Q&A With Nayland Blake, Chair of the program

nbseatedWhat would you say is different about ICP’s MFA program?

Some other MFA programs train students for one very narrow kind of career once they leave the school. In effect they are training students to be cogs in a certain type of art world machine. Successful cogs, but still… I like to think we’re helping students to find a variety of ways to make images and to make their way in the world. ICP was founded by a photographer as a way to support the work of his peers. We train students to continue that tradition, by involving them in internships with a variety of different artistic institutions, by training them to write and think critically about the work of other photographers, and by having them organize their own shows, events, and publications.
In other places, the notion is that you are stuck in your studio alone until it’s time to graduate. We’ve created a vibrant, challenging community that brings students into contact with the larger world of picture makers, editors, curators, and writers.

The ICP-Bard MFA program is now in its eighth year and has graduated six classes. Where are your alumni and what have they done since graduation?

As of today, we have alumni working at national magazines, both on staff and as contributors. Two are curators at New York–area galleries. Several are teaching at the university level both in the United States and abroad. In this past year, several of our recent graduates had well-received solo shows. What has been exciting to see is how, in the midst of this activity, many of our graduates maintain strong ties with their classmates and with ICP itself. It is personally gratifying to see the ways that the community begun here has flourished.