Canguo Lui left China in search of the American dream and an artistic education of a lifetime. The seasoned photographer decided to broaden his horizons and expand his repertoire of skills with a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in Graphic Design at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA).
Located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on the vibrant South Coast — UMass Dartmouth has a long tradition of excellence in its arts and design. It is also the only of the five UMass campuses with a College dedicated to the visual and performing arts, making it an attractive option for those in the creative field.
For his thesis, Lui decided to investigate the future of visual design. Under the guidance of Professor Spencer Ladd, he engaged in highly experimental research that focused on data-driven Responsive Graphic Design in an Augmented Reality (AR) world. Since then, his findings and prototypes have become a reality in many fields.
UMass Dartmouth also afforded him teaching assignments that would help him build job-required experience in the US. Today, he is a tenured professor and lead faculty in graphic design at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California. His innovative pedagogical teaching mixes traditional design classes with the future-focused technologies of AR/VR/3D and motion content.
“My UMass Dartmouth MFA journey has prepared me to be a better learner and educator, and to be part of a global leader in the academic world,” he says. Liu wants nothing more than to inspire a new generation of designers the same way UMass Dartmouth inspired him.
Such 21st-century development is emphasised across every CVPA offering. The college boasts various MFA programs covering Illustration, Graphic Design, Digital Media, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Painting, among others. There are also Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Artisanry and Design that help students refine their skills and fulfil their long-term ambitions.
Each offers practical, theoretical, and creative instruction that focuses on the needs and aspirations of each student. Their small class sizes and hands-on experiences ensure students enjoy an impactful education and passionate discussions. Mediating these conversations is a full-time faculty of established artists and designers who are dedicated to helping students reach their creative potential.
For those passionate about photography, the MFA in Photography programme will prove ideal. During the programme, CVPA educators help students acquire and utilise a more professional skillset. Students also learn to merge technology, cultural, and historic influences with a fine arts sensibility and in the context of global contemporary art.
Quality education aside, students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, including a media lab with a 48” Epson colour printer, black and white darkrooms, and a professional lighting studio.
Each MFA student is supplied with a graduate studio space at UMass Dartmouth’s Star Store campus in New Bedford. This 85,000 square foot downtown arts campus houses all disciplines in graduate study, fostering a communal artistic environment in which multidisciplinary projects and collaborations are possible. Graduate students also have opportunities both to exhibit and curate exhibitions at the Star Store’s 244 Gallery. MFA candidates in their last semester also participate in the annual MFA Exhibition at the University Gallery.
Learning is truly experiential at CVPA. All MFA students are encouraged to evolve into practicing designers, educators, and entrepreneurs well before graduating. For example, graduate assistantships allow students to gain coveted work opportunities while benefiting from stipends, tuition waivers, and fee reductions in the process.
Professional advancements don’t end there. UMass Dartmouth’s Career Center is home to a team of professionals who can review resumes and cover letters; advise students on job or internship searches; prepare students for job interviews via mock interviews; provide networking tips, among others. This can better prepare students for their job searchers and in securing gainful employment upon graduation.
In addition to its faculty expertise and excellent resources, UMass Dartmouth’s location also makes it a highly appealing place for students. It sits close to the state’s most beautiful beaches, and it is also a stone’s throw away from the larger metropolitan centres of Boston, Providence, and New York City –– where many students and graduates have secured internships and employment.
To join them, apply to UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts today to advance your artistic calling.