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Graduate Studies Catalog 2007-2009

Program in Visual Studies

(585) 442-8676

Director and Associate Professor: James B. Wyman, MFA, The University of Colorado at Boulder and MBA Certificate, The University of Liverpool, England; Visual Studies Workshop Staff and Adjunct Faculty: Rich Della Costa (film instructor), MS, SUNY Brockport; Kris Merola (artist workspace coordinator), MFA, SUNY Brockport; Karen vanMeenen (editor, Afterimage journal), MA, Vermont College of Norwich University; Sally Petty (librarian), MLS, Emporia State University.

MFA in Visual Studies
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is offered through a joint program with SUNY Brockport and the Visual Studies Workshop. The Workshop, a media arts center located in two historic buildings in Rochester’s Museum and Cultural District, is one of the oldest alternative arts organizations in the country. Begun in 1969, it helped to develop a responsive structure for the emergence of photography and media arts in the ’70s and has maintained a central leadership role in the support and exploration of contemporary image making and media literature for more than 30 years. Graduates of VSW’s Master of Fine Arts program are making major contributions to the field as teachers, artists, writers, curators, and media specialists; numerous others have benefited by study in its evening and summer institute programming. The Workshop serves artists as well as the public through its programs in exhibitions, publishing, education and community outreach.

All of the courses for the MFA program are held at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. This two-and-a-half year program incorporates study in the history, theory, criticism and practice of photography, book arts, independent film, video and new media.

The advantage of this unique program to students is the challenging environment that it generates for them. The educational program is uniquely embedded within an independent non-profit arts organization, and graduate students play an active role in the operations and resources of this internationally recognized artists’ space. Candidates in the MFA program have access to and gain training in the following program areas of the Workshop:

Exhibitions Program
Broad interpretations of media-based arts are emphasized in the spacious galleries at the Visual Studies Workshop. The galleries and traveling exhibitions feature and circulate the work of diverse, emerging and renowned artists internationally. Recent exhibitions have incorporated photography, film, video, audio, printmaking, bookmaking, mixed-media, sculpture, installation, performance, digital and computer art. In addition to viewing current exhibitions, visitors can browse through a bookstore featuring artists’ books.

Media Center and Press
The Media Center supports film- and video-making for independent producers and members of the community and includes training workshops and screening and exhibition programs. The Press emphasizes the integration of text and image and developing technologies. It has helped define the field of artists’ book publishing with more than 450 books by artists, photographers and writers, as well as research titles in the visual arts. The Press consults on all aspects of book publishing and production, including classes, residencies and internships in book arts.

Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Culture
For more than 30 years, Afterimage has provided insightful coverage of the latest developments in independent photography, film, video and visual books. No other journal in the field has published such an interesting and wide-ranging mix of feature articles, critical essays, exhibition and book reviews, conference reports and news stories. In recent years, Afterimage has brought the same level of informed and accessible analysis to the new computer and telecommunications technologies in media arts.

Research Center
The Research Center maintains a permanent collection of primary- and secondary-source materials on contemporary photography, visual books, video arts and filmmaking. The collection includes an independent press archive of artists’ books, an extensive collection of photographic books and illustrated books, prints by contemporary and historic photographers, amateur snapshots, albums, and lantern slides, as well as information files on photographers, printmakers, video artists and visual arts organizations.

Evening Classes
In addition to the MFA program in Visual Studies, the Workshop holds evening classes in photography, film and video, which may be taken for credit through SUNY Brockport.

Summer Institute
The Summer Institute, which offers a wide selection of intensive one-week workshops, is designed to stimulate new ways of working and of thinking about work, as well as provide opportunities to expand technical skills and work with new processes. Additionally, there are media literacy workshops designed for teachers to engage with special topics in educational media and media education. Students may register for graduate or undergraduate credit through SUNY Brockport.

Residency Program
Artists’ residencies are ongoing and bring students in contact with the development of contemporary work by artists of regional and international acclaim.

