MCAD

In April, MFA Alum Kelli Nelson ’13 returned to Ecce Gallery in Fargo, North Dakota for her second solo painting exhibition. Kelli’s work suggests ties to Francis Bacon and Oehlen stylistically, but she maintains her own distinct, nuanced voice throughout her latest series of paintings. She has taught foundation drawing at MCAD, drawing, painting, and figure drawing at […]

Leslie Barlow’s work consists of oil painting, collage, and drawings. She uses the figure and narrative elements to talk about issues related to multiculturalism, “otherness,” and identity. Working within the history of figurative painting, the figure offers a fertile ground to push the boundaries of our known visual language and inject that history with a new […]

Julie Reneé Benda thinks of lakes, rocks, and trees as an original vocabulary—one that infuses her understanding of the world through story and experience. In her artwork, she uses her own and others’ narratives of place to promote and strengthen this communication. The work builds upon her explorations of creating thoughtful environments and subtle interactions that […]

John Bivens is an award-winning visual storyteller, focused on the comic book medium. His work reflects a love of watching society and interpreting the cause of social actions. Instead of turning away in reaction, he uses dark humor to help him digest the information he absorbs. In his thesis, Lil’ Charlie, John has created a new […]

Anna Leigh Biedenbender is interested in the human condition. In her work she dissolves figure/ground relationships into compositions of gestural line and mark. Through this process, she reflects on the intersections of personal identity, sanctuary, and relationship. Anna works from multiple sources, referencing photographs, direct observation, and other renderings. She combines and translates this information through painting […]

When so much of our digital identity is comprised of selected fictions, Allison Brown crafts fictions that live in those spaces as truth. The majority of her work is grounded in her working-class childhood in south-central Indiana. Feminism, politics, and class are central lenses through which she construct her narratives; populism versus authority acts as […]

Kelsey Bosch creates installations in moving image, sculpture, and sound reflecting on our mediated relationship to nature. For the two past years, she has focused on ice, linking her experience of winter, living in Minnesota, to the abstract and absent phenomenon she hears occurring in polar regions. Her work is rooted in looking and listening, […]

Kayla Campbell’s work is directly influenced by the nature of campy kitsch, pop culture, and the never-ending search for some waterfront property in the uncanny valley. It’s something with which she has been fascinated before she knew what it was, or that the concept had a name. She is interested in how these campy, kitschy, […]

Siqi Cheng is a graphic designer who focuses on typography, specifically the relationship letters have as two-dimensional forms with three-dimensional forms. She is interested in the relationship of typography to our daily life. In researching different types, she investigates the legibility and display within various type forms. Siqi is interested in the relationship of typography to […]

Trained as a photographer, but working with many mediums, Andi Fink investigates the many facets that make up a contemporary feminine experience, especially as it pertains to the body. Her work examines the body as a canvas to act upon, a refuge against the world, and as a personal penitentiary. In a practice that involves […]

Rob Gooding’s films aim—through hyperreal visual storytelling—to make you feel cornered and to look at things you do not normally see. Within the short films he makes, emotional trajectories of years are concentrated into stories under twenty minutes to create an immediate experience. These emotions are expressed through his psychologically complex characters that deal with an […]

Though trained as a painter, Preston Drum has recently turned toward building interactive sculptural installations using cardboard, garbage, and other recycled materials. These installations are pseudo stages where the viewer becomes a part of a performance. There is no script for these plays—the work is driven by narratives of the downtrodden souls from his North Carolinian roots. […]

Liza Dorsey has been working toward describing and displaying documents that seek to encode the experience of flow onto a surface. Flow, a state of mind characterized by complete absorption in an activity, is something she experiences and implements when she paint. Driven by her competitive nature and a desire to create work that repeatedly evolves, Liza’s gestural […]

As a graphic designer, Cong Hu works through multimedia to explore the threshold and transform it within different forms. Art is a language that gives her the supplement to fill up vacancies in the design world. She never gets tired of enriching her skills and expanding her design vocabulary. Currently, she is exploring time. In her work, […]

Essma Imady’s medium of choice is film. Film is a very visual experience, and she challenges this through using limited imagery or a layered surface that does not allow the vision to penetrate to its depth in order to present questions about the limits of vision, and to trouble the relation between vision and knowledge. […]

Rachel Leigh Jennings comes from a rural landscape and her work is reflective of that upbringing. A sense of place acts as the central theme in her work, whether it is the subject matter, or reflected in the creation of a physical environment. Rachel’s fascination with objects and a corporeal presence is embodied through material […]

Patience Lekien’s creative practice is an engine with which he communicates and express blackness and issues that encompass it. Patience uses his practice to both define what culture sees as blackness, but at the same time dissect its core meaning and the chaotic beauty it embodies. He aims to capture the varying spectrums that allude […]

