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MFA Visual Art Research

A research guide created for students in the MFA program at Lesley University College of Art and Design.

Choosing a Topic

Once you have a topic, like "feminism in art" or "Van Gogh" then you can start to move into a more specific research question. See what's available for research, but also consider the 4 Ps!

Can you narrow to a specific:

  • People
  • Problem
  • Perspective
  • Place

As you search through the resources below, jot down questions that pop up for you. For example you might be reading basic biography info about an artist but it will inspire you think "hmm, this dude seems problematic, I wonder how black communities reacted to his work" or "this movement doesn't highlight a lot of female artists, I wonder if they had their own collective". The whole research process is easier if you're actually curious about finding the answer to your question.

Credo Reference: Art and Art History

banner image "because you can't always trust the accuracy and bias of Wikipedia"

Try out Credo Reference or Oxford Art Online when you need some background info, but you want something more reliable than Wikipedia! 

Credo Logo


To find basic info about a work of art (creator/medium/where it's housed), try Artstor!
You'll also get a great high-quality image file!


Research Starters

When you search using our new @LL Search you get results from the book catalog AND the journal databases!  You might also find Research Starters like these. Click on them to get Wikipedia-like articles with background info on a topic from published encyclopedias you can trust!

Try out your own search below!  Remember that "Van Gogh" or "Impressionism" don't make good paper topics because they are too broad, but you can always start broad and narrow your topic after reading some of these background articles!

Advanced Search