VCUarts Summer Studio Program

2018 Program Session
June 3 — July 25, 2018



VCUarts Summer Studio Program

2018 Program Session
June 3 — July 25, 2018



film projected onto a wall, in front of the screen there's a silhouette of a female running in place

Program Description

The Summer Studio Program at Virginia Commonwealth University is a supportive and rigorous residency program with an established track record of inspiring and developing artists within a hothouse environment. Based on our successful MFA program, this 7-week intensive program combines theory and practice through: seminars, studio visits, artist lectures, critiques, professional development and intensive studio time.

For nearly a decade, this groundbreaking program has attracted artists globally to help transform and hone their work and ideas. Participants come together for uninterrupted time to work in generous studios and engage in ongoing dialogue with internationally recognized artists, critics and curators. Hands-on commitment to the advancement of the participants by those leading the program is remarkable: it is what sets this opportunity apart.

This two-month residency is ideal for artists developing a portfolio for application to graduate school, as well as those interested in uninterrupted studio immersion with charged feedback inside a stimulating and supportive atmosphere.

What Alumni Have to say

Many of the program’s alumni have gone on to some of the most prestigious graduate programs and residencies in the country. Past program alumni have noted:

“The impact such a short period of time has had on my practice, as well as my social and intellectual life is something I could not have foreseen. I'm sure it will continue to shape my life for years to come.”
“I'm so glad SSP encouraged us to create our own support systems rather than relying on institutions. SSP confronted me with ideas and realities that have made me more confident artist with smarter convictions.”
“SSP will completely shatter your idea of art-making and then rebuild a completely new, more developed, socially and politically responsible practice to launch you far into the future.”
“The feedback I got in this program was the most respectful I feel that I've ever gotten because it didn't sugarcoat, protect, or simply give participation points: my work was taken seriously and held to a standard I hadn't yet been held to in undergrad. It was also expected that I be able to filter through the opinions and take what feedback would push my work the most, a necessary ability moving forward in my career. I learned so much from the many trustworthy voices I encountered at VCU SSP– from both teachers and peers– about my work, my studio practice, and my career as an artist. I come away from SSP with a better understanding of my own work, of contemporary art as a whole, and with a strong network of close friends I found in the other driven and talented artists I met here.”
“SSP can be (and should be) challenging but worthy of participation. Expect to be right, wrong and confused but try to trust the pedagogy and keep an open mind about everything you experience while there. It will make sense perhaps not immediately, but later as a library of pertinent resources.”


2018 Core Faculty

Ryan Lucero
Ryan Lucero is a New York based artist and musician. Lucero’s paintings deal with concepts of bodies in time in relation to surface and value. He earned his BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA in painting from the Bard Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts (2002, 2017). He has exhibited at Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY; Falcon’s Nest, Los Angeles, CA; Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, NY; Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY. Lucero has also performed at MOMA PS1, Long Island City, NY and The Kitchen, New York, NY. He is currently the Fountainhead Fellow at VCU in the Painting and Printmaking Department.
Sara Stern
Sara Stern investigates the space between spectator and performer, user and system, incorporating fiction, role-play, and role-reversal. Her work spans video installation, film, sculpture, performance, writing, and photography. Stern has exhibited and screened her work in the US, Austria, and Germany, at venues including Anthology Film Archives, New York; the Museum of the Moving Image, New York; MuseumsQuartier, Vienna; and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA. Awards include the 2016 Austrian American Short Film Festival award for Best Film in the category of Experimental and Conceptual, Harvard University Council Prize in Visual Arts, and the Henry Russell Shaw Post-Grad Travel Fellowship. Stern received her MFA from Columbia University, and her BA from Harvard University and currently lives and works in New York.

