… the kind of competition that exists in a normal MFA program – I don’t see it here… incredible bonds develop out of Transart, the intensity and intimacy is of such a level that it can last a lifetime.

Mary Ting

Mary Ting
About Mary Ting

Mary Ting's artwork has been exhibited extensively in the U.S. and abroad. Mary currently teaches sculpture, drawing and paper, 2D/3D, and Bookarts for Pratt Manhattan, SUNY at Nassau Community College and CUNY. She lives and works in New York City.

INTRODUCTION

The Unschool Art School
Unschooling as a term refers to learning through life experience rather than in an institutional framework. The Wikipedia entry is a good initial read. Unschooling refers to re-thinking and re-imagining the institution of learning beginning with it’s orientation which in this time and age needs to be student-centered. Transart grew out of our dissatisfaction with established institutional education based on models of control and discipline where pre-formed and pre-formatted knowledge is passed on to many students usually all in the same way. We thought and still think education should work the other way around: a multitude of models and input to choose from. Students decide what they want to do and the institute supports their goals with input and resources. We favour a mulit-perspective approach: critiques, evaluations, contextualizing your work, everything is done from as many perspectives as possible. The British educational system while highly regulated supports us well as it allows us to deliver an entire program without grades and provides a second set of eyes to look over everything that is being assessed. Most artists that come to our program have a pretty good idea where they want to go. Transart is basically a framework or vehicle to get there. Not that there aren’t any surprises along they way but in the end it is a student-driven program. You need to be self-motivated, inquisitive, and inspired to thrive here.

 

Purpose
The program is intended to lift the boundaries between applied and fine arts, traditional and new media, artists and scholars. The program aims to create a space for students of all disciplines to interact with a wide range of artists, scientists, theorists, media practitioners and visionaries. Students investigate their work independently and transdisciplinarily in both a cultural and studio context. Whatever genres students choose to work in, the program is designed to: enrich students’ praxis; foster change; facilitate a connection between group and personal work; provide the means for contextualizing work in the wider world; and develop interaction strategies with audiences.

Location
Transart Institute’s low-residency MFA is an international program. Summer intensives take place in cooperation with arts organizations in Europe. This summer’s residency location will be Tanzfabrik in Berlin. Fall residencies take place in New York at various arts initiatives and galleries. Transart Institute provides a range of accommodation listings and arranges a special group rate at a student hotel each summer as well as student travel and city guides. Most students prefer to stay together but students make their own arrangements for travel, accommodations and meals during the residencies so many options are available. Travel info can be found >> here.

Language
The on-site part of the low-residency program takes place in English. Many languages are spoken but courses, critiques and lectures all take place in English. Students must have a very good command of spoken English. Student off-site semester work can take place in any language that the student and their advisors have in common. All administrative paper work (including student and faculty evaluations) must be in English. If English is not their first language, students may be required to provide a TOEFL with a score (iBT) of 52 or better.

Facilities, Equipment and Resources
Studio and production spaces for workshops and a Macintosh computer station with scanner and printer fulfill the institute’s summer residency needs. Online databases and library resources include: Art Full Text (Wilson), ART bibliographies Modern (CSA), JSTOR, Project Muse, Web of Science, Dawsonera, and Oxford Art Online.

Degree Requirements
Completion of three residencies and the six modules that make up the first and second year studio plus research project along with a successful review of the final project presentation in the graduate show lead to the MFA award. A post graduate diploma (PGDip) can be awarded to students who complete 120 U.K. credits (60 ECTS/30CR) in the low-residency program. Please see “program structure and credits” below.

Achievement
Each year, students create art projects (i.e. a film or video, an installation, a concert, a campaign, a performance, a website, a documented intervention, a book of photographs, etc.) and write a supporting research paper or creative response reflecting their research. Graduating students publicly exhibit or present documentation of their final art and research projects. Students gain the critical, technological, and aesthetic experiences essential to creating informed and vital, content-driven work. Graduates acquire the means necessary for independent thinking, innovative work, active dialogues, and agile resourcefulness, in order to create a meaningful and sustainable praxis.

Community
Alumni of the low-residency MFA continue to participate in intensives by giving and receiving critiques, exhibiting, acting as program advisors, and as members of the newly formed Transart International Exhibition Collective.

History
Transart Institute was founded in 2004 by two artists. The low-residency MFA in New Media program was accredited by the Austrian Ministry of Education and Culture through Donau University Krems, Krems, Austria and the first summer residency was held in 2005 with an international body of 25 students and eight faculty. The current low-residency MFA Creative Practice is accredited through the School of Art and Media at the University of Plymouth in the UK.

SEMESTERS OFF SITE

Independent Study
Students work intensively in the summer and fall residencies on-site with faculty, artists, curators, media practitioners, writers and theorists. Between residencies, students work one-on-one off-site with research advisors by correspondence and self-chosen studio advisors in an exchange which includes a minimum of two intensive critique meetings or studio visits each semester.

