessly rearrangeable," says Osmond.”

Sarabel Santos Negrón (MFAST ‘19) exhibits at the University of Virginia

Sarabel Santos Negrón (MFAST ‘19) has recently shown her work “Groundscapes Displaced” during the “Coasts in Crisis: Art and Conversation after Recent Hurricanes” event at the Environmental Resilience Institute at the University of Virginia. The event poses the question “Why do the arts matter after a hurricane?” Artists participating in “Coasts in Crisis” performed, displayed and discussed their work forged out of the experiences common to climate refugees and hurricane survivors: homelessness, forced migration, family separation, food insecurity, and living without electricity or running water. Sarabel’s work addressed ongoing displacement; in her own words, “Two years after María, this piece continues displacing in memory of all the floors, homes and lives that we lost as a result of the hurricane.”

Sarabel will also be a visiting lecturer for the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University on November 20th, 2019.

Howard El-Yasin (MFAST '16) Featured in "Connecticut Art Review"

Howard el-Yasin, class of 2016, is featured in the October, 2019 studio visit series of "The Connecticut Art Review." Jacquelyn Gleisner writes of Howard’s early forays into art and how his exposure to Eva Hesse’s work informed his desire to make “ugly work, once cited as raw by a critic, and....embracing it.” In the MFAST program at MICA, Howard “...became much more attuned to conversations about identity, which is central to my work,” although Howard prefers his work “to be open-ended, not a finite statement about his own experiences.” Howard’s work continues to utilize discarded and unconventional materials, such as the dryer lint and desiccated banana peels seen in the photos below. For a current work in progress, Howard explores the color black with a selection of discarded objects. In the article, Howard’s explains that the work is about much more than the “racial energy” contained in the color black: “the objects embody a poetic spectrum of blackness by exhibiting a full range of textures...[the] collection is a metaphor for the multiplication of existence.”

Left Space Show

34 MFAST alumni, faculty, and current students tackled an industrial space for the "Left Space" pop-up show on October 5-6, 2019. The empty seventh floor of 1100 Wicomico Street in Baltimore hosted contemporary art installations for two days, with an opening reception on the afternoon of October 5. Bart O’Reilly (‘12)) organized the exhibit, which included the work of the following artists: Damon Arhos (‘17), Erin Barach (‘14), Shannon Brinkley (‘20), Nikki Brooks (‘19), Samia Bzioui (‘22), Sarah Clough (‘17), Joe Corcoran (‘21), Mark Dixon (‘12), Chas Foster (‘12), Lauri Hafvenstein (‘20), Emily Hager (‘19), Christian Hall (‘12), Michelle Lisa Herman (‘20), Fritz Horstman (‘11, Cassandra Kapsos (‘11), Denese King-Ashley (‘21), Suzy Kopf (‘16), Caryn Martin (‘17), Liz Miller (‘20), Katie Morris (‘18), Bart O’Reilly (‘12), Kirk Palmer (‘16), Dianne Pappas (‘12), Jassie Rios (‘11), Rebecca Rivas Rogers (‘18), Solange Roberdeau (‘12), David Salgado (‘21), Rolf Sjogren (‘22), Anna Skarbek (‘18), Wendy Tribulski (‘21), Renee van der Stelt, Elena Volkova (‘07), Ashleigh Wink (‘19), and Jean Yang (‘15).