In Qiuwen Li’s designs, graphic elements are constructed, deconstructed, and then reconstructed in order to create a richer experience and extend their meaning. As a designer, Qiuwen understands the need for legibility, but she is more concerned with communicating something more visceral, expressive, and imaginative. Her work engages viewers in a way that evokes playing games and figuring out puzzles; […]

Katie Lupton is a cross-disciplinary designer. Her work aims to investigate relationships between design constraints and parameters within play and fun. The tactile nature of her work is heavily influenced by an interest in play and participation and how both can be incorporated into design solutions. The work Katie produces reflects the traditions and motifs of her Norwegian heritage, championing effortlessness […]

Growing up, Mandy Martinson heard endless stories from her father about his work as an investigator of violent crime. At the dinner table, it was just as common to hear about disturbing cases as it was to talk about how their days went. With this type of upbringing, Mandy became interested in criminology and the merging of work life […]

John Matsunaga is an artist who uses photography and artists’ books as his main media of expression. In his work, he focuses conceptually on history, memory and forgetting, and racial identity and inequality. Overall, John’s goal is to create social commentaries that promote an awareness of the constructed nature of and the biases within our histories, identities, and visual representations. […]

Sarah Faye McPherson explores ideas of impermanence and the connections she sees between three distinct spaces: nature, architecture, and the digital realm. She is fascinated by the concept of a mediated experience—where the digital realm, architectural space, and the natural world all collide to create a contemporary vocabulary relying on the cyclicality of these realms to […]

Heidi Miller tactically employs humor, meditative spaces, enigmatic approaches, and product-based solutions for social criticism, to create an escape, or to provide consumer alternatives. Using the “design for good” movement as a guide, she explores how graphic design can be revealing and have ethical impact.  Often, Heidi uses appropriated materials. Engaged with these design relics, she deconstructs them […]

Kathryn Miller is interested in the gestural action of a landscape and how that gesture might inform human response. Her work directs material and scale to question ways of working and being in the world: How do we measure human physicality in the spaces we inhabit? What is the essence of physical work? How might we reassess […]

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Alex Mitchell tells stories.  Sometimes he tells his own stories, and sometimes he tells the stories of others. Thematically, Alex’s interests tend toward explorations of myth, mystery, and the creation of meaning through narrative. If myth is order—the cause and effect of the world, the description, delineation, and development cosmos (literally the opposite of chaos)—then mystery is the negative space […]

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Niky Motekallem makes work that revolves around an esoteric mythos and the natural world. She makes decay beautiful and depicts animals and figures rotting, surrounded by plants and fungi in a state of exchanging matter.  Before becoming an illustrator, Niky was a painter and printmaker. She found that her work could exist comfortably within illustration, which straddles the realm […]

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Christopher Selleck has been making photographs for twenty-five plus years, and for him there still exists the same wonder and excitement that was present when he watched his first print appear in a tray of developer. Growing up as a closeted gay man, he felt like an outside observer to masculinity. Using sports and masculinity as a lens to […]

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Amber Newman is interested in the phenomenon of images naturally becoming the face of movements, but she is also interested in the way technology and the Internet has increased global awareness of serious situations with videos, sound recordings, and still images.   She uses graphic design and new technologies as a way to critique these images as a […]

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Nick Rivers’ work deals with violence, destruction, love, and creation. He considers gestures between the specific toward the universal, then examines displacement and dislocation in the world and himself. Being concerned with evidence and the mark, he creates gestures of things occurring, things which occurred, and things yet to occur. In Nick’s words, “we are all related. All […]

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Eric Yevak uses traditional painting methods combined with digitally created work to address the concept of transcendence inside of the contemporary sublime. The work apprehends loss and desire: loss of self, of the moment, of faith; desire for security, understanding, and identity. It approaches struggle as a method to transcend conscious existence. The work is not a […]

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This March, second year MFA candidate Qiuwen Li published two projects in Creative Quarterly Magazine, Issue 41. She was selected from a highly competitive and juried pool of applicants, and was chosen as a winner in both the Fine Art: Student, and Graphic Design: Student categories, for projects she completed under MCAD’s Graphic Design Professor and Chair, […]

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This month, MFA alum Lindsey Ries is having her paintings showcased, along with local artist Mike Welton, in the Inez Greenberg Gallery at Artistry, Bloomington’s Center For the Arts. The show is aptly titled Urban Extracts.  Lindsey’s work contains both rural and architectural motifs, and she portrays the landscape with elements of abstraction and representational forms. She graduated from MCAD’s […]

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This March, first year MFA candidate Erin Sandsmark participated in a group show at Altered Esthetics Gallery, which was part of the Guerilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover. Sandsmark’s work is made up of large-scale acrylic paintings that are centered on her figure, and how the body she has fits into the world. She has made […]

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This Spring, MCAD MFA candidates for 2016 and 2017 were invited to submit artwork for consideration into a group show at the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. Jurors Mia Lopez and Kimberly Witczak selected 25 artists for the exhibition. The following students were selected for the show: Julie Benda, Anna Biedenbender, Kelsey Bosch, Allison Brown, Kayla […]

