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Independent study program

The Independent Study Program (ISP) consists of three interrelated parts: Studio Program, Curatorial Program, and Critical Studies Program. The ISP provides a setting within which students pursuing art practice, curatorial work, art historical scholarship, and critical writing engage in ongoing discussions and debates that examine the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of artistic production. The program encourages the theoretical and critical study of the practices, institutions, and discourses that constitute the field of culture.

Each year fifteen students are selected to participate in the Studio Program, four in the Curatorial Program, and six in the Critical Studies Program. Curatorial and critical studies students are designated as Helena Rubinstein Fellows in recognition of the substantial support provided to the program by the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. The program begins in early September and concludes at the end of the following May. Many of the participants are enrolled at universities and art schools and receive academic credit for their participation, while others have recently completed their formal studies.

Studio Program

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 19, 2016, 5–8 pm

The studio exhibition presents work made by participants in the 2016 Whitney Independent Study Studio Program: Noor Abed, Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess, Tasha Bjelić, Brian Block, Daniel Cerrejón, Zorica Čolić, Sonia Louise Davis, Raphael Fleuriet, Maya Krinsky, Jim Grilli, Julia Phillips, Alan Ruiz, Carrie Schneider, Shevaun Wright.

The exhibition remains on view from May 19–June 2 at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA) Project Space, 323 West 39th Street, 2nd Floor. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 12–6 pm. Admission is free.

2016 Studio Program poster
2014 Studio Program poster
2013 Studio Program poster
2012 Exhibition Catalogue

Curatorial Program

Curatorial students collaborate to produce an exhibition. Working closely with the program’s faculty and curators at the Whitney, the students develop proposals for the exhibition. Once a proposal has been approved by the Museum’s curators, the students proceed to select artworks, arrange loans, and design and oversee the installation of the exhibition. The students write essays for and participate in the production of a catalogue accompanying their exhibition.


Critical Studies Program

Critical Studies participants engage in individual scholarly research and critical writing projects through tutorials with a professional art historian, critic, or cultural theorist. The program’s faculty arranges tutorials and provides additional advice and guidance. A symposium is held in May at the Whitney, at which the Critical Studies students present papers.

Recent seminar leaders and tutors

Vito Acconci 
Alex Alberro 
Nora Alter
Emily Apter 
Carol Armstrong 
Homi Bhabha 
Gregg Bordowitz 
Benjamin Buchloh
Matthew Buckingham
Judith Butler

Jonathan Crary 
Douglas Crimp
Thomas Crow 
Rosalyn Deutsche
Mark Dion
Okwui Enwezor
Harun Farocki
Hal Foster
Andrea Fraser
Coco Fusco 

Jennifer González 
Isabelle Graw
Renée Green 
Hans Haacke 
Stuart Hall 
David Harvey
Sharon Hayes
Thomas Hirschhorn
Jenny Holzer

Chrissie Iles 
Alfredo Jaar 
Gareth James
Isaac Julien 
Mary Kelly 
Silvia Kolbowski 
Miwon Kwon 
Louise Lawler

Tom McDonough
Kobena Mercer 
Chantal Mouffe 
Laura Mulvey 
Mark Nash 
Molly Nesbit 
Christiane Paul 
Adrian Piper 
Yvonne Rainer 

Martha Rosler 
Andrew Ross 
Allan Sekula 
Gayatri Spivak 
Hito Steyerl
Anthony Vidler 
Fred Wilson 
Peter Wollen
Yes Men
Soyoung Yoon


All Applications Must Include:

  • A clear indication of which program (studio, critical, or curatorial) you are applying for
  • A résumé or C.V. including name, address, and telephone number (school and/or permanent)
  • School you are currently attending or have attended, degree program, and expected date of graduation (may be included in your C.V.)
  • Two letters of recommendation (may be sent under separate cover)
  • A statement discussing your work, educational experience, and intellectual interests (no more than 2 pages)
  • An application fee of $15 (make check or a Western Union money order payable to Whitney Museum of American Art)

Additional Application Information

Support for The Independent Study Program is provided by Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa, The Capital Group Charitable Foundation, the Whitney Contemporaries through their annual Art Party benefit, the Easton Foundation, the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Edward and Sally Van Lier Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Endowment support is provided by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, and George S. Harris.

The Independent Study Program is an equal opportunity education program. The Program does not discriminate because of age, sex, religion, race, color, national origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other factor prohibited by law.