Internships and Practica
All program areas accept qualified interns on a three- to six-month basis. Interns participate in ongoing production or special projects. In addition to receiving professional field-related experience, interns have access to VSW facilities. Please direct inquiries to program areas.

Admission Policy
Only full-time students will be admitted to the program. Applicants must present evidence that they have received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (see Graduate Admissions section in this catalog for further details). The program does not require that applicants have a BFA. To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit a completed application; a statement of interest; a résumé; official transcripts from each institution attended as an undergraduate or graduate student; two letters of reference; a portfolio, slides, videotape, CD/DVD or Web site of his or her most recent and mature work; and a concise statement about the work. Please visit the Graduate Studies Web site at for specific application deadline information. For application materials, please send an e-mail to the Office of Graduate Studies at To discuss questions about the program, or to visit, contact the MFA Program in Visual Studies, Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607; (585) 442-8676; e-mail address:; Web site at

Program Requirements
This is a 60-credit program, requiring five semesters and one summer. The program is designed to introduce students to the field of visual studies in general, as well as to provide specializations in any of three areas of emphasis: 1) photography; 2) digital media, video and film; and, 3) imaging systems and book arts. The summer workshops provide several intense involvements in specialized areas enabling students to work with visiting faculty. During the fourth semester, students will take a research seminar in preparation for the internship and final project.

Distribution Requirements (60 credits total)
Core studio courses—Graduate foundation (Semester 1; 9 credits)
ART 532 Interpretive Strategies (Advanced Photography I)
ART 513 Digital Media I
ART 555 Imaging Systems I
Studio courses in visual studies (Semesters 2-4; 18 credits)
ART 533 Advanced Photography II
ART 636 Advanced Studio Problems in Photography
Film, Video and Digital Media
ART 514 Digital Media II
ART 515 16mm Film I
ART 516 16mm Film II
ART 617 Advanced Studio Problems in Media
Imaging Systems and Visual Books
ART 556 Imaging Systems II
ART 657 Advanced Studio Problems in Imaging Systems
ART 658 The Structure of the Visual Book
Additional Studio Courses
ART 531 Historical Photographic Processes
ART 535 Expanded Issues in Exhibition
ART 568 Working with Visual Information
ART 735 Arts Organization Practicum
Seminars in Visual Studies (Semesters 1-5; 12 credits)
ARH 561 History of Photography
ARH 563 Contemporary Media Survey
ARH 565 Alternative Views of Art
ARH 599 Independent Study in Art History
ARH 664 Media Culture (Art Theory and Philosophy)
Academic Electives (Semesters 2-5; 6 credits)
Summer Institute (Summer 1 or 2; 6 credits)
ART 591
Internship and Final Project (Semesters 4-5; 9 credits)
ART 797 Graduate Project I Research Seminar
ART 790 Internship
ART 798 Graduate Project II Final Project

Core Program
The core program is required of all students entering the program and includes both studio courses and seminars. In the first semester, a series of workshops is structured to introduce students to the full range of available resources and tools, and to encourage an integrated approach to working with diverse materials and presentational means. These workshops meet intensively on a rotating basis; topics include photography (black-and-white, color and various formats), studio and installation techniques, book arts, digital media and video/film. Seminars in the history and theory of photography and related media are also required as part of the core program.

Academic Electives (6 credits)
Students may select 500- and 600-level courses offered at SUNY Brockport for which they are eligible. Courses may be from the sciences, humanities (including visual culture), social sciences, non-profit administration, or the professions. Electives may include a maximum of three credits of independent study. Studio courses from the Department of Art may not be used to satisfy the academic elective requirement.

Summer Institute Workshops (6 credits)
The Summer Institute is a series of 20-30 intensive one-week workshops conducted by visiting faculty. The workshops address a wide variety of concerns in photography and related media. General categories for workshops include: processes and techniques, history and criticism, printing and book arts, and electronic imagery. Additionally, there are focused course offerings designed for teachers to engage with special topics in media education. The six credits of Summer Institute courses may fulfill either studio or seminar distribution requirements.

