International Incubators in Fine Arts

The Academy of Fine Arts offers its students and alumni the opportunity to learn more about fine arts in international contexts.


The joint project of Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen Foundation fosters the dialogue between teaching in fine arts and the international art community, all the while renewing the Finnish education and research in fine arts.

The main goal is to deepen the student’s understanding of working as an artist in international contexts and establish a culture of long-term international collaboration with high-quality partners. Being part of an inspiring international community with extensive networks supports the core duty of arts education – to help students develop versatile perception skills, a critical way of thinking and an independent form of expression.

The project period 2021-2025 supports the following initiatives: residencies for Academy of Fine Arts alumni, a mentorship program for students, a visiting professor program, Keynote lectures, an online conversation series Ac/kademie Talks, and an exchange programme for doctoral students and researchers engaged in artistic research.

Alumni residencies

Our residency programmes, aimed at the alumni of the Academy of Fine Arts, support post-graduate studies of visual artists in high-quality residences abroad in periods ranging from 3 to 12 months. Our programme partners are SPACE Art + Technology in London, ISCP – International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York, Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, LIFT – Liason of Independent Filmmakers in Toronto and Cove Park and Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Scotland. In addition, it is possible to receive a grant to Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, if a graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts is selected to its residency program.

The call for applications to Ecologies in the Making: Sculpting Futures residency program in Scotland and for the ISCP residency in New York is open 13 October – 13 November 2022. The residency calls for Jan van Eyck, SPACE and LIFT have closed for 2022 and the next calls will be announced in spring 2023. Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten accepts applications yearly through an open call closing on 1 October.

International mentoring programme

The international mentoring programme of the Academy of Fine Arts follows a new model of guidance and instruction: internationally successful artists and professionals in the arts provide support for a student’s journey of growing into an artist and help them develop skills needed in international contexts. Through lessons, studio visits and feedback discussions, the student is given unique tools to review their own work from various perspectives. The programme is a chance for artists of the next generation to engage in a mutually rewarding dialogue with international art professionals who have already established themselves in the field.

Saastamoinen Foundation Keynote

The speaker of the annual Keynote lecture is a person with an international impact and wide recognition in the arts community – an artist, curator, writer or some other influencer. The first lecture in the series was held in January 2016 by Okwui Enwezor, the director of the Haus Der Kunst Museum in Munich and the curator of the Venice Biennale 2015. In 2017, the Keynote speakers were Elmgreen & Dragset, an artist duo who served as the curators of the Istanbul Biennial. In 2018, the speaker was Adam Szymczyk, who has worked as the artistic director of Documenta 14, for example. The 2019 lecture was held by Martha Rosler, a US-born pioneer in feminist art, and the 2020 lecture by Andrea Giunta, an esteemed expert in Latin American art. British artist, professor and researcher Sonia Boyce was invited as Keynote speaker in 2022. During the same year, Boyce won the Golden Lion for best national participation at the Venice Biennale with her work Feeling Her Way.

Visiting professor program

Every year, many internationally renowned artists and experts in the field of art come to the Academy of Fine Arts as visiting professors. The donation by the Saastamoinen Foundation allows the Academy to continue to develop the visiting professor programme in the long term.

New steps in artistic research

The new New Steps program promoting the pluralism of artistic research was launched at the Uniarts Helsinki´s Academy of Fine Arts in 2021. The program strengthens and expands the international academic network of doctoral students and researchers at the Academy of Fine Arts. Brigitta Stone-Johnson (Wits School of Art/Johannesburg) and Zen Marie (Wits School of Art/Johannesburg) will be visiting the Academy of Fine Arts research days in December 2022. At the research days, Stone-Johnson and Marie will each give a public, streamed lecture. An artistic research workshop aimed at graduate students and researchers is also organized during their visit. In the New Steps program, doctoral students and researchers of the Academy of Fine Arts are awarded grants for visiting a nondomestic university or art institution relevant to their own research. In 2023, the primary partner will be the Wits School of Art in Johannesburg.

Project name

International incubators in fine arts




Saastamoinen Foundation


Sade Kahra
Project Manager
+358 (0)50 452 3047