Marathon set-ups

The School's internationally-recognized Marathon programs were developed in 1988 by Dean Graham Nickson, initially as a measure for the rest of the semester at the start of the program year. The program has since expanded to become a core component of the School's curriculum. Meanwhile, intense outside interest led to the extension of the Marathons to a wider audience of participants outside of the full-time student body. Renowned artists, art historians, dealers, collectors,  art educators, writers, journalists and students of all levels and affiliations have since experienced the intensity of the program.

The Marathon course hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm, with a lunch break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. In some Marathons, there may be critiques. The specific critique schedule will be determined once courses have commenced.



Originally designed to address the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience in the world, the Marathons are based in an exploration of this most direct route to an enriched understanding of the language of the plastic arts. The innovation inherent in the Marathon program reawakens the way that drawing is experienced by artists and appreciators alike.

The Marathons are intensive, all-day programs that run for two weeks at the beginning of each semester and during the Summer Session. Drawing, Painting and Sculpture marathons are offered, both by full-time faculty and distinguished visiting artists, who are present for the entire session. All programs operate along the same basic model of immersing the student in their chosen discipline.

The level of commitment reached by participants during the Marathon is extraordinary. Each individual must confront the problems of drawing, painting and sculpture with vigor and intensity if they are are to show that they are equal to the fierce demands of concentration and stamina necessary for the program. Not only are participants fully engaged in the physical aspects of making art, they are also intellectually challenged and stimulated by extensive group and individual critiques. The strong and surprising works made often work as catalysts for future work.

Marathons are open to beginning and advanced artists, regardless of their affiliation. Admission follows the same requirements and procedures as for the full-time program. Fees for the ten-day course must be paid in full upon registration.



(Please click on each Marathon heading, for a pdf with Full description, including Materials list)

Week 1:  Monday, January 12 > Friday, January 16  

Week 2:  Tuesday, January 20 > Saturday, January 24

New York Studio School closed for Martin Luther King Day:  Monday January 19

Drawing Marathon: Graham Nickson & Guests, January 12-24, 2015

In this Marathon, students learn the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one's experience of the world. Drawing is seen here as the most direct route to the examination of our perceptions. Unorthodox tools and exercises will be introduced to broaden the student's drawing vocabulary.

This course will investigate many implications of drawing as a physical and cerebral activity as well as drawing as a philosophy.  It will discuss key issues, including those of scale, tiny to huge; the use of different formats; the use of the rectangle; the vertical axis and its significance; the nature of distortions; the compression of space and depth; the search for 'form' and its consequences; space and its meaning, functions and the different kinds of space; and the nature of relational drawing.

We will approach the meaning of images, investigating what contributes to a "powerful image".  We will discuss "pictorial" subject versus narrative subject: the diversities of structure, especially using strategies like the grid, the organic spiral and geometry, all of which play a part in research into the language of drawing.

The class meets everyday for two consecutive weeks from 9:00AM - 6:00PM, five days a week. Evening critiques will be held most nights during during both weeks, from approx 6:30pm - 9pm. This course is open to students of all levels. Cost: $1625.

Sculpture Marathon: John Gibbons, January 12-24, 2015

What sparked us into make sculpture? How in time has this been conditioned? Do we loose sight of that primary motivation through other concerns/experiences/demands or do these feed in? Where are we now?

The base premise of this project is to explore these place's and reflect on the place we are now at. The project will have a distinct individual beginning with self chosen materials and scale. The project will reveal itself through each individual.

Students will be challeged to work 5 various materials, chosen intuitively, without question - including at least one which has structural qualities. Creativity works through openness and engagement with intuition and deployed intelligence. This class is designed for students of all levels. Cost: $1625 + Materials Fee: $150

Drawing Marathon: Mark Lewis, January 12-16, 2015

How do we utilize drawing as a visual language?

The course will explore a variety of approaches to the act of perceptual drawing utilizing light, form, drawing materials, and time.  The artists will be required to engage and bring personal insight to several drawing problems, which may exist outside their normal working practices.  Several of the assignments will combine drawing and collage (utilizing traditional drawing materials).  Locating, establishing and building structure (the whole and the specific) will be emphasized throughout this one-week drawing course.  Most of the drawings will be in made in the studio utilizing the model and studio space.  A midweek afternoon drawing trip to the Metropolitan Museum is planned and will be incorporated into the drawing class as well. This course is suited to artists/students of all levels. Dates: Tuesday January 20 through Saturday January 24, 2015. Cost: $890


Drawing Marathon: Holly Hughes, January 20-24, 2015

"13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is a poem by Wallace Stevens and also the title of a chapter in Thomas McEvilley's: "Art and Discontent: Theory at the Millennium" , an award winning book of art criticism.  These texts will be required reading and operate as the basis for our exploration through drawing and works on paper of 13 contemporary art strategies. 

In a challenging, exploratory, and skill-expanding week students will each broaden the terrain of what can rightly be consider "their own way of drawing."  Examining process as much as content, material as much as observational skill, and contemporary attitudes and approaches as much as refined technique and traditional expectations -the course will ask each student to produce a steady stream of investigative work. Relationships to art history, considerations of genre, material, scale, iconography, attitudinal gestures, etc. will figure in intense drawing practice and projects.  During the course, there will be the opportunity to examine a couple of past works of art (produced by the student), as points of departure for new works on paper - intervening according to opportunities suggested by the reading.   Source imagery, collage materials and a diverse list of materials with which to work will be gathered by each student according to instructions.  The course is will have multiple group critiques, in which everyone will be encouraged to participate, along with many opportunities for one-on-one discussions. Students should count on learning from their own undertakings and as much from fellow participants. This course is open to students of all levels. Dates: Monday January 12 through Friday January 16, 2015. Cost: $890


Upcoming Marathon dates:

Summer 2015: June 1 -12, 2015

Fall 2015: September 8 - 18, 2015

Spring 2016: January 19 - 29, 2016


NB: All classes are subject to cancellation.


If you are currently enrolled as a full-time student at NYSS, or if you have successfully completed a Marathon or full-time program within the last five years, you are not required to submit an application in order to enroll in upcoming Marathons.

Please e-mail the Registrar Kaitlin McDonough at and provide: (1) the name of the upcoming course in which you would like to enroll; (2) the name of the program you most recently attended; and (3) the semester and year of the program that you most recently attended.

We will ask you to verify your contact information and update your Emergency Contact information.  We will also ask that you submit a non-refundable $45 processing fee along with a $500 Tuition Deposit (which will be applied to your Tuition payment) in order to secure your place in the upcoming program of your choice. 

We look forward to welcoming you back to the New York Studio School!

The deadline for Summer 2015 Enrollment is May 22nd, 2015.