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Duke University Arts


Sep 13, 2011

New MFA Home Unveiled


A rehabbed former carpentry shop is the new home of Duke's embryonic Master in Fine Arts program, an attempt to encourage the unfettered exploration of myriad artistic disciplines.
Duke officials on Thursday opened the Campus Drive home of the Master's of Fine Arts in Experimental & Documentary Arts, a multidisciplinary venture that will encourage artists to leap beyond their comfort zones.
The program's new home near Smith Warehouse includes an office and conference room, a vast, open work space that can be cordoned off as needed, and an upper-level work room where artists can use edit video and view their digital work.
The program represents Duke's first MFA offering, and stands out for its merging of strengths in visual studies, film and documentary arts, said its director, Tom Rankin, who also heads the university's Center for Documentary Studies. 
"While many MFA programs emphasize particular mediums or build curricular tracks where students focus on a particular medium, our program embraces the rich potential of the documentary arts across mediums: photography, film, audio, writing and frontiers of new media," Rankin said.
The program started this fall with 15 students. A second class of 15 will join the two-year program next year.
The 6,500-square-foot facility features a ground-floor workspace that is largely barren aside from four large work tables. The room can be sectioned off with room dividers. Duke faculty say the students are encouraged to set up their workspace as they like.
"The idea is not to set up space optimal for one type of art," said Stanley Abe, an art history professor who directs Duke's Program in the Arts of the Moving Image. "We want a space that encourages people to mix things up."


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