Changes are Coming to the MFAH’s Core Residency Program

by Jessica Fuentes April 30, 2024

The Core Residency Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is currently hiring new leadership and has paused applications for the 2024-25 term.

new Glassell School of Art

Inside the new Glassell School of Art

Since its establishment in 1982, the Core Program has offered residencies to art critics and visual artists. The residency term is for nine months (September through May), and fellows are able to apply for a second term for the following year. Residents have received a stipend (the 2024 application indicated this would be $21,500), 24-hour access to a private studio or work space, and borrowing privileges at the MFAH Hirsch Library and Rice University Fondren Library. The 2023-24 artists-in-residents are larí garcía, Saúl Hernández-Vargas, Erin Holland, Yifan Jiang, Umico Niwa, and Carlos Vielma, and the critics-in-residence are Valentin Diaconov and Max Tolleson.

On February 20, 2024, the MFAH posted a job opening for the Dean of the Core Residency Program on its employment webpage. The position is listed as a senior leadership role at the Glassell School of the Arts that will work closely with the Glassell’s director. Previously the position that oversaw the Core Residency program was the Associate Director of the Core Program, a job that was held by Mary Leclere. Ms. Leclere worked at the Core for over a decade, during which time she shaped the program’s structure, working directly with residents in weekly seminars. Her recent departure was not announced by the organization.

Earlier this year, the Core opened applications for its 2024-2025 term, with an application deadline of April 1. However, at the end of March, the program emailed applicants to inform them that applications had been paused. The email stated, “We are taking this moment to carefully consider how we can refine the Core Residency Program to better meet the evolving needs of our residents and the broader community.” A similar message is posted on the MFAH’s Core Program webpage. The site also provides a link to a form that interested applicants can fill out to receive information about the program in the future. While the email to prospective residents stated that the application process will resume for the 2025-2026 term, the website does not include that specific information.

Paul Coffey, the Director of the Glassell School of Arts, who took over for Joseph Havel, the program’s longtime director who recently retired, told Glasstire, “We have launched a search with national and international reach for a newly created position entitled the Dean of Core at the Glassell School of Art at the MFAH. This new position has expanded responsibilities that include the Visiting Artists Program, the Exhibition Program and the Core Residency.”

He continued, “We have paused the admissions process for Core for the 2024-2025 year while we appoint and acclimate our new dean. We want our Dean to have a voice in who the next set of Core Fellows will be.” 

Mr. Coffey also noted that the MFAH will be interviewing the three finalists for the Dean position soon and looks forward to welcoming the selected candidate to the team. He did not share any additional information with Glasstire about context around why Ms. Leclere is no longer with the Core Program, or what any future changes to the program may entail.

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former Core fellow April 30, 2024 - 11:33

Shady af, MFAH done Mary Leclere dirty!


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