The Independent Study Program (ISP) consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Program, Curatorial Program, and Critical Studies Program. The ISP provides a setting within which students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in ongoing discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production. The program encourages the theoretical and critical study of the practices, institutions, and discourses that constitute the field of culture.
Each year fifteen students are selected to participate in the Studio Program, four in the Curatorial Program, and six in the Critical Studies Program. Curatorial and critical studies students are designated as Helena Rubinstein Fellows in recognition of the substantial support provided to the program by the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. The program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.
The participants in the Studio Program are engaged in a variety of art practices with an emphasis on installation work, film and video, photography, performance, and various forms of interdisciplinary practice. The program provides studio space and facilities in our loft in downtown Manhattan. The Studio Program exhibition is held in May.
2013 Studio Program posterDownload
2012 Exhibition CatalogueDownload
Curatorial students collaborate to produce an exhibition. Working closely with the program’s faculty and curators at the Whitney, the students develop proposals for the exhibition. Once a proposal has been approved by the Museum’s curators, the students proceed to select artworks, arrange loans, and design and oversee the installation of the exhibition. The students write essays for and participate in the production of a catalogue accompanying their exhibition.
Maintenance is crucial for the continuation of our physical infrastructure, our society, and our lives. The often repetitive and mundane work of maintenance sustains people, objects, and institutions, and supports our constant struggle against entropy and decay. Ubiquitous but unseen and undervalued, maintenance comprises the essential systems of support that clear the ground for all other forms of work. Investigating the diversity of maintenance tasks, Maintenance Required examines the large-scale systems that construct our daily lives.
Curated by Nina Horisaki-Christens, Andrea Neustein, Victoria Rogers, and Jason Waite, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2012–13
Creative destruction refers to capitalism’s inherent tendency to create new wealth by destroying the previous economic order. Initially described by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, this concept was popularized in the United States after World War II when economist Joseph Schumpeter adapted it as a model of economic innovation but still warned of its self-destructive nature. Creative Destruction reclaims the phrase in order to emphasize how preexisting systems of representation can be reconfigured for different political purposes.
Curated by denisse andrade, Liz Park, Tim Saltarelli, and Kristina Scepanski, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, 2011–2012.
Ethical cohabitation—how to live together and how to be in the shared environment—is the problem that brings together the sociopolitical, cultural, and ecological within this exhibition. While ostensibly aiming to achieve harmonious balance, such relations are nevertheless inherently antagonistic and always unstable. In this context, how does one choose to act?
Curated by Anik Fournier, Michelle Lim, Amanda Parmer and Robert Wuilfe, Whitney Independent Study Program Curatorial Fellows, 2009–2010
The term foreclosure today is associated with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Caught in a cycle of crisis provoked by this collapse, the instinctive reaction is to search for solutions within the very institutional logic that produced the problem. Foreclosed: Between Crisis and Possibility examines these responses by beginning with a reexamination of the term itself and locating this investigation within a global context.
Curated by Jennifer Burris, Sofía Olascoaga, Sadia Shirazi, and Gaia Tedone, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Independent Study Program, 2010–2011
Critical Studies participants engage in individual scholarly research and critical writing projects through tutorials with a professional art historian, critic, or cultural theorist. The program’s faculty arranges tutorials and provides additional advice and guidance. A symposium is held in May at the Whitney, at which the Critical Studies students present papers.
The faculty of the ISP is available to meet individually with all members of the program to discuss their work or more general practical, theoretical, or historical questions. The program’s regular and visiting faculty members are Ron Clark, Mary Kelly, Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Laura Mulvey, Isaac Julien, Gregg Bordowitz, Andrea Fraser, Chantal Mouffe, Alex Alberro, Jennifer Gonzalez, Okwui Enwezor, and Sarah Lookofsky.
Each week during the year, a professional artist, theorist, or historian conducts a seminar at the program. Members of all three components of the program participate in these seminars, which focus on the work of the seminar leader. In addition, all members of the program participate in a weekly reading seminar in social and cultural theory led by Ron Clark and members of the program’s visiting faculty. This seminar provides an occasion for the group to collectively study and discuss contemporary critical theory. There is a particular emphasis on the methodologies of critical cultural studies and social art history.
Those eligible for participation in the ISP include graduate students, candidates for advanced postgraduate degrees, undergraduates with a demonstrated capacity for advanced scholarship, or those who have recently completed formal academic study. The ISP welcomes international applications and can provide a J-1 cultural visa if needed.
Credit may be granted by the students’ home universities for work done in the ISP. Most cooperating schools grant twelve to sixteen credits for participation in the program. Students need to make the necessary arrangements to receive credit.
All application materials and supporting documents must be received by April 1.
Send applications to:
Ron Clark, Director
Independent Study Program
100 Lafayette St., 5th floor
New York, NY 10013
t (212) 431-1737
f (212) 431-1783
Email inquiries are preferred. Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.
After a preliminary review of applications by the program’s faculty, arrangements will be made to interview final candidates. Studio Program and Critical Studies Program applicants will be contacted in late April; Curatorial Program applicants will be contacted in early May.
Support for The Independent Study Program is provided by Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa, The Capital Group Charitable Foundation, the Whitney Contemporaries through their annual Art Party benefit, the Easton Foundation, the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Edward and Sally Van Lier Foundation, and an anonymous donor.
Endowment support is provided by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, and George S. Harris.
The Independent Study Program is an equal opportunity education program. The Program does not discriminate because of age, sex, religion, race, color, national origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other factor prohibited by law.