Independent Study Program (ISP)
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.
Independent Study Program seminar with artist Donald Judd at his studio in 1974. On Judd’s left is Ron Clark, and on his right is artist Julian Schnabel. Photograph courtesy Barbara Quinn
The 2021-22 Whitney Independent Study Program's studio exhibition presents work made by participants:
Chloe P. Crawford
stephanie mei huang
David L. Johnson
This exhibition Everything is Common is on view from May 20–29, 2022 at Artists Space.
Andrea Geyer (ISP 1999–2000), Intaglio (The Audrey Munson Project), 2008. Inkjet prints, etched glass, and wood frame, 11 × 14 in. (28 × 35.6 cm.)
Jenny Holzer (ISP 1976–77), Inflammatory Essays 1979–82 (installation view, Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, 1989), LED sign with red, green, and yellow diodes and twenty-seven Behel White granit benches, LED sign: 14 × 6,369 1/2 × 4 in. (35.6 × 16,178.5 × 10.2 cm); individual benches: 1 × 36 × 18 in. (43.2 × 91.4 × 45.7 cm)
Glenn Ligon (ISP 1984–85), Warm Broad Glow, 2005. Neon and paint, 36 × 192 in. (91.4 × 487.7 cm)
Tom Otterness (ISP 1973–74), Untitled, 2004 (installation view, two-hundred-meter boulevard at the North Sea)
Curatorial students collaborate to produce an exhibition. Working closely with the Exhibition Coordinator Patricio Orellana 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.
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 Whitney 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.
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. ISP Critical Studies Symposium 2022.
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, 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 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.
Artist Fred Wilson preparing to lead a seminar at the ISP space at 384 Broadway, 1993.
Recent Seminar Leaders and Tutors
LaToya Ruby Frazier
All Applications Must Include:
- A clear indication of which program (studio, critical, or curatorial) you are applying for
- A resume or C.V. including name, address, and telephone number (school and/or permanent)
- 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 (may be sent under separate cover)
- A statement discussing your work, educational experience, and intellectual interests (no more than 2 pages)
- An application fee of $15 (make check order payable to Whitney Museum of American Art)
Studio Program Applicants Must Also Include:
- Reproductions of examples of your recent work—No more than 15 high resolution print-outs, photos, or slides (slides must be enclosed in plastic sleeves). No more than 30 minutes of film or video on a DVD or USB flash drive. Please do not send CD-ROMs.
- Application materials must be enclosed in no larger than a 9 x 12-inch envelope. Oversize material will not be reviewed.
Curatorial Program Applicants Must Also Include:
- Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
- An exhibition proposal (no more than 2 pages)
Critical Studies Applicants Must Also Include:
- Writing sample (no more than 15 pages)
- An individual research project proposal (no more than 4 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.
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
Email inquiries are preferred. Emailed applications will not be accepted.
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.
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.
Tuition for the program is $1,800 per year. Financial assistance in the form of reduced tuition is available on the basis of need.
There is no application form. Please do not apply to more than one program at a time.
Application materials will be treated with care; however, the program cannot be responsible for loss or damage. Application materials will be returned only if a stamped self-addressed envelope is enclosed with the application. It is not possible to pick up your application materials in person.
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.