2018 Visiting Faculty

Robert Pruitt
Born in Houston in 1975, Robert A. Pruitt received a BA. from Texas Southern University (2000) in Studio Art and an MFA from The University of Texas in Austin(2003) with a concentration in Painting. He has exhibited his work locally, nationally and internationally most notably at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. He has participated in influential residencies such as Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ArtPace, Fabric Workshop Museum, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. He has received numerous awards including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, The Joan Mitchell Artist Grant, The Artadia Award, a project grant from the Creative Capital Foundation and the William H. Johnson award. Pruitt works in a variety of materials but his practice is largely centered on rendering portraits of the human body, specifically the black body. He projects onto these bodies a juxtaposing series of experiences and material references, denoting a diverse and radical black past, present and future. Pruitt is currently living and working in New York City.
Michael Jones McKean
MICHAEL JONES MCKEAN (b. 1976, Micronesia, lives / works New York City) is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nancy Graves Foundation Award and an Artadia Award. McKean has been awarded fellowships and residencies at The Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The MacDowell Colony, The International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City, The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in New York City.
McKean’s work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Parc Saint Leger Centre d’art Contemporain, Nevers, France: Horton Gallery, New York, NY: The Quebec Biennale, Quebec City, Canada: Gentili Apri, Berlin, Germany: The Art Foundation, Athens, Greece: Inman Gallery, Houston, TX: Parisian Laundry, Montreal, Canada: Project Gentili, Prato, Italy: Shenkar University, Tel Aviv, Israel: The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX among many others.
McKean is currently an Associate Professor in the Sculpture + Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University where he has taught since 2006 and is Co-Director of ASMBLY based in New York City.
Matt King
Matt King (b. 1973, Massachusetts) is Chair of the VCU Department of Sculpture + Extended Media. He received his MFA from Bard College and is a graduate of Cooper Union and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Honors include a 2012-2013 VMFA Visual Arts Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and visiting artist residencies at Fiskars Village, Finland, NCCA in St. Petersburg, Russia, and at the American Academy in Rome. He lives and works in Richmond, VA.
King’s work examines the strangeness of everyday objects, and how their definition, production and circulation intersect with lived experience. His work in sculpture, photography, and drawing has been shown in solo exhibitions at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design, The University of Georgia, Werkstätte (NY), Massimo Audiello (NY), Reynolds Gallery (Richmond, VA) and Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland, OR) as well as group exhibitions at Jane Lombard, Guild & Greyshkul, Luhring Augustine, Stux Gallery, and the Vienna Kunsthalle.
Cara Benedetto
Cara Benedetto is an artist and writer. She received an MFA from Columbia University. Her writing has been published with Badlands, C Magazine, Sleek Magazine, Area Sneaks, Qui Parle, The Third Rail, and Halmos. She is the author of two experimental romance novels, and editor of Contemporary Print Handbook, a printmaking textbook for Universities. Her work has been shown at MOCA Cleveland, MOMA Warsaw, The Jewish Museum, NY, and Metro Pictures, NY. She is represented by Chapter NY, and Night Gallery, LA.She is an Assistant Professor in print media at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Lily Cox Richard
Lily Cox-Richard’s sculpture engages familiar forms and materials that have become unmoored from their original contexts and roles. She mines this distance by digging into their cultural and materials histories and forging new paths between them. Cox-Richard joined the faculty in 2017 as an Assistant Professor in Sculpture + Extended Media and area head of Space Research in the Art Foundation Program. She has been awarded an Artadia grant, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, a postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Michigan’s Society of Fellows, and residencies at the Core Program, Millay Colony, RAIR Philadelphia, and the MacDowell Colony. Recent solo exhibitions include Yvonne (Guatemala City), Artpace (San Antonio, TX), She Works Flexible (Houston), Hirschl & Adler Modern (New York), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), and the Hudson River Museum (New York).
Masa Lemu
Massa Lemu is a visual artist and writer whose multi-disciplinary artistic practice takes the form of drawing, performance, and multimedia installations that are concerned with the contradictions of migration within globalization and the effects of an increasingly immaterialized, flexible and mobile capitalism on the post-colonial subject. Lemu’s text-based work features techniques such as quotation and détournment to tap on the critical possibilities of the polyglot nature of communication in postcoloniality. As a writer, Lemu’s scholarly interests lie in what he calls a biopolitical collectivism in contemporary African art, i.e. a socially engaged, subject-centered, and life-forming collectivist aesthetics. His writing has been published by the Stedelijk Studies Journal, (E-Flux), Center for Contemporary Art Lagos, Contemporaryand (C&), and Third Text. Lemu has a PhD from Stellenbosch University, South Africa, a Master of Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design and was a CORE Fellow at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston.
Noah Simblist
Noah Simblist is Chair of Painting + Printmaking and Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. He works as a curator, writer, and artist with a focus on art and politics and has contributed to Art in America, Art Journal, Modern Painters, Terremoto and other publications. He is editing a book, to be published by University of Chicago Press, about Tania Bruguera’s, The Francis Effect, a project co-produced by the Guggenheim Museum, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and SMU. Curatorial projects include Emergency Measures at the Power Station in Dallas, Queer State(s) at the Visual Arts Center in Austin, and False Flags with Pelican Bomb in New Orleans. In 2016, he was the co-curator and co-producer for New Cities Future Ruins, a convening that invited artists, designers and thinkers to re-imagine and engage the extreme urbanism of America’s Western Sun Belt and is working on a related film festival to premiere in Dallas in 2019.
Hilary Wilder
Hilary Wilder is an artist who works in painting, installation, and video. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship. Wilder has exhibited work in solo exhibitions at venues that include The Suburban (Oak Park, Illinois), Open Satellite (Seattle), the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and Devin Borden Gallery (Houston), and in group exhibitions throughout the US. Her videos have been screened at festivals at the University of Southern California, The Pacific Film Archive, and the Chicago International Film Festival, among others. She has recently participated in artist residencies at the Ucross Foundation, the Jentel Foundation, and at the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SIM) in Reykjavik. In 2004, she completed a two-year fellowship as both a Visual Artist resident and a Critical Studies resident in the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. In addition, she has written catalogue essays for exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Rice University Art Gallery. Wilder received her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2001.
Amber J. Esseiva
Amber J. Esseiva is the Curatorial Assistant at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She holds a B.A. in Art History (2009) from VCU and has worked in several arts institutions in Richmond, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and VCU School of the Arts Anderson Gallery. In 2012, she was a guest curator at VCUarts Qatar in Doha, Qatar. Esseiva received her M.A. in 2015 from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard). At CCS Bard, she curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions featuring works by seminal artists such as David Altmejd, Louisa Chase, Roe Ethridge, Gabriel Orozco, Jason Rhoades, Mika Rottenberg, Kenny Scharf, and Avery K. Singer. She also cofounded the interdisciplinary curatorial journal aCCeSsions and was appointed the curator of the 2014 M.F.A. graduate thesis exhibition.

