The MA Curatorial Practices and the Public Sphere aims to bring students to a high level of understanding of the history and theory of curatorial practices, with attention paid to questions of how curating activates art in relation to a range of publics. The seminars and the Roski Talks/Graduate Lecture Series address theories and histories of art and performance, and focus on theories of social practice, the public sphere, what constitutes art’s publics, and how curatorial practice can address and engage various different kinds of audience.
The curriculum of the MA is designed to give students extensive experience in devising a final curatorial project through the three-course long Practicum course sequence, and to achieve the noted intellectual and professional goals through seminars in theory and history of art. Some of the course also focus on aiding students in developing a range of research and writing skills, culminating in a written thesis mentored by a faculty member and thesis committee.
A further aim of the program—through the Roski Talks/Graduate Lecture Series as well as a fieldtrip course (Art and Curatorial Visits) and the internship requirement—is to introduce students to curators, artists, and scholars working across the range of Los Angeles art, performance, and curatorial venues and beyond. Students complete a field internship, working directly in a curatorial environment for course credit, and take the course Art and Curatorial Visits, giving them the opportunity to visit curatorial departments at museums and galleries, public art venues such as the LA Department of Cultural Affairs, artists' studios, and related art institutions across Los Angeles, meeting key players and observing professional curatorial contexts.
Throughout the program, MA students work closely with art, design, and other USC faculty across the university, as well as fellow MFA students. To this end, the MA includes two core courses taken with the MFA cohort, including a seminar entitled History and Theory of Art and Exhibitions, a deep history of the role of the artist, views about the public sphere, and art institutions, including curatorial and museum practices; and Making and Curating Art: Praxis and Pedagogy, a course on the history of the art school and art teaching as well as on histories and theories of curatorial studies, focusing on influential moments such as the Bauhaus in the 1930s and CalArts in the 1970s, as well as leading students through practical issues such as the making of a syllabus, the composition of an artist's statement, and teaching strategies. Other courses (notably those of the Practicum series) emphasize direct practical experience leading towards the realization of art exhibitions but also performance art programming and other hybrid modes of arts curating.