During the fourth semester, students will develop project proposals and do preparatory work for the internship and final project. The internship is designed to benefit students’ work by providing experience in the field. The final project is a studio project resulting in an exhibition, videotape or film, or an equivalent. Two faculty members and one outside educator/professional act as advisors to the project.


ART 513 Digital Media I (A). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Introduces students to an intersection of photography, video, sound and new media. All production and postproduction is done outside of class time, and students meet as a group for discussions and screenings of work. 3 Cr.

ART 514 Digital Media II (A). Course fee. Prerequisite: ART 513. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Allows students to continue to investigate the intersection of photography, video, sound and new media, and work on individual projects, meeting as a group for discussions and screenings of work. Also provides an introduction to the history of independent media arts. 3 Cr.

ART 515 16mm Film I (B). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Introduces the student to independent 16 mm film production. Focuses on individual expression through scriptwriting, production and postproduction. Sessions include the history of film, camera operation, use of light meters, lighting, composition, directing actors, and the principles and techniques of editing. 3 Cr.

ART 516 16mm Film II (B). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Provides students with advanced aesthetics needed to work with 16 mm film. Covers synch soundtrack, advanced editing techniques, working with a film crew and budgeting. Requires students to produce a film project with soundtrack by the end of the semester. 3 Cr.

ART 531 Historical Photographic Processes (A). Introduces and applies several historic photographic processes used in the 19th century. Hands-on experience provides historical background in addition to a deep understanding and appreciation for these processes. Discussions include contemporary issues and artists currently using any one or combination of historical techniques. 3 Cr.

ART 532 Advanced Photography I: Interpretive Strategies (A). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Is based on the broadest possible conception of photography as the present technology of visual language. Treats the camera much as one would a pencil, and asks the many questions raised by the mere act of making a picture: What is meant by speaking in visual, as opposed to verbal, terms? What is the impact of social and psychological circumstances on the visual message? What is the effect of visual media on their audiences? How, eventually, will a record of visual artifacts be interpreted. 3 Cr.

ART 533 Advanced Photography II (A). Course fee. Prerequisite: ART 532. Defines a context for developing a personal system of working and decision making that stresses self-criticism and the ability to become aware of directions in the student’s own work and the work of others. Strengthens concepts of seeing and sequencing presentation, exhibition format and printing standards. 3 Cr.

ART 534 Advanced Problems in Photography (A). (Taught at Brockport Campus and Visual Studies Workshop.) Structured for students to gain independence in their working methods. Expects students to locate an area of interest and create a substantial project that reflects a thoughtful and developed investigation. Requires conceptual and technical readings to supplement their work. 3 Cr.

ART 535 Expanded Issues in Exhibition (A). Explores various exhibition formats, including site-specific installation and alternative forms of public display such as billboards, signage, mail, networks and performance. Allows students to develop individual or collaborative projects culminating in a public display. 3 Cr.

ART 555 Imaging Systems I (A). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Provides an introduction to visual books and alternative photographic processes, that, as physical time-based media, stand between photography and electronic imaging. Explores book structures as a means of organizing visual/textual material. Introduces a variety of alternative processes (cyanotype, gum bichromate, etc.) in which photographic images are produced on plain paper and other surfaces using large-scale negatives and contact printing. 3 Cr.

ART 556 Imaging Systems II (Bookworks) (A). Course fee. Prerequisite: ART 555. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Examines contemporary use of text/image relationships, as well as historical traditions in visual arts and media as the basis for artists’ bookworks. Requires students to plan and produce an editioned book. Emphasizes the translation of a series of pages through the use of offset lithography as a printmaking process. 3 Cr.

ART 568 Working with Visual Information (A). (Taught at the Visual Studies Workshop). Using the substantial visual resources of the Visual Studies Workshop, provides the fundamentals of working with visual information in a special collections context. Introduces basic database concepts, analysis and current archival/museum best practices (name authorities, exhibition and bibcitation). Practical emphasis is on the use of FileMaker database software for its ease of use, low cost and power. Other systems are surveyed including the potential of the Internet for expanded access. Teaches how to use visual information more effectively for research and how to craft effective structures of visual data. 3 Cr.

