For Immediate Release




Eric Davis, Marketing & Communications Director

505.424.2351, or 

Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) 
Dr. Mario A. Caro
Director of MFA in Studio Arts Program

Santa Fe: December 23, 2020

In October of this year, The Higher Learning Commission, IAIA's accrediting organization, approved the school's application to launch an MFA Program in Studio Arts.  A founding director for the program has recently been hired.

Dr. Mario A. Caro (Colombian Mestizo) is a researcher, curator, and critic of art who has published widely on the history, theory, and criticism of contemporary Indigenous arts. He has taught graduate courses at Indiana University, New York University, and, most recently, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Art, Culture, and Technology Program.   

His work within the academy complements his sustained engagement with various Indigenous communities to promote the professional development of Native artists. In particular, his work with the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center has been devoted to furthering opportunities for artists to advance their practice. This work has included collaborating on the production of various publications as well as the curation of a wide spectrum of exhibitions.  

This work has also been international in scope. When the Longhouse began their engagement with Māori artists, Dr. Caro began to investigate further possibilities for global cultural exchanges between Native communities. He joined various boards of organizations focused on art residencies and eventually became the president of Res Artis, a nonprofit international network of residencies focused on promoting the worldwide mobility of artists.  

Dr. Caro commented: "I'm delighted and honored to join IAIA to contribute to the Institute's tremendous legacy of nurturing Native arts and cultures. The development of this unique program is part of IAIA's logical growth and fills a critical gap in graduate education - an MFA in Studio Arts, a terminal degree focusing on the Native art production."

Dr. Mario A. Caro

Although Studio Arts has been the primary focus of IAIA's Academic Programs for more than 50 years, the MFA IN Studio Arts Program is a recent addition to the academic offerings at IAIA.

The IAIA MFA in Studio Arts Program is a Low-Residency Program -- with two intensive on-campus residency periods per year (Summer and Winter) -- on the IAIA campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the end of each nine-day on-campus residency, students will be paired with a Master Artist Mentor with whom they will work one-on-one, virtually, during the following 16-week semester.

The mentorships are complemented by a series of online Art History courses as well as the intensive residencies offering artist lectures, professional workshops, exhibition and peer critique of work, and an opportunity to engage with a diverse community of artists. 

The two-year, low residency curriculum is grounded in Indigenous cultures and reflects the history and challenges of our time. The program provides a world-class contemporary arts education and empowers its students to give voice to the Indigenous experience through their art. IAIA's Graduate Studio Arts department is committed to graduating successful artists whose contributions will be recognized nationally and internationally within a global art context.

Student Working in the IAIA Ceramics Studio

Students can graduate with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio Arts with the following areas of emphasis: Integrated Practice, Studio Arts 2D Practice, and Studio Arts 3D Practice.
Many of the country's most illustrious contemporary American Indian artists, poets, writers, musicians, and cultural leaders are IAIA alumni, while others are affiliated with IAIA as faculty, staff, visiting artists, and scholars. Among these are Dan Namingha (Hopi/Tewa), Fritz Scholder (Luiseño), David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa), Doug Hyde (Nez Perce), Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache), Charles Loloma (Hopi), Otellie Loloma (Hopi), Earl Biss (Crow), T.C. Cannon (Kiowa/Caddo), Sheldon Peters Wolfchild (Lakota), Darren Vigil Gray (Jicarilla Apache/Kiowa Apache), Sherwin Bitsui (Diné), Rose Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Bill Prokopiof (Aleut), Kevin Red Star (Crow), Joy Harjo (Mvskoke Nation), Irvin Morris (Navajo Nation), Charlene Teters (Spokane), Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee), Tommy Orange (Cheyenne/Arapaho), and many more. 
Interim Academic Dean, Felipe J. Estudillo Colón, (Laguna Pueblo) commented: "We are thrilled and humbled to have Dr. Mario A. Caro join our academic team as the IAIA Studio Arts MFA program founding director. Dr. Caro not only brings a wealth of experience and expertise but also a boundless dedication to the perpetuation of Contemporary Indigenous Arts and Culture. As IAIA celebrates 60 years of unwavering commitment to contemporary indigenous art and culture, we look forward to the future and to the addition of Dr. Caro to the IAIA family."

To interview Dr. Caro, or Interim Dean Colón, please contact Eric Davis at 505.424.2351 or

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Offering undergraduate degrees in Studio Arts, Creative Writing, Cinematic Arts and Technology, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, and Performing Arts -- an MFA in Creative Writing
 and an MFA in Studio Arts 
-- along with certificates in Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History -- IAIA is the only college in the nation dedicated to the study of contemporary Native arts. The school serves approximately 500 full time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American college students from across the globe.  IAIA is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
About IAIA -- For over 50 years, the Institute of American Indian Arts has played a key role in the direction and shape of Native expression. With an internationally acclaimed college, museum, and tribal support resource through our Land-Grant Programs, IAIA is dedicated to the study and advancement of Native arts and cultures -- and committed to student achievement and the preservation and progress of their communities.  Learn more about IAIA and our mission at
The Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.  To make a donation on-line, please click here -- or call toll free: 1.800.804.6423.