Arthur Gibbons, Director

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About the Program Disciplines


Within the structure of the program's interdisciplinary approach, each student focuses on one primary form of expression for individual work. The student selects from the following six artistic fields:

Entering students are expected to have experience with the working practice and technical knowledge of their field. Each student is housed in one discipline and will approach his or her work from the methodology and philosophy within it, but every student may work in any medium and will have access to the facilities and equipment of all departments during the summer session.

During their summer sessions, students are expected to initiate projects that can be implemented and altered in response to feedback from the intensive individual discussions with a broad range of faculty and from the group "crits" that arise from within the discipline Caucus and the larger community setting. Each discipline emphasizes creating work as well as developing a critical vocabulary through reading and discussion.


This discipline emphasizes aesthetics and innovation, the art of cinema. It seeks filmmakers who want to work on personal, experimental, poetic, or documentary films, and leaves the blockbuster special-effects films and television docudramas to other schools.

The film/video discipline is housed in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center. Available video equipment includes mini DV camcorders and editing stations featuring Final Cut Pro. Video monitors and projectors are available for installations. There is also a Pro Tools LE sound lab, which allows for editing in Dolby 5.1 surround. Filmmakers will find a wide variety of 16mm equipment, including Arriflex cameras and an optical printer. A full range of sound and lighting equipment is available to support both digital and analog productions during the summer months.

Since the program is intensive and participatory, the best way for the student to make effective use of the summer session is to concentrate on postproduction. Shooting short films is possible, but time will be lost in sending the film out for processing. Focusing on postproduction gives the film student a chance to receive meaningful input from other artists.


The Music/Sound discipline welcomes emerging artists in composition, improvisation, performance, sound installation, sound sculpture, audio activism, and other forms of sonic engagement. Offering a critical approach to experimental sound practice, the department seeks to move away from an exclusively technical/formal conversation and toward consideration of the full gamut of contextual and historical forces at work in the production and reception of the sonic arts. Buoyed by one-on-one conversation, hands-on instruction, group critique, and caucus meetings, students are challenged to formulate and develop rigorous, idiosyncratic methodologies for both producing and framing their own work.

The department's long-term commitment to the post-Cagean lineage is unique, having been host to such seminal figures as Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, Richard Teitelbaum, Christian Wolff, La Monte Young, and many others. The work and thought of Maryanne Amacher, a long time member of the faculty until her passing in 2009, is exemplary of the engagement with sound which the program strives to encourage: complexly, provocatively, and meticulously navigating the boundaries of genre and classification. Dialogue with such lineages as well as with other vernaculars is understood as an opening into a rich, interdisciplinary understanding of the sonic in the broadest and yet most specific sense. Emphasizing hybrid practices, the program offers an approach which neither reduces sound to a sub-category of contemporary art production nor enforces any institutional idea of a “contemporary” music.

Music/Sound is based in the Edith C. Blum Institute and the Milton and Sally Avery Center for the Arts, which together provide individual studios, performance and exhibition spaces, a recording studio, and an electronic music studio, which features vintage analog synthesizers such as the Serge Modular Synthesizer and Arp 2600, as well as digital audio environments including Pro Tools and Logic. An electronic music workshop allows for the design and construction of electronics in many forms, from basic circuitry to the programming of microcontrollers and sensors. Professional performers may be hired as resources for Master's Thesis presentations.


The painting discipline encourages students to engage with the shifting and expanding parameters of "painting culture," a deeply structured, historically informed aesthetic practice that embraces and extends beyond the contexts of the Western painting tradition. It encompasses other predominantly two-dimensional forms such as drawing and printmaking, and encourages students who work in installation and multimedia forms. Facilities for printmaking and silk-screening are offered.


At a time of major change within the medium, the photography department encourages an expansive view of the discipline: analogue and digital, still and moving imagesinstallations and conceptual approaches are all welcome. Formal concerns and content are considered equally in an ongoing dialogue about meaning, visual engagement, and subjectivity. We seek students who want to develop both their critical faculties and their voices as artists. The program is designed for students who have a practical command of photographic technique and a foundation in the history and criticism of the medium.

The photography facility, located in Woods Studio, contains individual and group darkrooms equipped for both black-and-white and color processing, a fully equipped shooting studio, and a state-of-the-art Macintosh digital lab for editing and large-format printing. Medium- and large-format cameras, tripods, and other equipment are available for student use during the summer session. Bard's library includes a strong collection of historical, contemporary, and rare books on photography as well as portfolios of original prints.

Bard also offers an M.F.A. in photography through the International Center of Photography in New York City. Admission to this program is separate from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. For more information on the ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies, go to or contact, 212-857-0001.


The sculpture discipline  is shaped and reshaped by a set of ideas: form, space, surface, material, location, gesture, narrative. Some students come into this program from art schools; others have no formal art training. What they have in common is a serious commitment to their practice and a readiness to challenge the assumptions that inform it. Students engage in object making, installation, video, and performance.

The limited time frame of the summer session requires students to create work than can be realized rapidly; more time-intensive projects can be completed during the 10-month independent study period. Students are assigned individual studios in the Richard B. Fisher and Emily H. Fisher Studio Arts building. Large common areas for welding, woodworking, and printmaking are also available.


The interdisciplinary context of the M.F.A. program is ideal for writers, as it allows them to explore issues common to the other arts while they address those specific to writing. The program puts an emphasis on developing awareness of a variety of verbal, aural, and textual structures. Students are encouraged to find and develop an individual process of composition, as well as a critical understanding of their field. The structure and nature of the program make it most suitable for writers working with innovative forms of poetry, short fiction, sound, and mixed-media writing.

Faculty members are drawn from writers with a wide range of media, styles, and concerns, many of whom are known for addressing difficult social and cultural subjects through exploratory approaches to writing. Students work with this faculty and with faculty in the other disciplines on a one-to-one basis; these Conferences permit students and faculty within the discipline to meet and discuss works in progress as well as readings by authors outside the program.

When on campus, students are provided with individual studios and a communal photocopier. Computers, printing and audio and video facilities are available in several campus media labs.


2015 application is now available in Slideroom. 

Please visit our 'applying' page for the link and application guidelines.

Alumna Corrine Fitzpatrick MFA '11 writes about the Bard MFA program for Artforum's

Info Sessions dates are now posted.