With just 10 best MFA painting graduates per year, the painting program at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is as tight-knit and intimate as it is rigorous. RISD has a variety of programs within the fine arts department, but painting stands out as one of the more practical. Here it is not in the sense that it is technical (the other programs tend to focus more on developing particular crafts and skills), but in the sense that painting students are coached on the commercial aspects of working as an artist within the larger market context, says one recent grad.
The application process is scrupulous. Roughly 300 painters apply to the painting program each year. Thirty to forty are selected for interviews where they’re grilled tribunal-style by the entire faculty, before a final ten students are selected. One of the faculty members was quoted saying “we don’t teach curiosity at the mfa students. To an interviewing applicant, meaning incoming students should already be committed to their studio practice and shouldn’t be in need of too much hand-holding.
While MFA is solely an art and design school, the school isn’t as isolated as some other stand-alone colleges. There is a lot of cross-over between RISD students and Brown students, both socially and academically. (RISD students can take liberal arts classes at Brown, and Brown students can take art classes as RISD– for no additional cost.) And if you don’t know Providence, it’s a charming town with enough culture to keep you busy, but is quiet enough to let you focus.
NOTABLE ALUMNI: Julie Mehretu, Daniel Arango, Richard Merkin.
NOTABLE FACULTY: David Frazer (Professor and Department Head), Angela Dufresne, Jackie Gendel.