ART 599 Independent Study in Visual Studies (A). Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission. Permits students to pursue in greater depth topics studied previously. Designed individually through consultation between student and instructor to suit the needs of the student and the special competence of the instructor. 1-6 Cr.

ART 617 Advanced Studio Problems in Electronic Media (A). Course fee. Prerequisites: ART 513 and ART 514. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) An independent study course. Investigates the intersection of photography, sound, and the computer. Designed by the student in consultation with the instructor based on a project proposal submitted the prior semester. Requires the student to meet bi-weekly with the instructor and present the project at the end of the semester as an exhibition, screening or lecture. 1-5 Cr.

ART 636 Advanced Studio Problems in Photography (A). Course fee. Prerequisite: ART 532. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) An independent study class designed by the student in consultation with the instructor, based on a project proposal submitted the prior semester. 1-5 Cr.

ART 657 Advanced Studio Problems in Imaging Systems (A). Course fee. Prerequisite: ART 556. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) An independent study for students with a good working background in imaging systems, visual books and offset lithography. Requires a suitable independent study project such as the design, printing, and binding of an editioned bookwork or print portfolio, a series of one-of-a-kind books, or an environmental book. 1-5 Cr.

ART 658 Structure of the Visual Book (A). Course fee. (Taught at Visual Studies Workshop.) Requires students to conceive, construct and bind several books to gain a better understanding of the book format as an art form, rather than a reproduction of pre-existing work. Includes lectures on and discussion of prime examples of current books. 3 Cr.

ART 735 Arts Organization Practicum (A). As an in-house internship, a practicum that provides the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and working knowledge of one of VSW’s program areas: Afterimage journal, Research Center, and other public programs. Requires students to work under the direction of director and/or program coordinator and make active contributions to advancing the program’s goals. Allows students to gain inside experience of an art organization in learning particular professional skills. 3 Cr.

ART 790 Internship (A). Designed to benefit students’ work by providing experience in the field. Involves the commitment of one semester’s time within an active, professional learning situation. Examples include an apprenticeship with an artist, assisting a curator, setting up and teaching evening courses in a remote area, helping design an innovative method of visual text distribution on the Internet. Culminates in a report including documentation and evaluation letters. 3 Cr.

ART 797 Graduate Project I - Research Seminar (A). Lays the practical and conceptual groundwork for the final thesis project, a public presentation and contribution to the field of visual studies, in the form of a gallery show, media art project, screening, or publication. Focuses on issues of professional practice in writing artists’ statements, public speaking about work, display alternatives, understanding the art market, etc. Culminates in the Graduate Review, which is a requirement for Graduate Project II. 3 Cr.

ART 798 Graduate Project II - Final Project (A). Prerequisite: ART 797 and Graduate Review. Requires a final thesis project that leads to a public presentation and contribution to the field of visual studies in the form of a gallery show, media art project, screening, or publication. Requires that the public project be available to the community for at least one week. Two faculty members and one outside advisor act as advisors to the project. A final presentation and discussion results in vote to recommend the acceptance or resubmission of the thesis project. 1-3 Cr.

The information in this publication was current as of Summer 2007 when the text was compiled. Changes, including but not restricted to, tuition and fees, course descriptions, degree and program requirements, policies, and financial aid eligibility may have occurred since that time. Whether or not a specific course is scheduled for a given term is contingent on enrollment, budget support and staffing. The College reserves the right to make any changes it finds necessary and may announce such changes for student notification in publications other than the College catalogs. For the purposes of degree and program completion, students are bound by the requirements in effect as stated in the printed catalog at the time of their matriculation at SUNY Brockport. Students matriculated in summer are bound by the catalog in effect the following fall semester. Inquiries on the current status of requirements can be addressed to the appropriate College department or office. Also refer to the Brockport Web site home page at for current information. Printed Summer 2007