Pre-College Program

Build Your Portfolio | Earn College Credit | Make Art!

Shape your own artistic direction by exploring a wide range of media during this comprehensive, four-week summer program. Explore drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, video, digital photography, and design in college-level classes. Then, armed with skills in numerous disciplines, work on your ideas in your own studio space. Our interdisciplinary and concept-based approach to artmaking reflects SMFA’s unique vision.

The core curriculum encompasses foundational skills, historic and contemporary practices, experimentation, and critical thinking skills. The program also includes presentations by visiting artists and one-on-one mentoring to help you develop your art projects, build a portfolio, explore career paths, and prepare for the college application process.

Program Dates: July 10–August 5, 2016

Please contact Debra Samdperil or Daniel Embree at or 617-369-3643 for further information about our 2016 Pre-college Program.

2D Studio: Painting and Drawing
This course presents the fundamentals of painting and drawing: line, form, value, color, texture, perspective, and composition. Students will use these foundational skills in a variety of contemporary applications ranging from works on canvas to graphic novels. Students will learn to create and evaluate art with formal and conceptual considerations, develop a visual vocabulary, and think critically. Separate painting and drawing faculty each encourage individual experimentation and creativity. In addition to focused studio time to complete student-driven assignments, 2D Studio includes demonstrations on material and technique, artist slideshows, group discussions, and critiques.

3D Studio: Sculpture and Installation
The three-dimensional curriculum introduces ways to create form and meaning through materials. Explore the relationship between viewer and object using contemporary sculpture methods, such as altering found objects and light construction techniques. Activate space through installation, which is the creation of art environments. In both individual and collaborative projects, students will learn new ways of generating material for any medium. This course presents an opportunity to truly embrace the interdisciplinary methodology of the program.

Digital Media: Photography and Graphic Arts
In Digital Media, students will learn ways to use digital tools to create, publish, and distribute their ideas. We will examine the images that constantly surround us in the world. In photography classes, you will use digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop to create and edit photographs. Through presentations of innovative artists, we will discuss the issues facing contemporary photographers in the information age. In Graphic Arts classes, you will learn how to use Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to generate and arrange text and image. Students will look at the layout of advertisements, concert posters, and even internet memes to learn how these visual messages are designed and spread through mass culture. Work closely with your instructor to print your work in our production lab or share it online.

Moving Image: Video and Animation
Explore time-based media during this course, offered in our state-of-the-art technology lab. Expert guidance will help you learn how to use digital video cameras and sound recording instruments. Discover the basic principles of moving picture frames by learning how to create simple animations. See how images transform and morph using software such as After Effects, Premiere Pro, QuickTime Pro and FinalCut Pro. Lessons are presented in a manner that expose the similarities in each program's interface and encourage students to use hardware and software as tools for their own design and creativity. Students will work as a team to create video projects that will be screened during the final exhibition.

Advanced Projects
Students will have an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned in 2D Studio, 3D Studio, Digital Media, and Moving Image by choosing three areas for focused exploration. In a series of intensive workshops, students will propose and implement their own individual or group projects. Graduate mentors will advise students to help them develop their ideas and proposals. Work closely with faculty in each area to acquire the skills you need to successfully complete each project. Advanced Projects will leave you with three highly developed works to show in our final exhibition and to strengthen your portfolio.

Studio Space
All pre-college students have access to a personal studio space, a valuable and unique feature of our program. Use your space to work on class projects, create independent work, get feedback from faculty and mentors, and showcase your art throughout the program. Individual studios are grouped together to create a strong sense of community, so you can make great art and life-long friends.

Professional artists and teachers will instruct you in studio work and lead discussions about the artmaking process. Our unusually low student to faculty ratio ensures that you will get the attention you need as you develop your portfolio. You will also be matched with a graduate student mentor from our Master of Fine Arts program who, during regular meetings, will help you to further cultivate your individual vision. In addition, accomplished visiting artists engage with students through weekly presentations and studio visits.

