Recently ranked No. 1 among the metals/jewelry programs in America by the US News & World Report's 2009 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, the Master of Fine Arts program in Metal has mixed contemporary theory with traditional methods and artistry at the college since the 1960s.
"It is extra nice to think of the many people that have contributed to its recognition and momentum over the years," said Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, co-director of the program.
The program was created by Kurt Matzdorf, professor emeritus, who is a nationally known gold and silversmith artist. He also designed the college's mace and the presidential chain.
Also in the 2009 edition, the college's Master of Fine Arts program as a whole was named as one of the top 100 in the country.
Led by Mimlitsch-Gray and Jamie Bennett, the two-year graduate program provides students with the guidance and tools needed for careers in metal smithing and jewelry making.
Bennett said after earning a Master of Fine Arts (a terminal degree) students go on to do independent studio work, teach at a college level or work in a related profession. Mimlitsch-Gray and Bennett, both nationally recognized artists, team-teach and hold joint critiquing sessions with their graduate students. The program is designed so that one faculty member teaches the formal seminar while the other meets one-on-one with students to discuss their studio work and practice.
Adjunct professors, graduate assistants and metal technician John Cogswell supplement the program, which maintains a small cohort of about 10-12 students. "Our teaching styles are collaborative and we encourage the process of thinking critically and of discovery," said Bennett.
A shining example of the program's success is that members were invited to participate in an international exhibition, symposium and educational forum in Florence, Italy, earlier this month. The New Paltz delegation, which included Bennett, Mimlitsch- Gray and nine students, was one of only two universities from the United States invited to attend "Siamo Qui We are Here" in mid-April. Sarah Abramson '08g, Katherine Bauman '08g, Burcu Büyükünal '11g, Nikky Bergman '08g, Tia Dale '11g, Sung Young Huh '08g, James Sachs '08g, Jessica Stephens '08g and Sarah Troper '08g designed an installation, produced publications and made presentations.
Forty-eight of the required 60 credit hours take place in the 10,000-square-foot studio in the Fine Arts Building. The main room is fully equipped with forming and smithing tools, and general machinery, such as band saws, drill presses, shears, rolling mills and grinding tools. There are also task spaces designed for conducting such processes as polishing and casting, an enameling station and individual student workspaces.For more information about the program, visit www.newpaltz.edu/metal.