Western accepting applications for new master of fine arts program

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University is now accepting applications for admission into its new master of fine arts degree program, an area of graduate study with an unconventional course structure featuring an intensive, on-campus residency during the summer and distance course work during the fall and spring.

The new program, recently authorized by The University of North Carolina Board of Governors, will begin offering classes during the 2004 summer session in the first of three approved concentrations – two-dimensional studio art, which includes painting, drawing and printmaking.

A 60-hour terminal degree program providing the highest level of instruction obtainable in the visual arts, it also will offer two additional concentrations – three-dimensional studio art (including sculpture and ceramics), starting in summer 2005; and integrated media studio art (including video, design, film, photography, book arts and experimental media), starting in summer 2006.

Jon Jicha, director of Western's new MFA program, shows some of the space in the new Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Jon Jicha, director of Western’s new MFA program, shows some of the space in the new Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The unusual structure of the program – three summer residencies of 10 weeks combined with out-of-residence independent studio work, research and writing – is designed to better serve the needs of prospective students, said Jon Jicha, professor of art and director of the MFA program.

“For the bulk of their time in the program, our students will be able to remain in their home communities, instead of being forced to relocate,” Jicha said. “They will be able to engage in career re-entry without foregoing what they are already doing in their communities. That’s important for many graduate students interested in advanced study of fine art, who may have already have established careers and families.”

Another advantage of the program’s structure is that it will result in the transformation of the campus into a veritable artists’ colony during the summer months, when internationally acclaimed artists, art scholars and critics will come to Cullowhee to teach alongside Western’s resident art faculty, he said.

“The students will benefit from the weaving of diverse faculty viewpoints, integrating with one another to create a truly intellectual community that will be enlivened by the overlapping and hybridization,” Jicha said.

The master’s degree program in fine arts will be housed in Western’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center, a $30 million facility designed to serve both as a new home for WCU’s university’s burgeoning academic programs in the arts and humanities, and as a cornerstone in university efforts to provide arts programming to help Western North Carolina develop culturally and economically.

Currently under construction, the facility is scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2004. It will contain classrooms, studios, galleries and support space for students studying the arts and humanities, and a 1,000-seat hall for musical and theatrical performances.

Applications for admission into Western’s master’s degree program in fine arts will be reviewed between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. Applicants must submit an official transcript from their undergraduate degree institutions, 20 recent slides, or 20 images on CD, two references and completed application form.

A selection committee will determine the status of each candidate within a week of the respective deadlines. Accepted candidates will be required to indicate their intent within 10 days after receiving notification. Candidates on the alternative list will be ranked and given the opportunity to be accepted if openings occur.

For more information, contact Jon Jicha at telephone (828) 227-3597 or via e-mail at jjicha@wcu.edu.