Your contribution will help an IDSVA PhD candidate advance the knowledge of art and philosophy toward altogether new horizons.

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IDSVA is internationally recognized as one of the world's top PhD programs in the visual arts.  Your contribution will help an IDSVA PhD candidate advance the knowledge of art and philosophy toward altogether new horizons.

Eminent American artist and scholar David Driskell has described IDSVA as “one of the single most important developments in the recent history of art education.” We are proud to have your support. 

Why It Matters

IDSVA matters because we are empowering the enlightened mind to engage with the highest achievements of the human imagination.  In doing so, we provide an international community of brilliant thinkers with the tools to analyze, understand, and articulate the soul of humanity for generations to come. IDSVA's purpose is to ensure that civilization's understanding and expression of itself will not be lost. To that end:

  • IDSVA offers the world's first PhD in philosophy designed especially for visual artists and creative thinkers.

  • IDSVA's internationally acclaimed visiting faculty includes leading artists, philosophers, and scholars from around the world.

  • The program’s pioneering curriculum combines rigorous philosophical study with on-site intensives worldwide.

  • This fusion of distance learning with intensive residencies allows working art professionals to pursue rigorous advanced scholarship without having to interrupt or abandon their teaching careers, art practice, or other professional responsibilities.

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"I am honored to be a student of the first class of IDSVA. It is a groundbreaking program that will change the way we look at the American artist in relation to the international art world."

Heather Dunn
2014 IDSVA Graduate


Margot and Robert Kelley, Venice 2015

Margot and Robert Kelley, Venice 2015

We are proud to announce that Margot and Robert Kelley have been recognized as IDSVA Residency Patrons*. 

Dr. Margot Kelley serves on our Board of Trustees and has served in a variety of key roles over the course of IDSVA's institutional development, including Interim Director of the School.

Dr. Robert Kelley designed and implemented our new and highly innovative digital education platform.

In addition to their generous and freely given contributions of time and talent, major financial gifts from Margot and Rob Kelley go far to explain IDSVA's standing as a global leader in graduate education.

IDSVA honored Margot and Rob at a naming ceremony and dinner reception in June at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Henceforward the Venice residency will be called:  THE MARGOT AND ROBERT KELLEY VENICE BIENNALE RESIDENCY 

*IDSVA Residency Patrons contribute $90,000 or more in support of IDSVA's educational programing.


Ben and Sheila Devine are longtime Maine residents and active participants in IDSVA’s ongoing development. Ben Devine has served on IDSVA’s Board of Trustees since 2015. Their $90,000 gift supports IDSVA’s biannual Paris Residency. A key component in IDSVA’s Topological Studies Program, the Paris residency puts IDSVA students in direct engagement with some of the most important moments in the history of art and ideas. In addition to studying at the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Pompidou Center, the Picasso Museum, and the Rodin Museum, Paris residency students participate in lectures and seminars delivered by France’s foremost philosophers on art, including Jean-Luc Nancy, Étienne Balibar, and Sylvère Lotringer.

Edgar (Ted) Coons and Dr. George Smith, IDSVA Commencement 2019

Edgar (Ted) Coons and Dr. George Smith, IDSVA Commencement 2019


Leading American educator and psychologist Edgar (Ted) Coons has been a member of the Psychology and Neuroscience faculty at NYU for over forty years. In 2015, Professor Coons established the annually awarded IDSVA Ted Coons Dissertation Prize, and in 2016 he joined IDSVA’s Board of Trustees. In 2019, Dr. Coons made a one million dollar gift to IDSVA and thereby established THE EDGAR E. COONS JR. PROFESSORSHIP OF NEW PHILOSOPHY. Dr. George Smith, IDSVA’s founder and president, has been named the first holder of The Edgar E. Coons Jr. Professorship of New Philosophy.

“I'm really happy to be able to give to IDSVA because doing that helps to contribute to something that seems to me to be a fundamentally new way of doing education in the United States.”

Margot Kelley
IDSVA Board Member

IDSVA: The World-Class Low-Residency PhD in Visual Arts