DIY Art School

Collectively reimagining arts education without life altering debt.


DIY Art School is a self-directed collectively conceived Masters program in the San Francisco Bay Area that aims to achieve higher art education without life-altering debt.  We reference MFA in order to draw into question the systems of capitalism that have created cultural homogenization, exclusionary institutions, debt and social privilege in higher education surrounding modern artists in the United States. 

We believe an interdependent system of education can further our individual self-actualization and the collective liberation of all. We find and create the resources needed for effective creative practices in the personal and public spheres we inhabit. We strive for a curriculum that incorporates multidisciplinary art with politics and personal growth. Academia as it currently exists is out of alignment with our needs; we seek an education that is dimensional, accessible, and dynamic.



DIY Art School was founded in 2014 by Rebekah Erev and Rob Thoms, inspired by the work of Sarita Dougherty and David Whitaker of DIY PhD in Los Angeles. The first semester was made when Grace Rosario Perkins, José Luis Íñiguez López, and Alexandra Barao joined, and we learned from sources including Paul Thek’s 4-D sculpture class notes, Lynda Barry’s teaching guide Syllabus, and essays from the anthology Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century). Using public libraries as our classrooms, we rotated roles as facilitator and student while investigating topics such as loss, desire, identity, and ancestry through writing, artmaking, and discussion. We attended lectures by Genesis P-Orridge, Jeff Chang, Eva Franch i Gilabert, and more. We were profiled in the East Bay Express, gathered support from Stephanie Syjuco and Harrell Fletcher, obtained access to university art class curriculums, and were urged to be legitimized as the eighth MFA program in the Bay Area.

The second semester added four new artists (below) and continued the collective endeavor exploring ideas and work around  art and class,  supply chains, dark matter, anamotronix, sigilcraft, magic, and autonomy. In addition to holding weekly critiques and classes, DIY Art School was a participant in the Omni Fair at the Open Engagement conference and had a pop art show at Omni Commons showcasing our semesters work. Our program culminated with a group show called Hex Work at Qulture Collective in Oakland. Members of DIY Art School continue diverse and independent inquiry into alternative arts education, and we invite others to share the spirit of DIY Art School.  



DIY Art School originally called ourselves DIY MFA, out of an interest in questioning the institutions that maintain cultural exclusion in the art world and higher art education world. We never gained nor attempted to gain legal trademark of this name, and we used it colloquially in our materials and in verbal and written explanations of our program. In June 2016, we were served with a Cease and Desist by DIY MFA, LLC, a for-profit writing program in New York City, who had trademarked the name. Though we collectively mourn the privatization of DIY, and spiritually rebel against this cold and ironic twist in our path of self-directed education, our attorneys advised us that our punk ethics would not stand up in court. 

We are now known as DIY Art School. 


Current Cohort

Rebekah Erev is a queer, Jewish, feminist artist who works in object-making, performance and the written word. Born to the pines of New Jersey she came of age in Olympia, Washington and currently lives in the Bay Area. Her work explores the intersections of assimilation, language and memory. Erev recently self-published the Moon Angel / Malakh Halevanah deck and book which were born of her interest in providing tools to shift cultural healing towards the expression of liberation in all its complexities. She has collaborated on film and performance with Wu Li Leung and recently returned from a northwest tour.

Rob Thoms produces art across broad media, such as papermaking, sculpture, drawing, installation, land art, and printmaking, generally utilizing these in a social practice manner to engage participants--knowingly or unknowingly--in a larger study or production. He holds a BA in Biology and Studio Art Practice from Macalester College. He was born and raised on a bog in rural northern Wisconsin, which affects his choice of natural materials and utilizing natural forces as art making processes.

Inés Ixierda is a queer Bolivian American interdisciplinary artist in Oakland, CA. She uses multi-media art, craft, and design to share her perspective. She is interested in social justice, decolonization, feminist utopias, finding beauty in the discarded, magical objects, and collective liberation.

Celeste Chan is a hybrid artist, filmmaker, writer, and organizer. Her work explores home/history/queerness/and displacement. She is a Hedgebrook, Lambda, Soaring Gardens, and VONA alumna. Her recent writing can be found in AWAYcream city review, andGlitter & Grit: Heels on Wheels Performance Anthology (Studio Press). Her experimental films have screened nationally and internationally. Alongside KB Boyce, she co-directs Queer Rebels, a queer and trans people of color arts project. She is collaborating with Elliat Graney-Saucke to create ART Heart: Children of Riot Grrrl and Beyond, an experimental feature-length documentary. /

Lacey Johnson is an interdisciplinary visual artist who creates Craft Works of Speculative Fiction. Using installation, soft sculpture, upholstery and sci-fi textiles, she conjures landscapes of sight, texture and motion. She deconstructs everyday ephemera with a focus on studying low-fi techniques for movement and simple mechanics, seeing her work as Critical Craft at the intersections of outsider engineering and Queer Feminist Science Fiction.

Rachel Cardenas Stallings is an Oakland based artist working in painting, photography, and video. Many points of interest converge in her work, including Mormon Feminism, body as material, and humor. Originally from Utah, she earned her BFA in Studio Art from Brigham Young University in 2013. She has exhibited throughout Utah and Arizona and is currently exhibiting work in a group show at ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. She will be starting the Art Practice MFA program at UC Berkeley this fall. She will also be opening an alternative art space called Lago Projects in Summer 2016.



Art School Opt Out   : Artists form their own do-it-yourself Art School program to learn and create outside of an institution.    By Sarah Burke, East Bay Express, February 4, 2015.