It has been important to me over the years to work in a variety of capacities in the art world, to write and curate but also to collaborate with artists and curators as an exhibition organizer, dealer, and even editor.

I am happy that our curriculum presents curating as a multivalent pursuit encompassing many skills and much knowledge, quite a lot of it extremely practical.

In striving to offer aspiring curators a framework for research and investigation we introduce them to the history of the discipline and to its most important and interesting contemporary practitioners internationally, and we guide them through various strands of intellectual and artistic inquiry—from the legacy of Harald Szeeman to developments in media and time-based art.

In tandem with studying the theory and criticism of modern visual arts we expose students to practical exercises and assignments, through our partnerships with local institutions and collections, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, for example, which are based outside of the classroom.

On Curating Now

Founded in 2003 in recognition of the growing importance of the curatorial role in the field of culture, the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice initially aimed to impart an understanding and appreciation of this position. This year we have re-envisaged our program to focus more intentionally on the exhibition as a medium, and on the practices of contemporary artists.

The changes to the curriculum will allow us to delve further into theories of display, allowing us to respond critically to exhibition making in the field and to the ways in which curators today are working with artists and addressing the question what it means to curate contemporaneity.

Bay Area Location

Our location in San Francisco connects us to a tradition of artistic innovation at the same time as it facilitates exchanges with artistic communities on the West Coast, but also in Asia and Latin America. These advantages are manifested in our emphasis on artist-led and other experimental initiatives, as well as in our diverse and international student body and roster of visiting artists and curators.

On Collaborative Practice

Over the past twelve years we have successfully built networks and partnerships that enrich both the curriculum and our students’ postgraduate opportunities.  Through our internship program we connect students to opportunities to work with artists, collections, and institutions in a number of different ways.

The range of graduate programs at CCA, and our physical proximity to the graduate fine arts studios, offer many opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange. This year, for example, our first year students are sharing a studio in the graduate fine arts complex, literally embedding them in the community of emerging artists. We also privilege collective and collaborative forms of practice in the classroom, and in the structure of the thesis exhibition.

Through our faculty we have close relationships with institutions from SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to Berkeley Art Museum. These affiliations are complemented by multi-year commitments from international faculty through whom we extend our access to events and developments throughout the field.

It is our intention to collaborate with other curatorial programs as well: earlier this year we hosted an international symposium on the future of curatorial education, and we have to date completed faculty exchanges and projects with the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; the MA in Visual Arts Practices at the Institute of Art Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland; the MA in Curating Art at Stockholm University, Sweden; and the MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London.  

On Tomorrow’s Curators

It is our goal that students will emerge from the program with a balance of theoretical and art historical knowledge and practical experience, and a rigorously critical approach toward writing, thinking, and talking about art.

To date these skills have facilitated a range of career paths in the curatorial field. Graduates have gone on to pursue curatorial projects nationally and internationally, whether independently or in museums and galleries, and they are also well represented in public art agencies, commercial galleries and art publishing.

Our alumni are curators and directors of organizations from Aspen Art Museum to Kunstverein Munich, MoMA, NY, and the Studio Museum, Harlem.

They have established their own galleries and nonprofits in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Marfa, Texas; curated exhibitions in a range of venues from the Rooseum, Malmo, Sweden to Artists Space, New York, and are writing for such publications as Mousse, The Exhibitionist, Spike Magazine, Frieze and Artforum.

Not least they have been awarded curatorial residencies in Banff, Canada, and Turin, Italy, and curatorial fellowships at the Walker Art Center and the MCA, Chicago.

Their diverse experiences feed back into the program, and so we too continue to grow and become more tightly linked to the field and its future.



Faculty bio for Leigh Markopoulos