The Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University has launched a unique, low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Image Text. The program brings together text and image which, according to founding faculty directors Nicholas Muellner and Catherine Taylor, creates new possibilities for creative practice and dialogue at the intersection of visual media and the literary arts.
"In the fluid landscape created by digital media platforms and the explosion of small press publishing, it seems only logical that questions of aesthetics, narrative, documentary testimony, and fictional invention be addressed within the language-and-image world we already inhabit," said Muellner (primarily a photographer) and Taylor (primarily a writer), who both join the art department as codirectors of the new program.
Muellner and Taylor's idea for the Image Text Ithaca (ITI) initiative began in 2014 at Ithaca College as a series of artist workshops that brought together artists and scholars working at the intersection of visual media and creative writing, with notable participants such as Lucas Blalock, Bruno Ceschel, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Jason Fulford, John Keene, and Claudia Rankine. The initiative grew to include an M.F.A. in Image Text and the ITI Press. When Ithaca College phased out the Image Text M.F.A. in 2021, conversations to establish a comparable program at Cornell were initiated by former Art Department Chair Michael Ashkin who, as a former visiting artist with ITI, saw the value in offering alternatives to conventional creative practice and exhibition to art students. The recent launch is made possible by a generous seed fund gift from alums Deborah Goodman Davis '85 and Gerald Davis (B.Arch. '84) who have been longtime supporters of the college and the arts at Cornell.