The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago and Professor Romi Crawford Announce Inaugural New Art School Modality Program


The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago and Professor Romi Crawford Announce Inaugural New Art School Modality Program

CHICAGO— MCA Chicago, in partnership with SAIC Professor Romi Crawford, announced the New Art School Modality. The educational institution, founded by Crawford, is aimed at democratizing art schooling systems for active problem-solvers and visionary doers.

“There’s intentionally less handholding, and the art school apparatus is reduced,” Professor Crawford said of the program. “All of this is a nod to prior historical moments when making art and being an artist was less reliant on costly infrastructures. Equally important is that it has ‘other’ knowledge forms and methods in its DNA. These are at the ground floor and coursing through all aspects of the institution.”

Evolving from Crawford’s previous Black Arts Movement School Modality, which partnered with Yale School of Art and MUDEC in Milan, among others, the New Art School Modality will connect students directly with industry leaders. Students will explore art making and art histories with an intergenerational community of artists, scholars, and arts professionals as faculty. Tuition for the inaugural phase of the program will be free to students, after Crawford secured $250,000 in seed funding from the Terra Foundation of American Art.

“It’s a responsibility of cultural and artistic institutions—like the MCA—to ensure that the art world is accessible to all,” Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn said. “Shining a spotlight on the good work of Professor Romi Crawford, who is closing the gap between art education and those who seek it, is a privilege, and I have confidence we will see results from the inaugural year that impact pedagogy moving forward.”

“The course topics and approaches are actively grounded in a revised set of values for arts education and learning: underrecognized art histories; intergenerational and collaborative methods; and outcome projects that live in the world, rather than course credit,” Crawford added. “The primary currency is not the course credit or degree. Instead, the New Art School Modality offers opportunities to take part in and produce a course outcome, such as being part of an exhibition, publication, or civic project that lives in the world.”

The Moleskine Foundation will partner with the New Art School Modality on the first such “outcome project” by providing the students’ notebooks. These will serve as proto-studio spaces that can hold research projects, artworks, curatorial proposals, poetry, and essay writing, among other student pursuits.Fall sessions will be hosted in-person at the MCA and virtually, as a 10-week-long hybrid program. Each session will be three hours long. The New Art School Modality will eventually offer a complete semester of curriculum, with multiple courses hosted at several institutions around the globe. In alignment with the New Art School Modality’s mission to make arts education more accessible, the first session’s tuition will be free of charge for students, and future courses will be offered at no or low cost to students, with a cap of $500.

The inaugural courses will address a range of subjects and forms and will draw undervalued artists and educators into the art school setting. The Fall 2023 course, titled FESTAC ’77: Witnesses, Art Histories, and Documents, will explore the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), which took place in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977.

A team of faculty will feature those with firsthand FESTAC ’77 experience, as well as artists and art historians with expertise in related subjects. Faculty and visiting artists include:

• Ntone Edjabe/Chimurenga, author of FESTAC ’77

• Darlene Blackburn, dancer/choreographer, FESTAC ’77 participant

• Stefano Harney, scholar and activist, co-author of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study

• Haki R. Madhubuti, poet, Third World Press founder, and FESTAC ’77 participant

• Dindga McCannon, artist and member of Where We At and Weusi

• K. Kofi Moyo, photographer and FESTAC ’77 participant

• Roy Lewis, photographer, member of OBAC, and FESTAC ’77 participant

• Andrew Apter, scholar and author of The Pan-African Nation

• Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau’, scholar and activist, Razzismo Brutta Storia associate

• Gerald Williams, artist, founding member of AfriCOBRA, and FESTAC ’77 participant

• Romi Crawford, co-curator with Theaster Gates of “K. Kofi Moyo and FESTAC ’77: The Activation of a Black Archive,” BAM School Modality founder

• Abdul Alkalimat, scholar, activist, and OBAC co-founder

• Fred Moten, poet and scholar, and co-author of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study and In the Break

To find more information and apply to the program, please visit the New Art School Modality website, Applications are due Aug. 14.


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