Chapter 5: BFAMFAPhD

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BFAMFAPhD is a collective that makes art, reports, and teaching tools to advocate for cultural equity in the United States. The collective formed in 2012 after a series of open meetings that Caroline Woolard convened. Its name combines all of the degrees that a person could accumulate in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs: a BFA, an MFA, and a PhD. Concerned about the impact of debt, rent, and precarity on the lives of creative people, BFAMFAPhD asks: What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? The collective embodies a commitment to bringing people together to analyze and reimagine power relationships in the arts.

BFAMFAPhD core members are: Susan Jahoda, Emilio Martínez Poppe, Agnes Szanyi, Vicky Virgin, and Caroline Woolard. Susan Jahoda is a Professor in Studio Arts at the University of Amherst, MA; Emilio Martínez Poppe is an MFA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Agnes Szanyi is a Doctoral Student at The New School for Social Research in New York, NY, Vicky Virgin is a Research Associate with the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity in New York, NY, and Caroline Woolard is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at The University of Hartford, CT. Contributors include: Pasqualina Azzarello, Julian Boilen, Ann Chen, Dia Felix, Art Jones, Ben Lerchin, Alex Mallis, Blair Murphy, Kieran Startup, Mauricio Vargas, Lika Volkova, Jeff Warren, and Zipeng Zhu.

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Imagine that this September, instead of matriculating ata traditional 4-year school, prospective freshmen and first-year MFA students pool the money they would otherwise spend on tuition. The class of 2018 (around 100,000 students paying $25,576 on average) would have $2,157,600,000 to work with.

—Caroline Woolard, 2013

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