Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts

Off the Rails

By: - Aug 29, 2021

The MFA program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts has come to an end. We decided not to accept an incoming class for Fall 2020. The class that graduated in May 2021 was the last class to graduate from the program.

The program has had a good long run of 16 years. It was a writing program for people who wanted to write about art, with an emphasis on literature, philosophy, the relation between aesthetics and politics, and the history and future of the image. We proved that it is possible to teach the craft of art writing in an art school. And we sent 112 art writers out into the world to write, edit, teach and make a difference.

Our intention was to give students an intellectual base they could build on for the rest of their lives, and sources they could draw on into the future.

In their Summer issue (July/August 2021), the Brooklyn Rail published a tribute to the program in their print edition, and a larger tribute online, including 17 testimonials from faculty members in the program:

In September 2021, the Rail will also publish a number of statements about the Art Writing program and its legacy from the alumni of the program. These can be found on the Rail’s website: ("In Memoriam”).

The Rail also hosted a live tribute to the Art Writing program on August 19, 2021, featuring faculty members Michael Brenson, Nancy Princenthal, Jennifer Krasinski, and Jen Kabat, and alumni Jessica Holmes, Emmanuel Iduma, Will Fenstermaker, and Hakim Bishara, in conversation with Charlie Schultz and Ann Collins from the Rail. It is a celebration and tribute to the program, to what it did and what’s possible in the teaching of cultural response. To view a record of that event on YouTube, go to:

The complete archive of the Art Writing Lecture series, and the Quijote Talks series, over the past 16 years, can now be found on the SVA YouTube channel:

And the magnificent anthology of writings from the life of the program, Hold Everything Dear: Selections from Degree Critical and the School of Visual Arts MFA Art Writing Published Archive, put together by Jessica Holmes (Class of 2014), Lune Ames (Class of 2019), Cigdem Asatekin (Class of 2017), and assisted by Geronimo Cristobal (Class of 2021), is now available here:

Thanks to alumnus David Shuford (Class of 2021) and the SVA Library, the Art Writing departmental library and the Leo Steinberg Collection will now be held by the SVA Library.I want to thank my trusted assistant, Annette Wehrhahn, for her years of dedicated service to the program, all the teachers who gave so much to it, and especially the students, who made it all worth it.  


—David Levi Strauss, Chair of the MFA program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts