In many ways, the program at the Academy is simple: 150 graduate students work together and are mentored by 10 Artists-in-Residence for a full-time two-year studio-based study. But because Cranbrook Academy of Art is like no other program in the United States, it bears some explaining. At Cranbrook, we believe that graduate school is not separate from life, but is the foundation for life-long practice in art and design. Like real life, graduate study at the Academy is self-directed and relatively unscripted. And yet, students are guided, supported, and challenged by the Academy community.
The Academy offers graduate study for a Master’s Degree in one of 10 departments: 2D Design, 3D Design, Architecture, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media and Sculpture. At Cranbrook, we do not have fixed courses or a set curriculum. Instead, the structure of the program develops from each department outward – not from the top down. Departmental activities provide the central structure for students. Each department follows its own rotation of critiques, reading and discussion groups, student presentations, travel, and visits with guest artists and critics.
These activities are synchronized with Academy-wide offerings, including a Critical Studies program, a lecture series, professional practice sessions and the programs of Cranbrook Art Museum. As centers within the greater Academy, the 10 departments immerse students in a deep disciplinary dialog which is balanced by many interdisciplinary opportunities, including elective study. At the end of this two-year period, students prepare a written Master’s Statement and exhibit their work in the Graduate Degree Exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum.
Much of the experience of Cranbrook cannot be described in a listing of curricular offerings, however. To live and work with 150 other artists and designers on a historically significant, exquisitely designed campus is an unusual and remarkable way to study. In addition to the planned programs, the nature of study at Cranbrook develops from the character of the individuals, the chemistry of the group and the singularity of the architectural environment. While it is a place of long-standing creativity and legacy, it is also a living and working community that is always changing and growing.
If you have not received a copy of our newest book, What is Cranbrook Academy of Art?, please request one here. It will help describe – through text, image and design – the unique community that is the Academy.