Visiting Artists and Contemporary Art Practices: Linking Past with Present
As core to our daily pre-college curriculum, students will explore images, artists, historical and contemporary practices through lecture, research and collaborative projects. Visiting artists present their work and workshop with students. Recent visiting artists include Mary Ellen Strom, Leon Johnson, Gerry Bergstein, Andi Sutton, Jim Dow, Chantal Zakari, Ahmed Abdalla, Matthew Nash, and Hannah Barrett.​

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
In addition to unlimited access to the MFA's permanent collections, you will also enjoy presentations by Museum professionals working in conservation and exhibitions, as well as behind-the scenes tours of special collections.

Portfolio Development
Whether or not you are looking to apply to art school, you will gain the early professional skills necessary build a body of work and to document that work for presentation for your portfolio. Our admissions staff provides optional one-on-one review sessions. We also provide further resources on the college application process, career paths in the arts and hands-on opportunities to test your skills in putting together the final exhibition.

Town Meeting
Each week the entire Summer Studio community comes together: all students, faculty, teaching and resident assistants, graduate mentors and program staff. These sessions provide a space for students, staff and faculty to step out of their current roles and deepen their sense of an artists' collective. Whether the time is used for showing faculty work, playing dodge-ball or participating in a drawing competition, it is an essential part of the week.

Final Exhibition
Pre-College Summer Studio culminates in a final exhibition of student work.

Our program gives you an opportunity to completely immerse yourself in an artists' community. Intensive classes culminate in a final few days that are dedicated solely to the installation of a professional final exhibition. Faculty and staff work with you individually as the entire community comes together to produce a show of 200+ works. Skills in curating, marketing and installation are built as you develop your portfolio and deepen your sense of community. This program awards college credits upon successful completion.

Most Pre-College Summer Studio students live on campus, while some local students commute from their homes.

Living on Campus
The strong sense of community that develops between students, faculty and staff is one of the things that makes makes the Summer Studio Program at SMFA unique. That spirit of creativity and collaboration continues in the residence hall at the end of each day and during the weekends. A team of Resident Assistants and a Resident Coordinator live with students. Independent studio time, museum and gallery fieldtrips, thrift store visits, and the occasional venture to the beach or to parks provide an enriching experience for students outside of the classroom.

Residents are encouraged both to participate in additional programming provided outside of class time, and to independently explore Boston in groups of three or more. All students must communicate with a Resident Assistant regarding their comings and goings outside of class time.

Pre-College Summer Studio residents live at the Tree House Residence Hall at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, which houses students in a suite-style layout. Each suite is single sexed. Bedrooms have two beds and share a bathroom with one other bedroom. Rooms are fully furnished with a bed, dresser, desk, bookcase, and set of linens. Bed sheets, one pillow, a light blanket, a towel, and a washcloth are included in the linen set. All utilities, air conditioning, wireless internet access, and cable TV connection are also included.

Public areas include workrooms, a first floor Café/lounge, and a lobby with 24 hour security. The third floor is called the "Pajama Floor" and hosts many community building activities. This floor also includes a game room/TV Lounge, group study room, laundry room, a fitness room, a vending area and a community kitchen.

SMFA provides a Residence Hall Coordinator and Resident Advisors that live on location and provide support for the Pre-College residents.

Cafe des Arts, located in SMFA's central atrium, provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. For residents, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the program cost. For commuters, weekday lunches are provided but other meals and snacks may be purchased using cash. Snacks may be purchased with cash anytime during regular Café hours, which will be posted.

Vegan and vegetarian options are available at every meal. If you have additional dietary restrictions, please notify the Project Coordinator before May 15, 2015.

Commuter Students
Local participants who choose not to stay on campus may enroll in the program as commuters. Commuters are required to attend all class sessions, Monday through Friday, as well as gallery, studio, and museum visits and artist talks. Studio space is available for commuters to work in during the evenings and weekends. While on campus, commuters must follow the same rules and guidelines as residential students, including check-in and checkout procedures. Fostering community involvement, we encourage commuters to participate as much as possible in activities outside of class time alongside the residential students.

Boston, the Extended Classroom
Home to more than 60 colleges and universities and 56 museums, Boston is a great place to live, study and play.

