MFA in Studio Art



Download a copy of the SACI MFA in Studio Art Brochure

SACI’s community of MFA students works in a creative environment of rigorous critical and technical inquiry utilizing the unique artistic and cultural resources of Florence, Italy to prepare students for careers as artists and college instructors.

At no additional cost, students go on multi-day field trips to European centers outside of Italy such as Berlin and London. Additional trips are made to the Venice Biennale (every other year) and to contemporary art fairs and major exhibitions in Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, and elsewhere in Italy.


Students live and work in the city that, during the Renaissance, revolutionized art and has since served as an inspiration and catalyst for generations of artists—from the Macchiaioli to the Futurists, from the Transavanguardia to contemporary artists such as Bill Viola and Damien Hirst.


Students specialize in Painting or Drawing and pursue a curriculum integrating practical and critical skills that encourages individual innovation, creative collaboration, mentorships, and instruction from SACI’s outstanding faculty. They benefit as well from interaction with members of SACI’s Artists Council and Friends of SACI, which include established artists, critics, theorists, curators, and publishers, many of international note.

MFA students at SACI work in their own individual studios in a fully renovated Renaissance palazzo in the heart of Florence. Students are just steps away from the great works that have drawn artists past and present to Florence to seek inspiration and develop their own pictorial language—from Arnold Böcklin to James Whistler and Mary Cassatt, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Beckmann to David Hockney.  In their graduate seminars, students explore a range of contemporary art practices, visit artists in their studios, and interview museum curators, art critics, and other significant figures in the art world.  Students travel to major art sites, attend international art fairs throughout Italy, and are encouraged, through individual practice and group critiques, to explore to the fullest their potential as creative artists.

MFA students attend SACI in Florence for two successive academic years and earn 60 credits.  During their first year, they put together a program that balances independent study with classroom study.  In their second year, emphasis is placed upon career options for emerging artists.  Students gain practical experience as SACI Teaching Assistants and their artwork is featured in major exhibitions in Florence.

See the 2015 MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog: Long Distance held at Le Murate Arte Contemporanea, and the 2016 MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog: U-turn held at Biagiotti Progetto Arte Gallery in Florence.

By exploiting fully the advantages available to emerging artists through advanced study in Florence, SACI MFA students can become highly competitive when seeking an artistic professional career and university level teaching positions. Throughout their lives, they will be able to realize work reflecting their unique experience and deep understanding of Italian art and the nature of the artist’s role in society.


Program Director

The Director of the MFA in Studio Art Program is Filipe Rocha da Silva, who received his doctorate in Visual Arts from the University of Evora in 2005, and an MFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute in 1984. For over a decade he has taught at the University of Évora in Portugal, where he has headed Visual Arts Research at the Centro de História da Arte e Investigação Artística. His paintings, drawings, and prints have received worldwide recognition. Filipe has had one-person exhibitions in Lisbon, Porto, Palma de Maiorca, Rabat, Paris, New York City, and Florence and participated in group exhibitions in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Germany, Monaco, China, and the USA. His artworks are in major museums and government collections in Portugal and Spain, and articles on his work have been published in a number of Portuguese and Spanish periodicals. His essays on art have appeared in newspapers, journals, and books in both Europe and the USA. He has studied and taught in Florence, is fluent in Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and is an expert on the connections between historical Italian art and contemporary artmaking throughout the world.

Graduate Seminar Instructors

Daria FilardoThe MFA Graduate Seminar in Studio Art: Contemporary Practices I and II and MFA Graduate Seminar in Studio Art: Professional Practicum I and II (with Pietro Gaglianò) are taught by Daria Filardo. Daria graduated with Honors in Contemporary Art History from the University of Florence and completed a Post-Graduate Specialization in History of Art at the University of Pisa. From 1998-2000 she worked as a resident curator at the Palazzo delle Papesse Contemporary Art Center in Siena. A freelance curator since 2001, her recent projects include co-curating last year’s celebrated Arte torna arte exhibition at Florence’s renowned Accademia Gallery as well as working as sole or co-curator of major contemporary art exhibitions at other art sites in Florence and in Genoa, Milan, and Prato. Her essays have appeared in publications such as Flash Art, Arte e Critica, and Rosso Fiorentino and in catalogues focusing on the artwork of many Italian artists.
Pietro Gaglianò team-teaches the MFA Graduate Seminar in Studio Art: Professional Practicum I and II with Daria Filardo. He graduated magna cum laude in Architecture from the University of Florence in 2003 and specializes in the analysis of contemporary visual culture.  Author of Memento: The Obsession with the Visible (2016), he is a writer, art critic, and the curator of numerous exhibitions in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. 
See the ADMISSIONS section of this website to find out more about How to Apply, Application Deadlines, Scholarship Information, Dates & Fees, Federal Aid, and more.

Click on the PLAY buttons below to view videos with artists and SACI MFA students talking about SACI's MFA Degree in Studio Art.

MFA Europe | SACI Studio Art Centers International Florence