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Graham Nickson to Become Dean Emeritus of New York Studio School

Visionary teacher led School for more than half its history, created the legendary Drawing Marathon, leaves profound legacy

New York, NY – July 1, 2024 – The Board of Trustees of the New York Studio School announced today that Dean Graham Nickson will become Dean Emeritus, following an extraordinary 36-year tenure as Dean. Associate Dean Kaitlin McDonough, who has been with the School on both faculty and staff since 2014, will serve as Acting Head of School. The Board will form a search committee to find Nickson’s successor.

The British-born artist, who came to New York in 1976, built the New York Studio School into a vital center for the in-depth study of painting, drawing, and sculpture. Nickson created the now internationally recognized Drawing Marathon, an intensive, two-week course of study that has become the signature program of the School—grounded in drawing from perception and emblematic of the Studio School’s pedagogical rigor. He established the MFA program in 2004 and most recently led a newly created virtual certificate program, which graduated its inaugural cohort this year.

In a message to the NYSS community, Board President F. Anthony Zunino shared, “The Board of Trustees gratefully recognizes the power of Graham’s transformational leadership. His vision—as an artist, as a teacher, as a leader—has had a profound impact on thousands of students who have found their path as lifelong artists. Under his leadership, New York Studio School has become an important cultural and educational center, with a community that extends far beyond New York City.”

As a painter and teacher, Graham continues to inspire:

Seeing and translating one’s experience of the world is paramount. It informs our philosophical vision to create both a quest and understanding of thousands of years of art, from caves to courtyards.

Once embarked on their mission, students soon discover questions are a crucial part of the answers. Our graduates, equipped with a deep understanding of the language of art, are then able to build, reinvent, and extend its power to change people’s lives.

The ability to see is both optical and spiritual. Astronauts and pathfinders, our graduates carve through space of the ever present for a vital future, tomorrow able to make works — material, boundless, and true to their vision.

Marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Studio School, the annual Benefit on October 24, 2024 will celebrate Nickson’s legacy and host a special exhibition of Graham’s paintings and watercolors to open the same day. The selection will include new work and work drawn from the William Louis-Dreyfus Collection.

Nickson, represented most recently by Betty Cuningham Gallery in New York City, is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Prix de Rome, the Harkness Fellowship at Yale University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Ingram Merrill Fellowship. His works can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Morgan Library & Museum, the Albright-Knox in Buffalo, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others.

New York Studio School will host its Annual Benefit on Thursday October 24, 2024. We look forward to welcoming the NYSS community to celebrate the School’s 60th anniversary and Graham’s extraordinary legacy.

Press Release

Letter from F. Anthony Zunino III, Chair, Board of Trustees 


Graham Nickson teaching a Drawing Marathon, Fall 1989. Photographer unknown.
Graham Nickson teaching a Drawing Marathon, Summer 2019. Courtesy NYSS.

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