Past Faculty and Visitors


Julie Grosche
Julie Grosche (b.1986, France) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, and is a graduate of Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Art in Dijon, France. Her work has appeared internationally and has recently shown at Galerie Escougnou Cetraro, Paris; Favorite Goods, Los Angeles, CA; Kappa Theta Phi, Richmond, VA; Emerson-Dorsch, Miami, FL; L’Atelier KSR, Berlin, Germany; Era VI VII VI, New York, NY; SPACES, Cleveland, OH. As a curator she has produced exhibitions internationally: based in Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Reference Gallery, Richmond, VA; and Oslo10, Basel, Switzerland. She co-founded PMgalerie in Berlin, Bcc an itinerant curatorial platform and ASMBLY based in NYC. She teaches and is the director of the Summer Studio Program at Virginia Commonwealth University.



Artists with undergraduate degrees who want to develop a body of work to serve as a portfolio for application to excellent graduate programs.

Artists with undergraduate degrees who are interested in further developing studio work and critical thinking in a creative professional environment.

Artists, perhaps farther along in their careers, who wish to participate in a critical dialogue to push their work to the next level.

Please note
The Summer Studio Program is progressive; students using traditional media as well as those who work in electronic media, performance, installation, conceptual and experimental hybrid forms are invited to apply.

group of students in a classroom during lecture, instructor showing abstract art on the large TV screen

Cultural Equity

The Summer Studio Program is committed to the principle of cultural equity and empowering a just, inclusive, and equitable community. We believe that cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, religion, age, or disability—are given equal opportunities to participate in SSP and the wider VCUarts community as prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, or staff.


