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NYSS Marathons occur in January, June, July, and September in a two-week format. Five-day Intersession Marathons occur in March and November. Please enjoy descriptions of upcoming Marathons below and apply to join us.

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.

Originally designed to address the importance of drawing as the basis of understanding one’s experience in the world, the Marathons are based on 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 by both regular faculty and distinguished vis­iting artists who are present for the entire two-week 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 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 creation of strong and surprising works can be the catalyst for future work. In addition to being part of the full-time program, application to the Marathons are open to beginning and advanced artists regardless of their affiliations. Admission follows the same requirements and procedures as the full-time program. Fees for the ten-day course must be paid in full upon registration.

The Marathon course hours are 9am to 6pm, 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.

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. Learn more here.

Virtual Marathons

Virtual Marathons are an incredible opportunity for artists from around the world to experience the high caliber NYSS Marathons from their respective homes and studios. Taught through a combination of Zoom and Padlet, these courses bring the rigorous exercises, profound insights, and deep connections of in-person Marathons to participants via virtual means. Artists of all levels are welcome to join. Virtual Marathons are offered as two-week sessions (10 days) in September, January, and during the summer months. Virtual Marathons are offered as one-week (5 consecutive days, Thursday through Monday) Intersession Marathons in November and March of each year.

Please email with any questions.


Tuesday, January 17 – Friday, January 27, 2023 

Drawing Marathon – VIRTUAL with Graham Nickson & Guests
Drawing Marathon – IN-PERSON with Ilse Murdock & Guests
Sculpture Marathon – IN-PERSON with Brandt Junceau & Guests

All levels are welcome.

Please scroll down to view course description and syllabus.

Apply On Slideroom

Drawing Marathon – VIRTUAL: Duel/Dual: Abstraction in the Process of Drawing & Figuration in the Abstraction of Looking with Graham Nickson & Guests

9am - 6pm ET

Course Description In the Drawing Marathon, students learn the importance of drawing as the basis for understanding their 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. The class meets every day […]

Drawing Marathon – IN-PERSON with Ilse Murdock & Guests

9am - 6pm ET

Course Description Drawing is the aspect of unearthing one’s own art and ideas, of moving with an evolving sounding board, of being in a mode of interior thinking and receiving next steps. This course poses drawing as a question or search that will enrich each individual’s particular art context and contemporary perspective. With a strong […]

Sculpture Marathon – IN-PERSON: when this you see, remember her (or him) with Brandt Junceau & Guests

9am - 6pm ET

Course Description The “through-the-shoulders bust portrait”- no base, just face-forward person standing as them self, has been on my mind for years, because it’s just terrific. Inexhaustible. In the Italian Renaissance it was a go-to form for portraits of young women, either recently betrothed, or recently deceased. Emotionally complex from the start, but the form […]

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