Art and Research Integral for MFA Students at Vermont College of Fine Arts

At the VCFA MFA in Visual Art program, students develop a research-based art practice, merging visual culture research and studio work. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, students incorporate their historical, sociopolitical, critical, and aesthetic inquiries with their studio work, a grounding that affirms artists participate in and impact their communities and beyond. “…the real rewards in making art come from struggling with the process and not from the perfection of a shiny, fashionable, saleable object…artists are not lone geniuses, but both exist and take on their significance through a relationship to the world,” wrote G. Roy Levin, co-founder of the program.

Each semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts, individualized study plans are tailored to the ideas and subjects that matter to the student’s art practice. Students see that the visual culture work helps sustain their practice, well after graduating from the program. Within the intersections of one’s artwork and lived experience, Visual Culture Research Projects create opportunities for singular exploration — students often find their research and writing lead to discoveries in the studio. “Visual culture has provided me with an invigorating space in which to explore a wide range of research interests in support of my studio practice and in turn, led me to discover the most relevant contemporary contexts in which to situate my work,” notes current student Jamie Zimchek.

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In the final semester, students embark upon their Process Paper — a capstone of their MFA work, in addition to their final thesis exhibition — in which they contextualize the trajectory of their research and studio work in the program. Zimchek adds, “Though the combination of research, writing, and studio work is nothing short of intense, as an intellectually curious, self-motivated artist, I’ve found this to be a highly stimulating multidisciplinary MFA program well-suited to independent thinkers.”

To learn more about VCFA’s MFA in Visual Art program, visit


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