"The only word an artist needs to hear is 'Yes'." – Gertrude Stein
In the MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts, we believe that art-making is a pioneering, transformative act that moves, often changes, sometimes revolutionizes culture. To achieve this, we ask our artists to become more aware, reflective, and adept, willing to expand their skills and capacities and able to place their own work within a creative inquiry that takes them more deeply into the nature and meaning of their art. Artists incorporate diverse, interdisciplinary perspectives into their art practice, and use them to create art that is truly innovative, has deep impact, or powerfully challenges personal or cultural perceptions. Our students expand their artistic vision, place their art in a historical context, participate in interdisciplinary discourse about the contemporary arts, experiment with new ways of crafting art, and advance their professional options.
We invite artists crossing disciplines (writer-performers, visual artist-dancers, actor-musicians, for example) and artists practicing or trained in a single discipline who are drawn to the interdisciplinary arts to join us. Students work closely with faculty members-in class, in one-on-one sessions, and online-and are mentored by local artists. All are accomplished working artists. Visiting artists lead workshops and are invited to present at our guest artist series, Saturday Night @ CIIS, so that our students' journeys are enriched by multiple perspectives.
For further exploration, check out What is Creative Inquiry? by Kris Brandenburger, MFA faculty member.
Our curriculum emphasizes art-making as a cross-disciplinary or multidisciplinary activity (making artists more aware of and better able to use ideas and techniques from other art forms); interdisciplinary studies of art history and practices (philosophical, spiritual, political, cultural); diverse perspectives on what it means to make art (including multicultural, feminist, indigenous, queer, and socially and politically engaged); and helping our artists' achieve their professional aspirations-in teaching, activism, or within nonprofits or community organization. All coursework is deeply interconnected.
The core of our MFA--the Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop and the MFA Project--gives students the chance to focus on their own work, while learning the value of presenting and relating it to others'. Students may also choose to collaborate with each other-- across disciplines or genres-and/or with writers in the MFA in Writing and Consciousness.
The MFA Project, a substantial arts project and the portfolio of professional materials they prepare allow them to enter the marketplace in fruitful ways that emanate from their core values. The MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts also has a significant professional development component with second-year courses in teaching, editing, arts administration, and community arts.
Tuition and Enrollment
This full time, 48-unit program is completed in two years. We admit students in the fall semester only. Please visit the Financial Aid Department's tuition page for updated program costs per unit. To find out more about scholarships for MFA students, contact Jana Krezo, the program's Admissions Counselor at 415-575-6246 or email@example.com. The MFA program also offers a limited number of teaching and research assistantships to students during their second year. To find our more, contact MFA program coordinator, Theresa Newman, at 415-575-6264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intensive Weekend Format and Schedule
Our MFA programs meet on an intensive weekend schedule, and students are in residence six times a semester-in general, Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some students will have elective courses that meet Friday evenings (usually 6:15 to 9:15 p.m.).
Students complete 75% of coursework during weekend residencies and the other 25% through online conferences (via Caucus) and/or individual meetings with advisors/mentors. For more information, see below. Hybrid and online electives will be available for some courses.
Saturday Nights @ CIIS
On Saturday evenings, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., students attend "Saturday Night @ CIIS," a guest artist series open to the entire community. These lively Saturday night events include panel discussions on sustaining a life as an artist, salon talks on artistic collaborations, and readings and performances by local and visiting guest artists, MFA alumni/ae, and MFA faculty. Students experience the diverse range of professional artists in the Bay area and beyond, and learn firsthand how these artists live and work. See our faculty page for our Saturday Night Presenters.
Supplemental Online Work
Before the first weekend and between weekend meetings, students participate in Caucus, the online conference used at CIIS, Online activities may include: reading and responding to other students' writings or artwork, preparing critical reflections as a follow up to weekend experience, participating in small group conversations or preparing for group projects, or responding to discussion items posted by instructors.
Working with Mentors and Faculty Advisors
Every semester, students meet with mentors (visiting or CIIS faculty). These meetings will be in person, via phone call, and/or via Caucus. In the first year, Writing and Consciousness students have individual meetings with workshop leaders and Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts faculty oversee the work that students do with outside mentors. These guest artist mentors document their work with students by preparing a narrative assessment at the end of the semester. During the second year, all MFA students have a WCC faculty advisor for their MFA project and an outside mentor/advisor. Students work with the same faculty advisor and mentor/advisor for both terms.