The distinguished legacy of painting at SFAI informs the present and future of the medium.
The Painting department at SFAI has been at the forefront of many important historical developments, including Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Bay Area Figuration, the California Funk Movement and the street art-inspired projects of the Mission School. This pluralistic history informs the contemporary moment where all possibilities are valued, from traditional approaches on canvas to interdisciplinary painting practices. At SFAI, the ever-expanding definition of painting is affirmed by a philosophically diverse faculty enthusiastic about a wide range of approaches to material and conceptual solutions. Faculty challenge students to ask bold questions and to develop their own authentic approach to painting.
Throughout the SFAI Painting Department's history, it has been home to celebrated artists such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, Jay DeFeo, Fred Martin, Elmer Bischoff, David Park, David Simpson, Frank Lobdell, Roy De Forest, Joan Brown, Ronald Davis, William T. Wiley, Toba Khedoori, Barry McGee, Inez Storer and Kehinde Wiley among others and was central to movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Bay Area Figuration, Color Field, California Funk, and the Mission School.
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Fusing painting, sculpture, installation, and textiles, artist Kathy Sirico (MFA, 2017) examines environmentalism and consumption through a bodily perspective.
Alumni Alicia McCarthy and Scott Trattner discuss their individual paths since SFAI—McCarthy as a working artist (most recently awarded a 2017 SFMOMA SECA Award), and Trattner as executive creative director for Apple (creating iconic ads like “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC”) and currently for Facebook.
Alicia McCarthy (BFA in Painting, 1994) and Scott Trattner (BFA in Painting,1997).
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