Receive an MFA Degree in 90 Minutes and Pay $0

With many in the art world questioning the real value of prestigious but expensive MFA degrees (notably the artist Coco Fusco in a 2013 essay for Modern Painters), San Francisco’s non-accredited Tenderloin Institute of Art offers to resolve that debate with an MFA program you can take for nothing and in just an hour and a half. (For more artnet content on art school tuition costs see Has Cooper Union Found a Way to Charge Tuition Despite Lawsuit? and Student Pays Back Tuition Fees by Selling Art Online).

Bay Area artist Jeremiah Jenkins will be the sole instructor and MFA department chair. As for his qualifications, Jenkins has been included in shows at Oakland’s Hatch Gallery and Transmission Gallery, and San Francisco’s Southern Exposure and Ever Gold. In the part of his CV that indicates what institutions have acquired his work, he lists a couple of university museums and the artist Mel Chin.

He’s dishing out MFA degrees to those who desire one over two weekends (the next session is on April 25), reports ArtSlant.

Jenkins says the project’s purpose is not to “discredit anyone’s reasons for going to grad school or getting an MFA or pursuing art at all.” There are no prerequisites. It is more a comical approach to letting everyone know they can be creative, as Joseph Beuys asserted with his mantra “Every human being is an artist.”

Jenkins isn’t the first to try to shake up the art education model; in New York, the anonymous artists who make up the Bruce High Quality Foundation have launched the BHQF University (BHQFU), a non-accredited school where you can take classes with artists young and old (Brad Troemel, David Salle), curators (Ruba Katrib), and others.

Tenderloin’s website says that “students will learn to develop a body of work, formulate it conceptually, and apply critical reasoning.” After an hour or so of doing those things, “students will exhibit their resulting work and walk away with an MFA.” Right.

But, full disclosure, the Tenderloin Institute of Art is not a job training program. It’s more like a “conceptual social sculpture art piece.”

Classes will be held at SFAQ [Project] Space, a venue run by the Bay Area publication SFAQ.

Jenkins tells Artslant the project isn’t about slighting the real MFA degrees out there, but he does say in the disclaimer, “These degrees [MFAs] are mostly for bullshitting and talking yourself up to other in order to get some kind of feigned respect or interest.”

Heck, there are even art PhDs now. Maybe that will be the next offering from Tenderloin, though you’d probably have to invest at least a day for that one.


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