Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts: Students and Alumni
Select a profile below to learn about the experiences and view work of some of our recent alumni.
Verónica Casado Hernández
Kate E. Schaffer
“The online format to course study for the fall and spring sessions has proven to be highly effective for me. Many of the instructors have included the structural aspects of the digital format itself in their pedagogical framework, incorporating its limitations and specificities as a model for the many real-world limited networks of communication and relationship.
In this way, I’ve had to be incredibly concise with my efforts, which has promoted an increased rigor on my part as a student. As writing has been the primary tool of communication, this has been rigorously attended to as well– which has wonderfully prepared me for the vast online domain we find ourselves in currently. Our program is very nicely balanced with the summer sessions, which offer an intense deep dive into our practice, community and pedagogy – however I must admit it has been the online format that has instigated my deepest dives into course material."
-Brendan Getz, Class of 2018
“I found online learning to be extremely beneficial, especially for students who are naturally inclined to learn and communicate through reading and writing. In online learning, I felt as though I had a voice that was heard frequently by both faculty and students. In addition, the online reading and writing format allows time to cognitively process information and provide detailed personal observations, as well as in-depth responses to students’ posts. Another positive feature of online learning was that it was flexible enough to accommodate a variety of work and family schedules.
The most beneficial features of the summer residencies included the vast amount of resources to which we were exposed to a top-notch visiting artist program, SAIC’s many fabrications facilities, the library and artist book collections, and courses and critiques of exceptional quality from nationally and internationally-recognized faculty.
-Erin Schalk, Class of 2017
“Having been out of school for the past sixteen years, it was a pleasure to begin the Low Residency at SAIC with the six-week stay in Chicago. I was treated to a series of classes that prepared my mind in a concrete manner. My classmates and I discussed Art under the lens of the program’s emphasis, Poetics. This offered me the ability to find ways to speak to the rigorous course load without feeling like I was ill prepared, not having the prior “Art” knowledge, in order to participate. I was also introduced to a host of visiting artists that helped to further aide my comprehension of difficult concepts. Then the online courses began. I know that I am an “in the classroom” student, but I was met with generous teachers who provided a platform where I could interact with my classmates and have access to speak with them via Skype or email. I have since become comfortable with this online presence and it has made me an expressive writer, a methodical reader, and a conscientious thinker. This is my last year and I feel as if I want to continue these in-depth conversations; the readings have transformed from being mandatory to a desire. I have at least seven teachers/ advisors that I am in contact with that can provide a different way of looking at the work, and how to move forward. Gregg and the Low-Res faculty have fashioned a program where various art forms cross breed seamlessly.
Needless to say, I am enjoying myself and look forward to the work I will produce because of this program.”
-Ayo Jackson, Class of 2018
“My overall experience of this incredibly unique and innovative LRMFA program has been at times quite challenging due ironically to its rigorous and loose structure however I always remain deeply satisfied with what I’ve learned. As a non-traditional student I was extremely eager to embrace the enormous flexibility the program offered (the lure of not having to disrupt and uproot one’s life for the sake of school) was an extraordinary feat but I underestimated the amount of work that came along in adopting such an academic model. I couldn’t have imagined how precarious things will become for though my 'regular' work/home life hasn’t been totally upended my daily habits have been completely overhauled due to program’s influence. During the summer residencies everything is super fast, super intense, super exhilarating, super hands-on, super interactive and super real while during the course of the year though pace slows down considerably the momentum is still back-breaking as the expectation to maintain a rigorous reading-writing schedule and a robust and highly productive studio practice is quite a delicate balancing act. In many ways this program prepares one for the 'real' world for there are no buffers to contend with. You are immersed in the contentious reality of being a creative person...you learn very quickly to take command and engender responsibility for one’s individual learning. Being independent, witty, quick wit, quick-thinking inoculates you from ever being intellectually lazy or overly dependent on another to achieve one’s goals.”
-Yanique Norman-Santiago, Class of 2018
“Supported by faculty, staff, mentors, and classmates who foster constructive and productive methodologies, my learning experience has been both challenging and rewarding. I’m greatly appreciative of the online advantages of the program, particularly because they overcome the challenges of remote practices, like time and location. One of the most significant advantages and successes of the online courses is the role of my professors. It has been my experience that they offer effective communication, positive online presence and timely assessments and engagement of my work. Although the discussion boards are prompted by the professor, they are done so in such a way that offers an opportunity for spontaneity and student-generated discussion, while adhering to its core themes of Attention, Sensation, and Perception. The online courses offer different perspectives by acknowledging contemporary artists and strategies in artmaking. Online courses become a sort of real-time, global social activity that would otherwise be lacking in my studio practice during fall and spring semesters because of a remote setting. The SAIC technology infrastructure of online courses is strong and supports the feasibility of student activity.
Opportunities for growth are continued and synthesized more deeply when we come together during the summer residencies. My residency experience has been a safe place for me to investigate and challenge my own methodology of artmaking. Through critical thinking and dialogue around issues today, the residency has been an environment where the voices of all are valued and respected while increasing the capacity and understanding of self and other.”
-Laura Drey, Class of 2018
“During my time as a Low Residency MFA student, engaging with my professors and fellow cohort from a distance in a meaningful way was made possible through our online classes. I found that the curricula over the two years I was enrolled were well planned, considered the program’s guiding theme of Poetics, challenged us to formulate relative ideas and multi-layered conversation with each other through the portals…professors encouraged us to think about the material through the lenses of our respective work and disciplines.
Despite the distance-based learning aspect and knowing that many of the students are busy with professional careers, families, and other responsibilities, and SAIC’s “no-grades” policy, we were held accountable for completing our assignments on time and critical engagement was expected. During the summer residency, high level critical engagement, professor commitment to developing well planned curricula, significant amount of writing, meaningful interactions with a well-curated roster of visiting artists, and high expectations for all of our papers and presentations has prepared us for our continued paths as professional artists. All of this was in addition to the encouragement we received in our studio practice. I was truly grateful for the insight, availability, critical engagement, technical advice and honest support support I received from faculty, visiting artists and shop/lab technicians in my studio. One of the most challenging aspects of the residency was trying to manage having enough time to work in my studio, attend all of our classes (attendance was mandatory) and completing all writing assignments. The workload was intense. As I meet and speak with others who have attended or are considering other Low Residency MFA programs, I am without a doubt sure that the LRMFA program at SAIC is second to none and often highly recommend it to anyone I know who is considering a LRMFA program.”
-Nyugen Smith, Class of 2016
“I am honored to be a graduate of the Low Residency Masters of Fine Arts Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My journey through the SAIC-LRMFA was challenging in that I had been out of school for many years and found myself in the beginning at a loss. There was so much for me to revisit from past years art history classes from undergrad. (1980’s), but this program was worth every tear and frustration that I endured as I made my way through. I am saying this with great admiration...classes taught by Andrea Ray, Pamela Sneed and D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem, each having different styles of teaching, but very dedicated and passionate about their subject matter.
These classes were filled with information pertaining to a wide scope of ideas and historical info that I found very relevant and inspiring to my art practice as well as the overall theme of this program. The residency component of the program was just as inspiring and each class that I encountered was equally informative, challenging and enlightening. Lastly, I am grateful for the various studio advisors that I had each year, each one bringing a different outlook and ideas, while encouraging and modeling how to think and talk about your own art practice. This experience opened my eyes to new views, gave me a voice and platform to create, as well as develop relationships that I would not have had access to without this program.”
-Monica Kelsie, Class of 2017