As cosmopolitan as it is small and accessible, Boston comes alive in June and July. Its diverse and urban environment provides an exciting atmosphere in which to engage with the local art and culture scene. Whether you're exploring the city's storied neighborhoods, such as the Back Bay or the North End, enjoying a street performance in Harvard Square, eating Brazilian food along the Charles River or listening to a youth poetry slam at a local coffee shop, Boston's true character lies in its off-beat cultural attractions.

Evening and Weekends
Students will participate in organized outings that complement the program. Sample outings include gallery openings, Jim Dow's off-beat city tour of Boston, performance events, film screenings, thrift store shopping and daytrips to nearby Singing Beach, Old Salem and the Institute for Contemporary Art. You will also have free time to relax and enjoy your studio!

A Sample Day in the Life of a Pre-College Student

NOTE: Commuters begin their day at 9:00 am. Lunch is included, and commuters are encouraged to participate in evening activities if they wish!

8:00 am    Residence Hall
Wake up in the brand new suite-style dorms at the Tree House Residence Hall to a view of the Boston skyline. Snap a quick picture you might use in a digital collage later.

8:30 am    Breakfast
Enjoy a hot, homemade breakfast with your roommates at the campus Cafe des Arts. Make sure you have plenty of energy to get you through the day!

9:00 am    2D Studio Class
Stop by your personal studio space to grab some painting supplies to use during 2D Studio over in the B wing. With only 12 students in your class, you'll get plenty of one-on-one time with faculty.

10:30 am    Moving Image Class
Head over to our state-of-the-art video lab to work on a collaborative animation project with fellow students in Moving Image. Watch what you've created so far projected on the big screen and get some helpful feedback from the Teaching Assistant.

12:00 pm    Cafe des Arts
Soak up some sun and eat lunch outside around the giant rhino sculpture with new friends. Then get back to your studio where a few other students and faculty are having a spontaneous group critique.

1:00 pm    Digital Media Class
Hurry back to the D-lab for Digital Media to sharpen your Photoshop skills with the photos you took during last weekend’s excursion to historic Salem, Massachusetts. Print your final design in our Advanced Production Lab.

2:30 pm    3D Studio Class
Scavenge the scrap wood pile for raw materials to use in 3D Studio. You can team up with a partner to build a structure for an art installation.

4:00 pm    Mentor Meeting
Wander through the Linde Family Contemporary wing of the Museum of Fine Arts with your Graduate Mentor discussing your ideas for Advanced Projects and how they might enhance your portfolio.

5:30 pm    Dinner and Free Time
After dinner, hunker down in your studio or grab a buddy or two and explore one of Boston's many exciting neighborhoods with a sketchbook or camera.

9:00 pm    Residence Hall
Finish the night with a movie party in the dorms before resting up for tomorrow's field trip to Boston Harbor to see the Aquarium and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

One of SMFA's strongest assets is its faculty of professional artists and educators who bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. Our faculty will encourage you to push your limits and engage with your work on a different level, while helping you develop an ongoing dialogue with materials, content and process that will continue long after you have finished the Pre-College Summer Studio program. You will leave the program with life-long relationships with SMFA and the students, faculty and staff that you've engaged with here.


Andrea Sherrill Evans (2D Studio: Painting) uses slow and detailed processes of making, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and performance, as a means to examine the subtleties of the human relationship to the natural world. Evans received her BFA in Painting from Arizona State University (2004), and MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University (2009). She is a recipient of a 2012 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship and St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and her work has been exhibited throughout the United States. In addition to her independent studio practice, Evans is a member of the New Craft Artists in Action (NCAA), a fiber collective dedicated to creating handmade basketball nets for empty hoops in public spaces. She is also founder and co-editor of Temporary Land Bridge, a website focused on art practice. Currently, Evans is a visiting lecturer in the Studio Foundation program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Roxbury Community College.

