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San Francisco, CA United States
2:17pm, Nov 13
MFA Never 2020

Root Division biannually showcases the work of current MFA candidates in the Bay Area through an exhibition and archive project called MFA Now. For 2020, we are choosing to to highlight the many talented and successful artists who have opted out of the degree route for one reason or another, in a counterpoint juried exhibition called MFA Never. This will be the second iteration of MFA Never, which was first showcased in 2016 in response to the national dialogue on the valuation of advanced art degrees. Similar to MFA Now, MFA Never will include an exhibition and catalog publication. Jurors are Kevin B. Chen and Marie Martraire.

MFA Never was conceptualized by Root Division's Curatorial Committee member, Rhiannon Evans MacFadyen, to create opportunity for underrepresented artists, those who are unaffiliated with alumni networks, and may have not had the debut opportunity offered by the MFA thesis exhibition. MacFadyen is the founder of Black & White Projects and A Simple Collective, a contemporary arts organization dedicated to, "access, equality, ingenuity, creativity, and independence.l. The goal of the MFA Never project is to create room for dialogue around alternatives to the MFA route, especially in thinking about how higher education can be exclusive in terms of financial viability, and in representing artists of color, queer artists, "outsider" artists etc. We are looking to create visibility for artists who have found a life and practice in the visual arts outside of the academic machine.


The MFA Never 2020 catalog is an inclusionary publication of all eligible applicants, set to be released in March 2020. All eligible artists who submit to MFA Never 2020 will be featured in this archive. The book includes a full page dedicated to each contributing artist and a compilation of essays by Root Division staff, and the panel of exhibition jurors, serving to unpack some of the issues surrounding decisions to not pursue higher education, navigate the contemporary moment in Bay Area outside of the MFA Programs, and find connections between the exhibiting artists.


The jurors will select up to twenty works from the submitted archive materials to be shown in Root Division's gallery for the month of March 2020. An opening reception will be held on March 14, 2020, and will also serve as the archive release party. To be considered for the exhibition, artists must complete the entire submissions process for the archive. Deadline to submit is: JANUARY 6, 2020. The juror will review all submissions. We will notify selected artists of their inclusion in the exhibition by January 21, 2020. (Please note that the piece(s) in the submitted image should be available for exhibition for the entire month of March 2020.)

Visit our website for more information:

Thank you!
How to Apply:   Applicant Eligibility:

In order to be eligible for the MFA Never submitting visual artists must:

- Live in one of the 9 Bay Area Counties

Should meet at least 2 of the following criteria:
- Been included in an exhibition to the public or publication within the past 18 months
- Have an undergraduate degree in fine arts or related field
- Currently be a practicing artist (made new work within the past 12 months)
- Define yourself as a working / professional/ emerging visual artist*
“Visual Arts” (for the purpose of this opportunity) include sculpture, painting, drawing, film/video, photography, ceramics, textiles/ fiber arts, new genres, film/ cinema, design & technology, conceptual and Information Arts, intermedia/installation and social practice.
Application Materials:

1. Completed online application form:

2. $20 Submission Fee:
Covers an MFA Never candidate's inclusion in the MFA Never 2020 Archive, a copy of the archive, and a chance to be in the MFA Never 2020 exhibition at Root Division. Copies of the archive will be available at the opening and during gallery hours throughout the exhibition. Please note that the $20 fee must be on file by 1/6/20 for the email submission to be considered.

3. Email your image to ; The file should be titled LastName_FirstName.tif
Please note for artists submitting video: Please submit a video still (at specs listed above) for print in the publication. For juror review, include a link to the video at the end of the statement section on the online application. For best results, we highly recommend links to Vimeo or YouTube rather than individual websites.


Apply Via Email: