New Student FAQ

I don’t really know what I want to do as an artist… is SIM for me?

While the SIM program is a great place for experimentation, it is not a great place for those that really have no idea what they are interested in yet. SIM works best for those that are self-motivated and already have ideas they want to express artistically.

Can I work in any media while a SIM major?

Yes, but since SIM students are not assigned their own studio space, if you are primarily a painter or sculpture, you may want to consider being a 3D or 2D major and taking any one of the many SIM electives to have an interdisciplinary experience. (*Note: this only applies to undergraduates. All students in the MFA program have studios spaces.)

I have lots of ideas for art-making but I don’t know how to make them happen. How will I get these skills as a SIM Major?

In SIM, all the majors meet in the Major Studio to share work, collaborate, participate in critique, and learn about production. Alongside the major studio, you are required to take a SIM elective (yeah, that’s right, a required elective, ahem). Each semester several electives are offered that explore topics like web art and digital distribution; video editing and production; interactive media and computer-controlled installations; dance techniques, composition and improvisation; performance art and spoken word; the interrelationship between art and science; stagecraft and  lighting; or sound performance, composition, recording, and editing. Within these electives you would learn and practice the skills you need to make your art.  Most of our electives focus on conceptual development, audio-visual and web technology, and performance. For this reason primarily graphic artists or sculptors often have a hard time finding their way unless they are open to new ways of expressing their ideas. Also, advising plays a large role in your SIM curriculum – it’s important to talk to the SIM faculty about your electives and let them help you make a effective choice.

Why can’t anyone easily explain SIM? What’s all the mystery about?

SIM is as diverse as the students that have gone through the program over the years. Because SIM artists work in an unlimited variety of media, with an unlimited breadth of ideas its almost impossible to categorize SIM into an easy explanation. But there are some tried and true priorities that have emerged since SIM was founded in 1969:

  • Ideas; SIM artists are encouraged to make their art starting from the idea and then finding the best media for expressing that idea. Community and Collaboration; these are key components of the SIM curriculum. If you a loner you probably won’t enjoy your time in SIM.
  • Critique; each week we look at work and talk about it. The artists are expected to learn how to manage the critique to their best interests and to articulate their artistic ideas. The audience is expected to be generous, honest, and clear. Public speaking is a high priority in SIM.
  • Live Events; SIM students make things happen. A lot. Eventworks is a SIM student run arts festival. The Godine Family gallery is a SIM student run exhibition space. The annual BIG SIM show is a student run and hugely attended student art show that includes performance, sound, video, animation, 2D and 3D and installation.
  • Innovation; SIM is where many new media and methods have been introduced to the MassArt community (computers, internet, video, electro-kinetics, digital audio art, conceptual art). It continues to be a place where students who are working in new technologies congregate.

What will I do with a degree in SIM?

Students that graduate from SIM are uniquely prepared for lives as self-motivated artists as well as professionals in many commercial and non-profit fields. SIM grads have started their own galleries, TV shows, and businesses; worked as non-linear film and sound editors in Hollywood, New York, and Boston (WGBH, ZOOM); as stage managers and crew for theaters internationally; as web developers for award-winning studios; as educators at Harvard, Stanford, Mills, Carnegie Mellon, and the New England Aquarium; and as practicing, exhibiting, and/or performing artists around the world.