18 May, 2022

SUNY Brockport has decided to discontinue the MFA in Visual Studies program at VSW. While the final decision was ultimately the college’s, VSW was deeply involved in this determination and the agreement is mutual. It has been our great honor and privilege to steward the education of the over 500 graduates since this unique program’s inception. Every student currently enrolled in the program will graduate with their degree by June 2024 and have the educational experience they were promised at matriculation. We know you may have questions about how this decision came about, and we have developed the below series of FAQs to provide additional information.

  • Why is the MFA in Visual Studies program ending?

    The financial realities of continuing to run the MFA program as an independent contract with SUNY became untenable. As a small program without tuition assistance or significant graduate assistantships, we have struggled to compete for full cohorts. In recent years SUNY Brockport bore substantial losses to enrollments and revenue college-wide, making every application and course registration even more significant. Our program is not the only one affected at SUNY Brockport and elsewhere. Unfortunately, we know of several unique MFA programs that are also on hiatus or have been discontinued in the past two years. It has been our great honor and privilege to steward the education of over 500 artists since this program’s inception in 1969 and VSW remains committed to our alumni.


    Is there a way to change this decision or advocate for the continuation of the program?

    The discontinuation of the MFA program is confirmed. While the final decision was ultimately SUNY Brockport’s, Visual Studies Workshop’s leadership team was deeply involved in the discussions and decisions. While many aspects of the program’s closure are bittersweet, we know this is the right decision for VSW and our continued work of supporting artists and our community. We are proud of the legacy that has been built and optimistic about VSW’s future.

    This change feels appropriate, timely, and exciting for the growth and transformation of VSW. Our mission, vision, and values remain the same—we still exist to serve and support makers and interpreters of images.


    What is the timeline for the discontinuation of the MFA program?

    There will be a two-year transition, ensuring that all current students will receive the degree and education they were promised at their point of matriculation. No new students will be admitted into the program. By June 2024 all current students will have completed the degree.

    During this time, Tate Shaw and Jessica Johnston will remain Director and Assistant Director of the MFA program, respectively.


    Will Visual Studies Workshop public programming change? 

    Yes, VSW programming will change and expand. Current programming like the Salon series, Press, and Project Space artist residencies will continue, and we are making plans for expanded educational programming for the community. These ideas and plans are in development now; we value and welcome the voices of our alumni and community. Please join this conversation via our online feedback form or by attending our virtual community dialogue on Zoom June 8 from 6-8pm ET, RSVP here.


    How can I support Visual Studies Workshop?

    We will need the support of our community as this transition enables VSW to sustain and grow. There are a number of ways you can help.

    • Annual donations and memberships are more important than ever and we are incredibly grateful for these financial gifts.
    • We want to hear from our community as we develop our plans for the future of VSW. Please share your ideas and feedback through this online form or plan to attend our virtual community dialogue  for alumni and community members June 8.
    • Engage with us! Attend our Rochester-based events and virtual events on Twitch, bring friends and colleagues, purchase items from the bookstore, share VSW with your own circle so we can expand our reach and impact.


    Will VSW continue to provide education programs? 

    We remain committed to supporting creators and interpreters of images through education and are developing new platforms to sustain that critical part of our mission. Development of studio-based workshops, online engagements, alternative curricula, and artist support initiatives are all part of our current research.

    Information about workshops will be available here.