phd-cover.jpgA book about the PhD degree in studio art, as it is practiced around the world.

The book's cover in the US edition. This is one of Jo-Anne Duggan's Impossible Gaze series of photographs made inside museums. Her PhD dissertation and artwork are sampled in the book. (Cover design by the editor, who got no credit for it.) 

The book's cover in the original Irish edition. This book is available through Printed Project in Ireland; Artists with PhDs is rewritten and expanded for the U.S. and Canadian contexts, where theses discussions are newer and less well formed.

Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art

First edition, 2009 / Second edition, under preparation for 2014

This book is intended as a comprehensive introduction to the subject, with chapters by a number of people who run such programs in Europe and elsewhere, and excerpts from studio art PhD dissertations. My own contributions are polemic -- not because I want to prevent the spread of such programs, but because I am wary of the administrative and theoretical discourse (really, jargon) that supports and justifies them in the U.K 

The book exists in two versions.

The first edition is available on Amazon. It has twelve essays and eight 3,000–word extracts from eight PhD dissertations done in Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, and London.

The second edition is in preparation, for publication in 2014. It will be twice as long. It'll include extracts from PhD dissertations in Japan, South Africa, and elsewhere; and it will have about 5 new chapters, new illustrations, and revisions of chapters in the first edition. It will also have the first listing of all PhD programs around the world.

I have been testing out ideas and sketches for the second edition on Facebook; you can follow the posts there, going back to about 2012. 

There is also a dedicated site, which has about 4 chapters of the new book. That site uses a special Wordpress plug-in that lets you post comments to individual paragraphs, not just pages as in most blogs. All comments and additions are welcome up to press time for the book! All contributors will be acknowledged and credited in the book. 

A painting by Ruth Waller, one of the artists whose dissertations are excerpted in the book. Waller is an example of how a contemporary practice can be informed by doctorate-level work. "As my research developed," she explains,  "I was fascinated to find myself immersed in the late medieval world-view," and she began to think about "how painters gave visual form to theology. While this naturally involved investigating the narratives depicted and the pictorial devices employed in relating these episodes, I was also led to consider how the late medieval painter might have thought about the nature of perception itself and the role of painting within this devotional cosmology." 

Sue Lovegrove's dissertation explores Aboriginal painting; it is part of the larger issue of PhDs that are in fields only tangentially related to the art student's practices. Lovegrove wrote: "My motivation and viewpoint throughout the research was as an artist rather than as a theorist, and what I hoped to do was understand how an Aboriginal woman might perceive the land around her and how she might perceive the pictorial space of the canvas. It was really an investigation in what determines Aboriginal aesthetics." The result is a new kind of practice, one that needs to be evaluated by both academic (in this case, anthropological) and artistic criteria.