Each week of the program includes group critiques, individual studio visits and a rigorous seminar: a focal point for group discussion of contemporary ideas, theory and issues based on readings and events. All of this is in addition to plenty of studio time.

  • Group Critiques
  • Individual Studio Visits
  • Seminar/Theory
  • Workshop professional practices (including preparing for graduate school, artist statement).

Also mixed in the calendar are numerous visiting artist lectures and studio visits, museum and gallery field trips. The last week includes exit reviews by SSP@VCU faculty and a culminating on-campus exhibition of work produced during the program.

two female students working in a studio


Participants have 24-hour access to a 114,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility housed at the VCUarts Fine Arts Building near downtown Richmond, Virginia. Participants have the use of painting studios, woodshop, metal studio, mold making studio, computer lab and video editing facilities as well as University Library privileges and Wi-Fi access. Technical assistance is provided in the sculpture shops and computer lab.

Please note the foundry and print making studio are not running over the summer.

Click here to view Painting Facilities
Click here to view Sculpture Facilities

male student working in a studio


  • Work full time in their VCU studios for the duration of the program.
  • Participate in all seminars, critiques, reviews and events.
  • Participate in the exit exhibition (including planning, installation, lighting, etc.)
  • Produce photographic documentation of work done during the summer program.

a student talks about his art in front of a podium


Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is a diverse cultural city, surrounded by historic neighborhoods, parks and the James River — home to one of the largest inner city park systems in the country. The city consistently ranks among "Best Places to Live and Work in America." Richmond is ideally located within easy reach of Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.

Near the center of downtown is Virginia Commonwealth University, a tier one public research university with over 31,000 students and 222 degree and certificate programs spread throughout its 13 schools and colleges. VCUarts, with over 3100 students is one is the largest schools in the University and is ranked as the #1 public university for art and design in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Students can find nearby, off-campus housing during the program. Students are responsible for arranging their living situation. Sublets range in price and availability, for a general overview of prices see Craigslist Richmond. You should plan to spend between $500 and $800 for a bedroom in a shared apartment or in a private one.

Program Fee

Fee: $4,950

A limited number of scholarships will be awarded to students whose work is of exceptional quality. All students will be considered for these scholarships during the application process.


Email your application to in one folder labeled Firstname_Lastname_SSP . In the folder put only two PDFs:
  • PDF 1: Ten images of recent work with title, year, medium and dimensions listed under each image, videos can be sent to via google drive.
  • PDF 2: One-page artist’s statement + CV/resume including name, date of birth, address, telephone number and e-mail address + Two references (no letters) with name, title if applicable, phone number and email contact.
Mail your fee:
  • Application fee of $25 - Check payable to VCU SSP to this address:

    VCU Summer Studio Program
    Box 842016
    1000 W. Broad Street Room #351
    Richmond, VA 23284-3005


Julie Grosche, Program Director at

Applications that are incomplete, unreadable, late, or fail to meet the above requirements will not be submitted to the jury.

Please Note
  • There is no application form.
  • All checks and mail must be addressed to VCU Summer Studio Program.
  • We request proof of health insurance; if you are unable to provide proof of health insurance you will need to sign a release and waiver of liability form.
  • SSP fosters artistic growth; university credit is not available. While program graduates may apply for admission to VCU’s MFA programs, SSP is not a portal to admission.
  • There is no financial aid available for SSP.
  • SSP does not focus on any specific medium.


2018 PROGRAM SESSION: JUNE 3 – JULY 25, 2018


  • Deadline for Application: April 15, 2018
  • Notification of Acceptance: End of April
  • Program deposit $200: May 7th, 2018
  • Program Fee due $4,750: May 21, 2018
  • Program Session: June 3 – July 25, 2018
  • Orientation: Sunday, June 3, 2018


Contact Julie Grosche, Program Director at