Applications being accepted for new MFA-Visualization degree

The Department of Visualization at the Texas A&M College of Architecture is offering a new, technology-infused Master of Fine Arts degree program that will prepare students for careers in digital art education, fine arts, entertainment and media industries, as well as art as a vocation.

The MFA-Visualization degree, approved effective Nov. 1, 2011 by the Texas Coordinating Board of Higher Education, will be offered beginning this fall with applications being accepted through Jan. 5, 2012.

The new offering, said Tim McLaughlin, head of the Department of Visualization, will allow Texas students to stay in state and earn a fine arts degree that incorporates critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math in coursework including the practice of digital art and design, time-based media, interactive environments, physical computing, and contemporary art theory and criticism.

Technology, science, math, art and design are inseparable in large segments of contemporary methods of visual communication, said McLaughlin, and the new degree program will enhance the department’s ability to prepare graduate students for careers in the field.

“Our existing Master of Science in Visualization program has been performing exceptionally well in educating technical artists equipped to make an impact in the commercial world,” he said, referring to the many former students working at the world’s top digital animation and special effects studios. “Though we've managed occasional successes in our ability to impact higher education and the practice of studio art, with the new MFA-V degree our graduates will now be prepared to meet the global demand for digital art educators and to practice art as vocation.”

This need was illustrated in the November 2008 College Art Association's career listing, which posted 57 jobs requiring expertise in digital media among 220 university teaching positions.

According to the Texas Cultural Trust, creative sector jobs will count for 1 in 12 jobs statewide by 2016. These include computer, mathematical, architecture, engineering, sciences, art, design, entertainment, sport and media occupations.

A 2008 Dun & Bradstreet report noted an 11 percent-increase in arts-related businesses and a six percent-increase in employment in the previous two-year period. And, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 612,095 businesses nationwide involved in the creation or distribution of the arts in January 2008, employing 2.98 million people; between 2007 and 2008 the number of art-related businesses grew 12%.

In addition to favorable job opportunities upon graduating, students pursing the new MFA-V degree will have access to the Texas A&M Visualization Laboratory’s professional-grade digital tools including:

  • High-performance dual-screen graphical workstations, large format archival printers, 3d rapid prototype printers, a high-resolution scanner, physical fabrication facilities;
  • A large assortment of component technology, such as projectors, sensors, infrared tracking, wireless controllers, screens and speakers for installation and interactive experience projects;
  • High-definition image acquisition devices, including professional digital still cameras, full 1080p video cameras and portable field production kits, , lighting, sound stage, and an audio post-production suite;
  • Stereographic 3d image production capability from workstation to live action;
  • Large format, flat panel devices, including stereographic displays mounted to accommodate a variety of uses, and high-definition projection in auditoriums and classrooms.

Though an art degree, visualization professor Dick Davison anticipates that the MFA will maintain the art and science symbiosis that makes the Master of Science in Visualization so effective as a discipline.

"We anticipate that the MFA-Visualization projects will not be radically different from the MS program; perhaps there will be more reference to the 'art world,' but not necessarily less involved in science and technology. "

The latest visualization program offered at Texas A&M, the MFA-V joins the Bachelor of Science in Visualization degree program, which began in 2009, and the Master of Science in Visualization program, which began in 1989. The programs are administered by the Department of Visualization, which was established in the College of Architecture in 2008.

posted November 14, 2011