The MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice focuses on the intersection of art and activism. Specifically, it explores art in social change and the application of art as a change agent.
The Faculty Director of our MFA degree is artist, organizer, educator, and popular public speaker, Patrisse Cullors, Los Angeles native and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network and Founder of grassroots Los Angeles based organization Dignity and Power Now.
Patrisse designed the degree to utilize art as a way to positively effectively respond to social and environmental problems in ways that inspire and mobilize community-based solutions.
In 2013, Patrisse co-founded the global movement with the viral Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter which has since grown to an international organization with dozens of chapters around the world fighting anti-Black racism. In January 2016 Patrisse Cullors published her memoir, "When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir." Her memoir became an instant New York Times Bestseller.
Throughout Cullors’ life, art and activism have been intricately intertwined in her work. Cullors is the recipient of the Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation, the 2020 Art Matter Fellowship Award, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation 2020 Emerging Artist in Los Angeles. She has held residencies at The 24th Street Theater and Kalamazoo College. Cullors has exhibited widely across Los Angeles and the United States, from traditional arts institutions to public spaces. Her work has been shown at Art Basel Miami, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the California African American Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, Kalamazoo College, Pieter Performance Space, Highways Performance Space, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and more.
Unlike traditional MFA programs in which students concentrate on a specific medium, form, or discipline, the interdisciplinary MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice centers concept, purpose and intentional engagement with community over specific disciplines or media. A student entering into the interdisciplinary MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice might combine multiple disciplines and media, or work within a single discipline or media focused within the frame of social practice theory.