• In conjunction with the current exhibition Patterns Bigger Than Any of Us: Jesse Fleming / Pat O'Neill in Ben Maltz Gallery, May 7 - August 12, 2017.

    In Conversation: Jesse Fleming and Pat O'Neill, moderated by LA-based idependent curator and historian Ciara Moloney


    Jesse Fleming (b. 1977) is part of an emerging group of artists and technologists that examine the convergence of media art and mindfulness. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Five Car Garage; 356 Mission; and Night Gallery, all in Los Angeles, CA; and the University of Texas in Austin, TX.

    Pat O’Neill’s (b. 1939) artistic and filmmaking career spans over 50 years, and he is highly-regarded for his experiments with film and optical printing. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA; Monitor in Rome, Italy; VeneKlasen/Werner in Berlin, Germany; Quinta do Quetzal in Vidigueira, Portugal; Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York, NY; and Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles, CA.

    Ciara Moloney is an independent curator, editor, and writer based in Los Angeles. She was formerly Curator of Exhibitions and Projects at Modern Art Oxford where she curated exhibitions by Barbara Kruger, Josh Kline, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Christian Boltanski and Kiki Kogelnik.

  • Amelia Gray is the author of the short story collections AM/PM, Museum of the Weird, and Gutshot, as well as the novels Threats and, most recently, Isadora, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, of FC2's Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. 

  • Luis J. Rodriguez was Los Angeles Poet Laureate from 2014-2016. The twenty-fifth edition of his first book, Poems Across the Pavement, won a 2015 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement. He has written fourteen other books of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction, including the best-selling memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. Rodriguez is also founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley. In 2016 Tia Chucha Press produced the largest anthology of L.A.-area poets, Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. Rodriguez’s last memoir It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. His latest poetry collection Borrowed Bones appeared in 2016 from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press.

  • Raised in Philadelphia, with roots in South Africa and Trinidad, Zinzi Clemmons’ writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Transition, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and support from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. She is co-founder and former Publisher of Apogee Journal, and a Contributing Editor to LitHub. She teaches literature and creative writing at the Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. Her debut novel, What We Lose, as well as a second title, are forthcoming from Viking.

  • Louise Sandhaus is a graphic designer and graphic design educator. She was previously Director of the Graphic Design Program at CalArts where she currently is faculty. Her recent book on California graphic design, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986, co-published by Metropolis Books and Thames & Hudson, has received laudatory reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian, Eye, and Creative Review. The book received the Palm d’Argent for best art book at FILAF (International Festival of Art Books and Films on Art).

  • Photo Credit: Jesse Pniak


    F. Douglas Brown received the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (selected by Tracy K. Smith) for Zero to Three, published by the University of Georgia. He also co-authored the chapbook Begotten with Geffrey Davis as part of Upper Rubber Boot Book's Floodgate Poetry Series. Both a past Cave Canem and Kundiman Fellow, his poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The Virginia Quarterly, Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. He is co-founder and curator of un::fade::able - The Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly reading series examining restorative justice through poetry as a means to address racism. Brown currently teaches English at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

  • Emily Raboteau’s nonfiction work Searching for Zion was named a best book of 2013 by the Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, and was a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award, grand prize winner of the New York Book Festival, and a winner of a 2014 American Book Award. She is the author of a novel, The Professor’s Daughter, and her fiction and essays have been published and anthologized in Best American Short Stories, the New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, Buzzfeed, LitHub, The Guardian, Guernica, Virginia Quarterly, The Believer, and Salon. Other honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and fellowships from the NEA, the Lannan Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony. Raboteau teaches creative writing at City College in New York.


Emphasis in Social Practice

Social Practice


Area Emphasis in Social Practice

As part of the MFA Fine Arts program, Otis College offers an area of emphasis focused on the field of Social Practice, the only program of its kind in a Southern California art school or university. Encompassing a range of practices and interdisciplinary media, participating students will experience both individual art production in the studio and to work in various community or public contexts. The core curriculum includes Graduate Studio and Critiques augmented by specialized courses in Collaborative Projects, Topics in Social Practice Art, and Public Realm Seminars.

The area of emphasis also features professional practice courses such as Field Methodologies and Field Internships, providing unique opportunities to work outside Otis College with well-known artists, activists, critics, and curators from around the world. 

Each student’s individualized learning plan includes electives in studio art courses, critical theory, and independent studies. Students can take classes in other graduate programs––Writing, Fine Arts, and Graphic Design––and in other departments across the College. The full range of Otis College shops, faculty, courses, and library is available for students' production.

Program alumni have worked with artists including Kim Abeles, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Suzanne Lacy, Rick Lowe, Mary Miss, and on projects organized with Creative Time, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Liverpool Biennial, Transforma at Prospect I, and the Venice Biennale.  

Faculty who provide rigorous one-on-one studio visits and group critiques include: Andrea Bowers, Patrisse Cullors, Dana Duff, Bill Kelley Jr., Janaya Khan, Karen Moss, Renée Petropoulos, Consuelo Velasco Montoya, Anuradha Vikram, Sue Bell Yank and Mario Ybarra Jr.  Recent guests and visitors include: Edgar Arceneaux, Nao Bustamante, Mel Chin, Sara Daleiden, Fallen Fruit, Future Farmers, Grupo Etcetera, Micol Hebron, Pablo Helguera, Dolores Huerta, Gronk, Fritz Haeg, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Olga Koumoundoros, L.A. Urban Rangers, Kori Newkirk, S.A. Bachman, Martha Rosler, Bonnie Sherk, Sally Tallant, Mierle Ukeles, and Stephen Wright.


Social Practice Area Emphasis Courses

Collaborative Projects (required)

A two-semester field-based collaborative project is undertaken with a partner organization or artists in Los Angeles or beyond. Topics include formation of community relationships, collaborative process, critique, and production. Students will work together with their instructor to determine a topic and location, do research, find partners, and design their project.

AHCS576 Special Topics in Art History (recommended for SPAE)

This two-semester course sequence focuses on the history of modern and contemporary art. Starting in the 1880s with the advent of Modernism, students in the first semester investigate the movements and artists active up to the late 1950s and Abstract Expressionism. The second semester starts in the 1960s with the development of Conceptualism and POP Art and proceeds to the present. Projects around the utilization of historic precedents are a part of this course.

Special Topics in Social Practice Art (required)

This two-semester course focuses on the production of art in the public sphere from the 1960s to the present, with an emphasis on contemporary social practice. The first class is a series of thematic lectures and discussion to provide an historical framework from public art in the 1960s to social practice in the 2000s.  The second semester, students will delve into more in-depth examination of recent case studies of social practice projects.

Public Realm Seminar

Study of theories related to public practice and critical writing in visual arts and closely related interdisciplinary topics including anthropology, civic policy, environmentalism, urbanism, etc. Specific topics will vary each semester. Coursework includes assigned readings, class discussions, and a written paper. This course may be repeated for credit or may be substituted as approved by the Chair.

Field Methodologies for Artists

Seminar on research and other career/professional methodologies for artists. This seminar will feature discussions, readings, presentations by visitors and field trips.

Field Internship

Students will select an internship with a professional artist working in social practice. This seminar provides an opportunity to reflect on learning and share with other students through presentations. Field internship credits above the required 2 units, up to a total of 10 units, may be taken as electives.

Social Practice Elective

These electives, related to either the practice and/or theory of social practice, will be developed by existing faculty, the new Social Practice Area Emphasis Head and visiting artists.


Otis College Ranked 6th in Nation by The Economist