Confluence MFA

Interdisciplinary • Accessible • Regenerative

Next Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

The Low-Residency Concentration in Interdisciplinary Art is a curriculum dedicated to regenerative culture.

The concentration’s field-based residencies provide hands-on learning experiences that support a range of art practices including art and ecology, film and video, sculpture, printmaking, painting, traditional crafts and experimental art forms.

Throughout the curriculum, students take eighteen classes in person during the two field residencies a year. Two courses are completely online. Between residencies students meet virtually with their artists’ cohort and their faculty to exchange feedback, deepen their critical awareness of contemporary art practices, and synthesize what they have learned during the in-person residencies.

Residency sites include: New York City, The Hudson River Valley in New York State, Minneapolis, Oakland, The Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, and South Florida – as well as Oaxaca, Mexico and Mexico City.

Core faculty include Christy Gast, Camila Marambio, Mary Mattingly, Edward Morris, Carol Padberg and Caroline Woolard. Regular contributors include Houston Cypress, Mark Dion, Hope Ginsburg, Jaimey Hamilton Faris, Muriel Hasbun, Billie Lee, Pedro Lasch, Sara Reisman, Roxanne Swentzell, Ricky Tucker, and Linda Weintraub.

Preferred Deadline: January 15

More Information:

Carol Padberg
Program Coordinator

Why apply to the Confluence Concentration?

We are a full-time interdisciplinary MFA that allows students to work from home anywhere in the world, while attending the University of New Mexico. Our field-based residencies in June and January give artists opportunities to learn through an immersive, progressive pedagogy. Most of the credits are completed during residencies. Artists benefit from creating their graduate committee of studies with University of New Mexico faculty members, while also studying with visiting faculty from residency locations. Alumni leave the program with an international network of peers, a revitalized art practice that is informed by regenerative practices, and dynamic relationships with like-minded artists.

What if you could study in a living classroom, co-learning with artists, scientists, healers, farmers, activists and craftspeople?

The Confluence MFA field-based curriculum meets twice a year at sites in the Americas including New Mexico, Miami, Minnesota, Oaxaca and El Salvador. The Earth is our college, and bogs, rivers, desert mesas, city halls, cloud forests and water treatment plants have all served as our classrooms. These sites provide an expanded toolkit of experiences and know-how that allow artists to push their own boundaries.

What if your graduate school classes were shaped by traditional ecological knowledge?

The Confluence series of courses is shaped by holistic ecological knowledge systems, and effective arts-based research strategies. This series of courses help artists become ever more adaptive. Whether it is collaborating with people from other fields, understanding how cultural histories impact present projects, or creating entirely different models of human and more-than-human exchange, evolution is at the core of this curriculum.

What if your graduate community was committed to liberation and healing?

We aspire to actively unlearn the old culture of education. We work to disrupt systems of colonialism, white-supremacy, classism, misogyny, and heteronormativity. Using trauma-informed pedagogies, we start where we are, and build towards a world that better supports life.

Our world needs the leadership, creativity, and understanding of complexity that artists possess now more than ever. This regenerative education takes place in an expanded educational field and centers justice and kinship.

Student outcomes include the development of a comprehensive art practice and the refinement of practical skills such as how to run budgets, find material resources, write clearly, and exercise entrepreneurial skills. In addition, artists develop a keen awareness of the artistic and cultural context of their work. Each person leaves the curriculum with a network of peers and mentors from the program and the sites that make up our living classroom.


Carol Padberg

Carol Padberg

Professor of Practice

Carol Padberg is an interdisciplinary artist, and the founding director of the Nomad MFA. Her art has been the subject of exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, and the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Mary Mattingly

Mary Mattingly

Professor of Practice

Mary Mattingly is an interdisciplinary artist who co-creates sculptural ecosystems that address forms of public food and commons in New York City.

Learn More About Confluence Low-Residency MFA


Introduction to the Confluence Concentration Webinar

Watch on Youtube

Alumni In The News

For more updates Follow Us On Instagram

Alumni Rory Sparks, co-lead of Stelo Arts, is teaching at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland Oregon, and releasing her first typeface soon! These are some photos of Rory’s letterpress prints of Jesse’s last poems called Aphorisms made for the exhibition, Jesse Murray: Rising, at Reed College as a part of Portland’s biennial, Converge 45

Jess Porzuczek was recently named Assistant Professor of Visual Arts and Program Coordinator at Quinebaug Valley Community College

sTo Len is currently serving as the New York City Department of Sanitation Artist in Residence. Learn more

Zahar Al Dabbagh has been hired as the Assistant Director of Educational Operations at the Museum of the City of New York, Education Center

Fatric Bewong exhibited new works from her studio in Ghana at the Amsterdam Museum in the Netherlands.

Alumni Artist-In-Residence:
Zahar Al-Dabbagh is Confluence’s current Alumni Artist-in-Residency

The alumni artist-in-residence position at Confluence is a hybrid residency that offers artists an opportunity to work on and share their projects while also contributing to the behind-the-scenes development of Confluence. The 1-year AIR hybrid helps the artist to produce a digital book about their work, which will also be housed in the UNM Libraries Confluence archive. The alumni artist-in-residence is an opportunity for artists to make contributions to the future of the Confluence Low-Res MFA, and for Confluence to simultaneously support their work.

Application Instructions

The following information is provided to help the prospective student successfully apply for admission to the Art Studio graduate program at the University of New Mexico. Although Graduate Studies strives to keep this information up-to-date, we still encourage you to visit the program’s website to verify application instructions and required materials.

International students generally must complete additional steps to apply to a graduate program at UNM. Please see the Global Education Office’s International Admissions website for more information.