photo by David Fenster

The Madrean Archipelago, an array of isolated mountains dispersed throughout the northern Sonoran Desert, known colloquially as "Sky Islands", are a defining characteristic of the urbanizing Tucson basin. These topographic erratics allow for a rich diversity of flora, fauna, and geologic conditions due to their dramatic elevation gradients, providing islands of climatically cool habitat amongst a sea often extreme temperatures. Residents of the Tucson basin, human and non-human, benefit from the proximity to these islands – a source of high contrast and intrigue that shapes the arts and ecology of our community.

SNAG is a Low-Residency Field Studies program. For the 2022 non-academic year SNAG assembled applicants who wished to explore in higher resolution what it means to be an artist in the rainshadow of these rich biotic erratics. SNAG is open to all. Tuition is non-monetary and collected throughout the non-academic school year in the form of inquisitive participation and engagment.
SNAG is funded in part by MOCA Tucson’s Night Bloom Grant / The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program.

SNAG will collaboratively be produced by its participants, but is loosely facilitated by Erik Schmahl ( and Susanna Battin (

I’ve never heard of the School of New Art Geographies, how come?

SNAG is new. 2022 will be the first non-academic school year.

Who should apply to SNAG?

SNAG hopes to assemble a cohort of self-motivated thinkers, makers, and researchers. The division between educator and student will be flimsy at best, so ideal candidates are open to sharing their skills and knowledge with the rest of the cohort. All students will be strongly encouraged to keep up with readings, screenings, and field studies — but the “low residency” aspect acknowledges that students have busy lives and practices outside of SNAG.

How often do I need to show up to class?

There are no classes. SNAG will meet bi-weekly (every 14 days) at locations in and around Tucson, AZ to discuss assignments and conduct field workshops. SNAG will meet outdoors most often, and will adhere to public saftey protocols regarding COVID-19. More information will be provided on the syllabus once it is established.

Am I an artist? This is an art school, right?

SNAG was concieved for those with an existing art practice, but that definition is very open. Poets, researchers, scientists, filmmakers, visual artists, performers, musicians, culinary artists, architects, etc. are encouraged to apply. The general idea of SNAG is to explore geographic situations through the expansive potential of art. Many of the structural aspects of SNAG will be informed by art school approaches, such as the studio visit, readings with critical discussions, and workshoping ideas and techniques collectively.

Is this really a school? It sounds kind of like a reading group that goes on field trips and then just uses that experience to critically challenge one another to expand one’s art practice...

That sounds like a school, no?

I’d like to participate but I don’t live in Tucson, Arizona. Can I still be involved?

SNAG meets in person in Tucson, AZ. Our syllabus will be publicly accessible on this website. If you would like to participate further, please let us know and we can try to find a way to work together remotely.

Is there a digital application?

We would like for everyone to support the Postal Service by licking a stamp and dropping a physical application in the mail. We will send you an application if needed, just let us know. You can apply via e-mail as an alternative, please see above.

Where do I send my SAT scores and transcripts?

Please don’t.