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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 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.

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.

Please email with any questions or to register for our upcoming Virtual Marathon Information Session on October 20th at 5pm EST.


Tuesday, January 19th – Friday, January 29th, 2021
*Classes meet daily, 9am – 6pm EST, with the exception of Sunday, January 24th

Virtual Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson & Guests
In-Person Drawing Marathon with Ilse Murdock
In-Person Sculpture Marathon with Brandt Junceau

All levels are welcome and Partial Scholarships are available.

Apply On Slideroom

Virtual Drawing Marathon – with Graham Nickson & Guests

9am - 6pm

Course Description This course will investigate many implications of drawing as a physical and cerebral activity as well as drawing as a philosophy.  We 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 […]

In-Person Drawing Marathon – with Ilse Murdock

9am - 6pm

Course Description: The purpose of this two-week intensive Drawing Marathon is to provide each student with methods and practices concerning the idea of drawing as backbone of studio practice. 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 […]

In-Person Sculpture Marathon – with Brandt Junceau

9am - 6pm

Course Description: You’re alone in your studio. You’ve just made something new, and you’re taking a first look at what you have.  Now what? How do you make more of this thing? What makes it more itself, ready to leave the room and stand up to strangers? What stays in and what cuts? Where to add? What sticks? Where is the […]

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