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Queens College Programs Educate Artists for Social Change

-- New Post-Graduate-Level Certificate Builds on Success of “Social Practice Queens” MFA;
Open House To Be Held March 18 --

QUEENS, NY, March 13, 2017 – Artists who want to use their work to change the world for the better have found a home at Queens College

Since 2012 QC has offered Social Practice Queens (SPQ), a unique Master of Fine Arts (MFA) concentration in the art department that brings together the resources of the college with the longstanding activism of Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Using an interdisciplinary, project-based approach, students create works specifically for a public setting, exploring the relationship between art and real-life social issues. Often the work is a community collaboration.

For example, two SPQ students working with the Flushing Interfaith Council—and aided by funds from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation—created an event in January celebrating the diverse faiths of Flushing. For this “Beacon of Pluralism” project, religious leaders representing Christian, Unitarian and Quaker churches, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and the Bahá’í faith gathered at the historic Quaker Meeting House for a candle-lighting ceremony that the students video-recorded. For the project, they also photographed Flushing churches, temples and mosques.

“This innovative social practice program, which combines creativity with community engagement and empowerment, reflects the high quality of our Art Department and its commitment to developing the full potential of our talented art students,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

Social practice programs are expanding in the U.S. and abroad, but are far from common at liberal arts colleges. In New York City, only NYU and specialized arts schools such as Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute offer the program for student-artists committed to social justice through their work.

“No other college offering social practice as a program or concentration has a partnership with a major museum,” said Gregory Sholette, associate professor in QC’s art department and SPQ co-founder/administrator. “In addition, social practice emphasizes the local in the global, so the diverse population of Queens makes it a natural setting for our program.” Current students hail from across America as well as from Iran, Columbia, Kenya, Bangladesh, and South Korea.

Building on the success of SPQ, next fall the college will offer a two-semester, 24-credit post-Master’s Certificate in Critical Social Practice. Applicants with an MFA or MA from a variety of fields may apply. This new certificate program offers one-on-one mentoring and access to Queens College and CUNY faculty from relevant academic fields, including urban studies, as well as the arts community at large.

“Students will learn how to manage a social justice arts project throughout the entire process, from writing grant applications to managing the project’s personnel to acquiring publicity,” said Sholette.

SPQ professor Chloe Bass explained that the social practice program “emphasizes the importance of community engagement as an aspect of public education. Our diverse university is an ideal site for the critical thinking required for this work."

Potential applicants can learn more about the MFA concentration in Social Practice and the new Certificate in Critical Social Practice—applications due April 20—by attending an Open House on Saturday, March 18 from 1-3 pm. Location: Klapper Hall Art Department Conference Room (1st floor). Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Gregory Sholette (646) 319-6387. Queens College is located at 65-30 Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, Queens. Driving and public transportation directions at: http://www.qc.cuny.edu/directions.

In addition to support from the Rubin Foundation, SPQ was awarded a generous grant from the Vilcek Foundation, a philanthropy that raises awareness of immigrant contributions to the arts in America. The Vilcek award will help support the development of SPQ student-led community art projects in the 2017/2018 academic year.

About Queens College
Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals in the metropolitan area. It also contributes to the city’s talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more undergraduate computer science majors than any New York City college  and the third largest number of accounting and business students in all of New York State.

As part of a well-rounded liberal arts education, students have the opportunity to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. One of the college’s oldest and most distinguished programs, its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized—some Grammy Award-winning—composers, conductors and performers.

Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its nearly 19,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more.

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