CORONA — Forget Manhattan, Queens is state of the art.
Creative types with an eye for great art and social change can hone their skills in a Queens-oriented master's program that looks to combine both without the "elitist art scene" of the borough across the bridge.
While the college’s Flushing location may seem removed from the city's core art scene, professor Maureen Connor said that's the point.
“New York is — who can be in Manhattan anymore for one thing?” asked Connor, who lives in Manhattan. “New York is so gentrified here.
“We're not interested in being engaged with the elitist art world. This is really about something else.”
The program’s goal is to combine art with classes in urban studies, public policy and social theory, in order to address social issues with art.
The mix of classes will help the artists address real-life issues within the borough, according to Connor.
The art department at Queens College was first approached by the Queens Museum in 2010. It became a fully accredited program two years later, with four students enrolling that spring.
“Since we're a university and not an art school, there was opportunity for trans-disciplinary with the museum and the college,” Connor said.
The current students have met with community members and created art projects including a “Worker’s Pavilion” — a center for union and non-union workers to meet and discuss labor issues— inside Corona Plaza.
Students will be able to engage with fellow artists at the redesigned Queens Museum, which officially opens on Nov. 9 and will feature studio space for the program’s students.
The program is similar to other social practice degrees at the California College of the Arts and Portland State University — but since it's part of the City University of New York system it's more affordable, Connor said.
The cost of an MFA at Queens College is about $5,000 a semester.
The program isn't limited to what kind of change an artist wants to inspire. Rather, it encourages all students to find something they're passionate about, she said.
Artists have a power to utilize creativity to inspire a lot of things, Connor said — even social change.
"Why shouldn't we make an effort to change the dynamic on some of the biggest issues facing the city right now?" she said.
"Who else will do it?"