CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice is a two-year program designed to give students a deep understanding of art, artists, galleries, and museums in order to empower their work in the art world. Our learning environment is highly interdisciplinary, offering students exposure to industrial and graphic design, architecture, visual culture studies, and conversations around sustainability in order to foster and inform their developing practice. Alongside faculty, students work with visiting artists, writers, curators, and other museum professionals from large-scale institutions to emerging nonprofits. CCA’s acclaimed Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is an invaluable resource for the program and the site for students’ culminating exhibition.
While considering broad themes, such as the politics of space or the tension between the virtual and physical, the program concentrates on the role of the curator as a productive agent, a synthesizer of ideas, and a positive mediator who builds bridges between artists, ideas and audiences. Drawing from the history of art, design, and visual culture, our program provides students the intellectual resources they need to engage critically and creatively with contemporary visual culture. This pedagogical activity and research coalesces to provide students the strategic and analytic skills required for curating innovative exhibitions, organizing stimulating public programs, and writing meaningful texts.
The MA in Curatorial Practice program offers firsthand encounters with art in private and public collections while developing conversations and relationships with artists through regular studio visits and qualitative interviews. First year students focus specifically on exhibitions—their history, form and design—alongside courses in contemporary and global art history, theory and criticism, and primary engagements with artists and designers. Additionally, students acquire essential professional development through requisite internships within San Francisco’s prestigious art institutions and beyond the Bay Area. The second year is focused on research-driven, project-based learning in collaboration with faculty mentors. Students produce individual written thesis projects and collectively author an exhibition for CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
Founded in 1998 at California College of the Arts, the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute for contemporary art located in the heart of San Francisco’s Design District. As an exhibition space, the Wattis commissions and presents new work by artists from around the world. As a research institute, it dedicates an entire year to reflecting on the work of a single artist, which informs a regular series of public events, texts, and research by other relevant artists and thinkers.
Visitors and faculty
Each year, the Curatorial Practice program hosts a world-class selection of visiting curators and artists with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and disciplines. In direct collaboration with faculty and students through lectures, exhibitions, and critiques, these distinguished figures are essential in keeping the program relevant and connected within the curatorial world at large.
A selection of previous visitors includes:
Juana Berrío, Hal Foster, Howard Fried, Jens Hoffmann, Lucy Lippard, Andrea Lissoni, Raimundas Malašauskas, Filipa Ramos, Kitty Scott, Hank Willis Thomas
Dena Beard, Anthony Huberman, Claudia La Rocco, Julian Myers-Szupinska, Kim Nguyen, Rita Souther, Jordan Stein, Sarah Thornton, James Voorhies
Qualifications for admission
We welcome highly motivated applicants from a broad spectrum of cultural, professional, and academic backgrounds.
Prospective applicants will have:
–an undergraduate degree in the history of art, fine art, or other appropriate area of the humanities or social sciences
–relevant practical experience in the visual arts and a demonstrated commitment to curating, and a strong interest in contemporary art