Summer in Marfa, TX

Prada, Marfa (Photo courtesy of Lizette Kapre, Ballroom Marfa, and the Art Production Fund)

The following course was held in summer 2013. Complete information for Summer Study Abroad 2014 will be posted (dates, descriptions, pricing) by December 20, 2014.

This three-week fieldwork studio in Marfa, Texas, seeks to expand contemporary discourses on social practices and politics in art. It offers a unique opportunity for students to gain an understanding of the dynamics of art in public spaces and its impact on communities.

Marfa Fieldwork Project

Instructor: Shaun O’Dell
May 20-June 10, 2013

Information Session

Wednesday, March 6, 3:15–3:45 p.m.
San Francisco campus, GC7

Interested students should contact the instructor, Shaun O'Dell, to start the approval process for registration.

The small town of Marfa has been transformed by the legacy of Donald Judd, making it one of the most vibrant art hubs in the U.S.: a place where the artworld meets, galleries emerge, and a cultural industry has arisen. As the home of the Judd and Chinati Foundation collections, as well as Judd’s studio and library, Marfa provides fertile ground for research. Installed in a former military fort, the works by Donald Judd and his contemporaries are inextricably linked with the surrounding landscape. Some of Judd's largest outdoor works were designed for, and installed at, these specific sites.

Combining students from CCA, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and the Dutch Art Institute through the organization of TAAK, this studio allows students to collaborate in the research, development, and execution of a project, guided by an instructor from each college, guest artists, and the curator of TAAK, Theo Tegelaers. By examining the transformation of Marfa, students engage in a critical analysis of the value and use of public art. They also engage with the term “fieldwork” literally as in “working in the field,” as well as anthropologically as a “method” that uses firsthand observation and documentation for future development.

Students camp in provided tents around a central trailer which functions as a studio lab. In the first week, local field trips acquaint students with the specifics of the Marfa region: the desert, community, cultural identity, social structure, history, etc. Trips include Big Bend National Park, the cave drawings at Hueco Tanks, and, potentially, Judd's ranches. In the second week, participants work in groups to present research results from these field trips, form project ideas, experiment, and shape their process. The final week is spent realizing the project.


Undergraduates: completion of sophomore level by summer 2013 and instructor approval
Graduates: instructor approval

In addition students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2012-13 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates, this course satisfies a studio elective, Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio, or Interdisciplinary Critique.

For graduates, this course satisfies a gradwide elective, Fine Arts seminar, or Social Practice.

Program Fee

$4,450 + $50 registration fee

Program fee includes
3 units, tent accommodations, entrance fees, ground transportation from El Paso airport to and from Marfa, Texas, ground transportation while at Marfa

Program fee does not include
Transportation to and from El Paso, meals, travel insurance


  • Travel insurance is not included in the program fee. Participants are encouraged to purchase travel insurance on their own.
  • A housing upgrade to a trailer may be possible at student's own expense. Please let us know, when you register, if you wish us to research this option for you. Also, in the event that a student extends their stay on either side of the course, they are responsible for arranging and paying for their own round trip ground transportation between El Paso Airport and Marfa.

Please make sure you read the related pages in their entirety:

Financial Aid
Code of Conduct

In-person registration begins on Friday, March 1, for all Summer Study Abroad and Off-Campus courses (New Mexico, New York, and Texas). Students should register no later than Monday, March 25. If spots are available in the course after this date, students may still register as long as accommodations have not been finalized.

Interested students should contact Shaun O’Dell to start the approval process for registration.

All CCA Summer Study Abroad courses (including the New Mexico, New York, and Texas Studios) are coordinated by the Office of Special Programs.


Office of Special Programs
Oakland campus, Ralls 201

Nina Sadek
Dean of Special Programs

Carol Pitts
Operations Manager, Special Programs