Raul Gonzalez III (2D Studio: Drawing) was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up going back and forth between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, México. In 2009 Gonzalez received an award from the Artadia Foundation for Art and Culture. He was voted Boston’s best visual artist for 2010 by readers of The Boston Phoenix. His work has been exhibited widely in the northeast including a solo museum exhibition at the New Hampshire Museum of Art, Fitchburg Art museum and exhibitions at the Aidekman Gallery at Tufts University in Medford, MA and The Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, Ogunquit Museum of American Art as well as on the west coast at SCION Installation, San Francisco Art Institute and Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles. Gonzalez is committed to introducing youth to the visual arts and has taught in the education departments of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2011 Gonzalez collaborated with over 125 kids from all over the city of Boston to create a work titled “and their Families” for the Linde Family Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His first graphic novel, Lowriders in Space written by Cathy Camper and published by Chronicle Books was voted one of the best childrens books of 2014 by Kirkus reviews. Raul Gonzalez lives in Medford, MA, with Elaine Bay and their son Raúl the Fourth. He is represented by Carroll and Sons, Boston and the Andrea Brown Literary agency.

Garett Yahn (3D Studio) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines the territory shared by artist and artisan and the nature of cultural production outside of the city center. Often collaborative, his work provides a platform for sociability as it is concerned with the potential for artwork to explore the principles of relationships. Recently Garett has exhibited and performed at Infr'action 2010 in Sete, France, Mobius and Proof Galleries in Boston, MA and Steven F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. Garett holds an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and bachelor's degrees in Art Education and Studio Art from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. He currently lives and works in Boston.

Tom Macintyre (Digital Media: Photography) received a BFA from Metropolitan State College of Denver ('00) and a MFA from the Museum School/Tufts University ('03), where he was a graduate teaching fellow. He has exhibited at the Museum School's BAG Gallery and participated in the exhibitions "Le Flaneur," Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, and "Life Was Different Then," at the Tufts University Gallery/Aidekman Arts Center at Tufts University, Medford, MA. MacIntyre served as a project leader at Boston Inspires Public Art and Denver Housing Authority's Art Builds Communities and has taught Photography and the Computer at Tufts for the last three years. He currently teaches photography at Newton North High School in Newton, MA.

Alaina Montuori (Digital Media: Graphic Arts) is an artist and certified educator who lives and works in Greater Boston, MA. Alaina graduated from SMFA/Tufts with an MFA in May 2012. As an artist, Alaina's work has taken shape in a variety of media - painting, installation, video, performance, animation, and illustration. Conceptually, her work often draws inspiration from popular culture, design aesthetics, and audience interaction/community engagement. Most recently, Alaina has channelled her interdisciplinary skill and creative philosophy into a design business that focuses on installation, illustration, and calligraphic arts.

Stephen St. Francis Decky (Moving Image) is a multi-media artist whose paintings, animations, and videos have appeared in galleries, festivals, and collections both nationally and internationally. He has taught Video Art and Animation classes and workshops for several years, and has also worked as a consultant for multi-channel video installations in galleries in New York City and Boston. He received his MFA from the Museum School/Tufts University in 2013.


Ria Brodell is an artist based in Boston whose current body of work addresses issues of gender, sexuality and identity. Brodell attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, received a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle ('02) and an MFA from the Museum School/Tufts University ('06). Brodell was recently awarded an Artadia Award ('14), an MCC Fellowship in Drawing ('14), an SMFA Traveling Fellowship ('13), and an Artist’s Resource trust Grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in support of their current series, Butch Heroes ('12). Brodell has had solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. including: Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles ('10); Judi Rotenberg, Boston ('09); Swarm Gallery, Oakland ('08); Aqua Art, Miami ('08); DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA ('07) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ('05). Brodell’s work has appeared in ARTNews, The Boston Globe, Beautiful Decay, New American Paintings, Art New England, ArtSlant: San Francisco, Daily Serving, The Phoenix and Boston Magazine.

Marlon Forrester (painting) received a BFA from the School of The Museum of Fine Arts Boston/Tufts University ('08) and Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Art ('10). His work has been included in exhibitions in the United States and in Boston at Violence Transformed ('12), National Center For African American Artist ('12); Hallspace Gallery ('12); Bunker Hill Community College ('13), Samson Projects ('11). Forrester's work explores the corporate use of the black male body in sports (basketball), his paintings, mixed media works, sculptures, installations and video are mediations on exploitation and fear of the black male figure in America. He teaches in Boston Public Schools, and has led workshops at various colleges, universities and high schools. His works are in corporate and private collections.