Nayland Blake Wants You To Think

The ICP-Bard MFA chair discusses his program
Nayland Blake

What would you say is different about ICP’s MFA program?

Our students work hard, not only at their own individual projects, but also at a series of public events that they put on during the year: exhibitions, publications, conferences, and internships. They are learning to make work in the studio and to make opportunities for themselves and their peers in the world at large. By organizing conferences and studio visits, by collaborating with other programs in the area and around the world, by publishing books and participating in fairs, our students emerge from our program poised and ready to engage with the international community of image makers.

We are concerned with training photographers to be active, impassioned thinkers. I think that the ability to work with diverse communities in many ways is the attitude that distinguishes our graduates rather than any particular style of photographic practice.

Why does the program place such an emphasis on writing and publication?

Publication is more than ever the future of photography. Online digital forums are simply another type of publication. More than ever, photographers are not simply producing images, they are explicating those images for each other and for the world. Without a clear understanding of how to speak about what you are seeing and what you are making, you are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to making your way in the world. We hire faculty that understand this and actively support the students through both the writing and publishing process.

Photo by Ben Jarosch