Study Plan
Students prepare individual art and research project plans with the input from faculty in individual planning sessions throughout the residency as their ideas develop, submitting a two semester project plan for approval at the end of the residency. Students have the opportunity to make adjustments to their plans up to the mid-term to accommodate change and growth.

Guidance Committee
Students call group meetings at the beginning of each semester with their advisors to discuss the student’s projects, ensuring a vital and informed connection between the research and studio components of the work. Additional meetings can be called throughout the semester by student or advisor as needed.

Critique Groups
Alumni-lead student critique groups formed at the summer residency continue through the semesters either in person or through virtual channels. In addition to the four individual critique sessions with their advisors, students receive two critiques with alumni in their student critique groups.

RESIDENCIES ON SITE

Summer Residencies
The three summer residencies are both milestones and resources, taking place at the beginning middle and end of the two year program. Each residency begins with closure to the previous year’s studies through intensive critiques, exhibitions, presentation and performances. With new students, work done prior to commencing the program is presented, examined and discussed. Residencies open with the graduate exhibition, performances and a public vernissage. Weeks one and three consist of studio workshops, week two focuses on cultural studies seminars, Fridays center on student presentations. In addition, guest lectures, artist and curator talks and critiques as well as individual meetings with faculty take place each week in order for students to plan, inform and finalize the coming year’s project plans. This summer’s schedule can be found in the calendar.

Fall Residencies
Four day residencies take place at the end of the fall semester. The focus is on presentations, critiques, feedback and the sharing of resources mid-way through studio and research projects. Students have the opportunity to exhibit work in conjunction with their presentations in order to explore exhibition and documentation possibilities in anticipation of the summer thesis exhibition. Guest artist talks, screenings and practical topical workshops (i.e. the art of the artist talk, professional development, teaching application, funding and grant writing, and technical studio courses) complete the residency. This fall’s schedule can be found in the calendar.

Presentations
Students participate in project presentations and critiques with residency faculty and alumni. Students present in three thirty minute formats: in the plenum with faculty, in a group of six students which continues throughout the semesters, and two individual sessions with faculty thus getting the benefits of many different perspectives on their work. Issues of delivery, content, aesthetics, technique, audience, media, genre, gender, culture and process are discussed, resources are shared and students learn to present their work progressively in two, five, ten and then fifteen minute presentations to audiences of varied size and purpose.

Seminar
Students partake in one elected cultural studies seminar per residency. Seminars which are the cultural studies equivalent of the workshops help students put their work in context and find ways to inform their art projects through research while also getting practice articulating new ideas, exploring new ways of thinking and making connections through discussions and critiques. Seminars are chosen from current cultural topics viewed through the lens of media studies, literature, sociology, philosophy and art history.

Workshops
Students participate in two elected studio workshops per residency. Workshops are not intended to further technical virtuosity but to enhance creativity by exposing students to new approaches to working in various genres. It is recommended that students work with what they are technically familiar with for these sessions. Students should bring their own tools, whatever they like to work with i.e. cameras, powerbooks, sketch pads. Scanners, video projectors and printers will be available.

Exhibition
Students experiment with exhibition and performance possibilities at the fall residencies in preparation for the summer Transartfest. As appropriate to the nature of the thesis project, students have the option to exhibit, perform or document their projects with shared spaces for digital presentations, reading and listening.

MFA PROGRAM STRUCTURE AND CREDITS

Year 1

Summer Residency + Semester 1
MCP 501 Independent Study Project 30 CR = Studio project semester 1
Start: summer residency 1
Input: project planning, two workshops, two advisor meetings, one guidance committee meeting
Assessment: after presentation at fall residency

MCP 503 Independent Research Project 30 CR = Research project semester 1
Start: summer residency 1
Input: seminar, research planning, two faculty advisor meetings, one guidance committee meeting
Assessment: after presentation at fall residency

Fall Residency + Semester 2
MCP 502 Independent Study Project 30 CR = Studio project semester 2
Start: fall residency 1
Input: group critique, two advisor meetings, one guidance committee meeting
Assessment: after presentation at summer residency 2

MCP 504 Independent Research Project 30 CR = Research project semester 2
Start: fall residency 1
Input: group critique, two advisor meetings, one guidance committee meeting
Assessment: after presentation at summer residency 2
(PGDip awarded if not continuing on to MFA)

Year 2

Summer Residency + Semesters 3+4 (Thesis Year)
MCP 505 Independent MFA Project 60 CR = Studio project semesters 3+4
Start: summer residency 2
Input: project planning, two workshops, four advisor meetings, two guidance committee meeting
Assessments: intermediary at fall residency, final after presentation at summer residency 3

Summer Residency + Semesters 3+4 (Thesis Year)
MCP 506 Independent MFA Research 60 CR = Research project semesters 3+4
Start: summer residency 2
Input: seminar, research planning, four faculty advisor meetings, two guidance committee meeting
Assessments: intermediary at fall residency, final after presentation at summer residency 3

Mikkel Niemann004The program does attract strong and experienced artists which makes for very interesting discussions at the crits. With less experienced students one cannot do that. — Mikkel Niemann, Transart MFA Student