SIU’s Printmaking MFA is a three year program. Students are offered a full tuition waiver for the entire three years with a stipend for a quarter-time position (typically teaching a class for six hours a week or a support position like Print Shop Assistant). Some students also take on another assistantship for a larger stipend. Printmaking grads typically have the opportunity to teach Introduction to Printmaking, Beginning Etching, Beginning Screen Printing, and Beginning Woodcut once or more during their time here. Other opportunities to teach courses in Foundations or Drawing are also possible. From a CV-building standpoint our grad students come out well prepared to enter academia if that is their desired career path. A large number of our alumni have gone on to successful careers as both practicing studio artists and instructors.
A substantial portion of the first two years are devoted to experimentation and students move toward developing their thesis in their third year. Given the opportunities for interdisciplinary investigation many grads will also explore media such as digital media, glass, ceramics, metal-casting, etc. in addition to their 2-D studio work. Grad students have private studios with 24/7 access as well as 24/7 access to the printmaking facilities which include the following: 40” X 60” Griffin etching press; 30” X 60” Sturges etching press; 40” X 80” Takach litho press; 32” X 60” P-K litho press; large inventory of litho stones; 44” wide Epson 9880 inkjet printer; multiple Mac computing stations; 36” X 48” AmerGraph exposure unit; multiple vacuum table screen printing stations; AWT Seri-Glide 66” X 88” one-arm screen printing press; two-pound Lee Scott McDonald paper beater; assorted papermaking equipment; Vandercook Universal I letterpress w/adjustable bed; multiple letterpress proofing presses; wood and metal type collections. Departmental equipment also includes: Universal VLS 6.60 laser engraver; ShopBot 48” X 96” CNC router; Graphtec CE6000-120 48” cutting plotter; multiple 3-D printers & scanners.
We have a strong visiting artist program with opportunities for studio visits. We also have research grants for MFA students. Printmaking has a student organization that has been rather active in the last few years as well. We’ve been able to use that group as a fundraising apparatus to help offset costs for students to attend events like print conferences. We also began the Four Rivers Print Biennial, a national juried show in 2016. It was very successful and the second iteration occurred in the spring of 2018. That allows us to bring in an additional visiting artist-printmaker to our campus while giving students the experience of mounting a professional-level group exhibition.
The cost-of-living in Carbondale is rather low. It is a fairly small town but it is in one of the most beautiful regions in the Midwest. There are lots of rock formations/bluffs, lakes, rolling hills with orchards and vineyards, and many forests/state parks within a very short drive. There are also year-round farmer’s markets and we typically have a rather temperate climate. Carbondale is roughly 1.5 hours southwest of St. Louis and we are on an Amtrak line that runs north and south from Chicago to New Orleans. A ride to Chicago takes 5.5 hours— the same as driving there.
SIU’s MFA students are part of a close-knit community of creative and critical thinkers that value both traditional approaches as well as interdisciplinary investigation. The program considers printmaking as a nexus, an intersecting point where other disciplines of visual art may be investigated in tandem, where the fields of art and design converge, and where the past, present, and future of visual expression are simultaneously at play. Printmaking is rich with traditions and histories that are intertwined with the development of communication and culture. These same threads remain woven into the mesh of contemporary society and printmaking is a medium ripe with possibilities and potential for innovation within contemporary art. SIU’s Printmaking program encourages experimentation and hybrid processes, as well as an engagement of print within the larger arena of creative research and production. The program maintains an expansive and inclusive stance in educating artists, embracing new technologies as well as established techniques and conceptual contexts. As a result, our students acquire a critical awareness of the problems and possibilities for investigating, thinking, and problem solving in the 21st century.