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Independent Study Program (ISP)

The Independent Study Program (ISP) consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Program, Critical Studies Program, and Curatorial 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.

Explore the ISP 40th anniversary book

Apply to the ISP

All applicants must include:

  • A clear indication of which program you are applying for (studio, critical, or curatorial). Please do not apply to more than one program at a time
  • A resume or C.V. including name, address, and telephone number (school and/or permanent)
  • A school you are currently attending or have attended, degree program, and expected date of graduation (may be included in your C.V.)
  • Two letters of recommendation. Applicants will submit recommenders’ contact information in the application and the recommenders will be notified by email about how to upload their letters of recommendation
  • A statement discussing your work, educational experience, and intellectual interests (no more than 1500 words)

There are no submission fees and no tuition.

The 2023 application is now closed.

In addition to the general application, all Studio Program applicants must also submit examples of recent work with brief descriptions of media and scale. Please do not submit more than 15 examples. 

If submitting film or video examples, please include these as links (hosted on a website, Vimeo, YouTube or other platform). Film and video submissions should not exceed 30 minutes. If linking to a longer program, please indicate timestamps or sections to be viewed.  

In addition to the general application, all Critical Studies applicants must also include:

  • Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
  • An individual research project proposal (no more than 4 pages)

In addition to the general application, all Curatorial Program applicants must also include:

  • Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
  • An exhibition proposal (no more than 2 pages)

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.

The ISP provides studios or workspaces for all participants in a facility that includes areas to gather and share meals. The curriculum of the program is designed around weekly seminars with visiting artists, scholars and members of faculty as well as film screenings and readings. 

Participants are expected to attend all seminars and events, as well as work in assigned studios or workspaces at the facility. If you are accepted into the ISP, you are expected to be an active participant in the community of practitioners gathered at the program. There are no remote options for seminars, visits, or events, unless pandemic conditions and/or health concerns require alternative planning. 

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.

Applications will be accepted through an online system, starting March 6, 2023. Applicants will be able to start an application online and develop it until the final due date of submission or earlier. All applications must be fully submitted by April 3, 2023. 

Recommenders will be contacted by email with instructions on how to upload letters of recommendation to be submitted by the April 3, 2023 due date.

Please do not apply to more than one program at a time.

If you have further inquiries, please email:

There is no tuition to study at the ISP.

After a preliminary review of applications by a five person committee chaired by the director, arrangements will be made to interview final candidates. All applicants will be contacted by June.

What's New

Roy Lichtenstein Studio Project

The Whitney Museum of American Art is transforming artist Roy Lichtenstein’s Greenwich Village studio into a permanent home for the ISP.

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Gregg Bordowitz Named Director

The renowned artist, writer, teacher, and activist Gregg Bordowitz has been named director of the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. Bordowitz succeeds founding director Ron Clark, who is retiring in June 2023 following a 54-year tenure. Bordowitz, an alumnus and long-time visiting faculty member of the ISP, will begin his tenure at the Museum on February 1, 2023 but he will officially take over the program after Clark’s retirement. 

Read the Press Release

Upcoming Events

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Studio Program

Philip Cartelli
Tony Chrenka
Eli Coplan
Giulia Gabrielli
Utsa Hazarika
Jack Hogan
Kyle Bellucci Johanson
Ayesha Kamal Khan
Sophie Kovel
Emilio Martínez Poppe
Anna Rubin
Chi Yin Sim

Critical Studies Program

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.

Madison Hampton
Sophia Larigakis
Dahlia Li
Jazmín Lopez
Sonya Merutka
Max Tolleson

Curatorial Program

Curatorial students collaborate to produce an exhibition. Exhibition Supervisor Margaret Liu Clinton and curators at the Whitney work with students to 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.

KJ Abudu
Zachary Feldman
Emily Small
Johanna Thorell

Course Structure

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 Mary Kelly, Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Laura Mulvey, Isaac Julien, Gregg Bordowitz, Andrea Fraser, Chantal Mouffe, Alex Alberro, Nora Alter, Cassandra Guan, and Soyoung Yoon.

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 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.

Alex Alberro
Nora Alter
Emily Apter
Carol Armstrong
Homi Bhabha
Gregg Bordowitz
Benjamin Buchloh
Matthew Buckingham
Judith Butler
Jonathan Crary
Thomas Crow
Rosalyn Deutsche
Mark Dion
Silvia Federici
Hal Foster
Andrea Fraser 
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Coco Fusco
Jennifer González
Isabelle Graw
Renée Green
Cassandra Guan
Hans Haacke
David Harvey
Sharon Hayes
Thomas Hirschhorn
Jenny Holzer
Chrissie Iles
Alfredo Jaar
Emily Jacir
Gareth James
Isaac Julien
Geeta Kapur
Mary Kelly
Silvia Kolbowski
Miwon Kwon
Louise Lawler
Park McArthur
Tom McDonough
Kobena Mercer
Chantal Mouffe
Laura Mulvey
Mark Nash
Molly Nesbit
Christiane Paul
Adrian Piper
Yvonne Rainer
Martha Rosler
Andrew Ross
Gayatri Spivak
Hito Steyerl
Anthony Vidler
Fred Wilson
Yes Men
Soyoung Yoon


Curated by KJ Abudu, Zachary B. Feldman, Emily Small, and Johanna Thorell, the 2022–2023 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program.

May 20–29, 2022

Curated by Daría Sól Andrews, Sally Eaves Hughes, and Klaudia Ofwona Draber, the 2021–22 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program.

Curated by Weiyi Chang, Sofia Jamal, Colleen O’Connor, and Patricio Orellana, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2019–20.

Curated by Nia Nottage, Gwyneth Shanks, and Simon Wu, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2018–19.

Curated by Elisa R. Linn, Joseph Lubitz, Ellen Pavey, and Manabu Yahagi, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2017–18.

Curated by Magdalyn Asimakis, Jared Quinton and Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program,  2016–17. 

Curated by Daniella Rose King, Viktor Neumann, Samuele Piazza, and Kari Rittenbach, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2015–16.

Curated by Alexander Fleming, Anya Komar, and Blair Murphy, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2014–15.

Curated by Maria Teresa Annarumma, Molly Everett, Joo Yun Lee, and Kristine Jærn Pilgaard, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2013–14.

Curated by Nina Horisaki-Christens, Andrea Neustein, Victoria Rogers, and Jason Waite, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program, 2012–13.

Curated by Anik Fournier, Michelle Lim, Amanda Parmer and Robert Wuilfe, Whitney Independent Study Program Curatorial Fellows, 2009–2010.

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, 2011–12.

Curated by Jennifer Burris, Sofía Olascoaga, Sadia Shirazi, and Gaia Tedone, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Independent Study Program, 2010–11.

Event Archive

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Generous support for the Independent Study Program is provided endowments created by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation.

Significant support is provided by The Capital Group Charitable Foundation and Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa.

Additional support is provided by an endowment created by George S. Harris.



A 30-second online art project:

Peter Burr, Sunshine Monument

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