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On April 7th, Ditch Gallery hosted the opening of a show by MFA mentor Kelly O’Brien. The show, Role Model, featured paintings and 3D works. Her practice plays with the ideas of paint and sculpture. From her website: “Expectations of what is considered sculpture or painting are exaggerated for the compositional battle, and the form is dictated by […]

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This month Make it Move, an organization run by MFA alumni Jack Pavlik and Peng Wu, hosted its second juried exhibition, Body and Machine 2016: Kinetic and Interactive Art. Make It Move is an arts organization devoted to the exhibition and promotion of kinetic and interactive arts. It started as an idea in 2014, modeled on […]

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Earlier this month, MCAD’s Gallery 148 hosted a show by one of our second year MFA candidates. INLAND was a solo exhibition of works by Sarah Faye McPherson. Utilizing 3D digital fabrication, projection and sculpture, McPherson reiterated the notion of a mediated experience—blurring the realms of nature, architecture and the digital realm. The show featured […]

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Sound + Vision XXX Art Shanty, by MCAD MFA candidates Kathryn Miller, Julie Benda, and Kelsey Bosch provides a phenomenological experience of sound, light, and ice that will lead participants to reconfigure and deepen relationships to winter in Minnesota. Sound + Vision XXX is a collaborative project that endeavors to negotiate the mystery, femininity, and physicality of […]

At the tailend of the March, five of our drawing and painting majors were able to meet with Juan Sánchez, an influential American Artist and one of the most important Nuyorican cultural figures to emerge in the second half of the 20th century. Born to migrant working-class Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, New York, Sánchez […]

In early March, Visiting Faculty member and MFA mentor Andy DuCett was invited to make a limited edition serigraph at The Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE. Over the course of five days, he worked with master printer Joshua Norton to produce the first screen print of his work. The result was a 10 […]

Made at MCAD is the annual juried exhibition featuring the best work submitted by current MCAD graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in design, fine arts, media arts, and entrepreneurial studies. Of the 63 artists in the show, 23 of them were MFA students including: Rachel Jennings, Bianca Jarvis, Joel Terry, Jesse R. Lentz, Essma Imady, Joe Letchford, Michaela Chorn, Liza Dorsey, Kayla Campbell, Dana […]

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On the first Friday of March this year, Open Studio Night 2016 marked the debut of the MFA program’s new home at 2201 First Avenue South. This expanded 23,000 square foot facility gives students room to really flex their creative muscles and supports the rigor and vitality that make MCAD’s MFA program one of the […]

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First-year painter, Michaela Chorn, was featured in The Emerging Artists Exhibit, a juried group show that included undergraduate and graduate level college artists and non-students who have never been featured in a gallery exhibit. The show included a variety of work from 11 emerging artists from Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa at Crossings, which ran January […]

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This February, MCAD’s Gallery 148 hosted New Geographic 2, the collaborative effort of first-year graphic designer Dan Romanoski and designer Eric Hurtgen. NG2 made use of projections and looping image – along with sound by the producer Cubby – to explore a life where the edges of physical and digital landscapes overlap. The show opening […]

Last week, graduate drawing/painting candidate Kathryn Miller was a part of a gallery talk at Waiting Room here in Minneapolis. The gallery discussion was in conjunction with the show, Current Location, and featured artists Isa Newby Gagarin, Jessica Henderson, and Miller. The discussion welcomed cross-conversation from attendees regarding the artists work, exhibition themes, and artistic positioning systems. Co-curated […]

Last week the MFA program wrapped up the 2016 Thesis Proposal Presentations. Each of the 32 graduate candidates presented their progression in the program and proposed a thesis direction to the MCAD community for consideration and response.  Final works will be presented at the upcoming MCAD MFA Thesis Exhibition in May 2016 in our new studio and […]

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Early this February, first-year sculptor Jesse Lentz participated in Collected Residue, a group show in MCAD’s student-run Gallery 148. Jesse’s work, “My Grandmother’s Shadows” was a collection of small and curious objects that remind her of her grandmother, and the witchcraft she prepared to practice. The show  was aptly named. According to their event page, “when […]

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This February, MFA students and alums Liza Dorsey, Preston Drum, Alex Mitchell, Niky Motekallem, Joel Terry, and Peng Wu participated in a Valentine-themed group show at the Northrup King Building. The show was hosted by Chris Nystrom, a longtime friend of the program, in his Studio 359.   The Northrup King Building is home to over 200 tenants, including a creative […]

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Last week five of our MFA candidates, focusing in a variety of disciplines, were lucky enough to meet with visiting artist, Mike Calway-Fagen. Calway-Fagen is a visual artist, writer, and curator based in the Midwest where he teaches at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. The mediums of his work vary from mixed-media paintings, video, photography, […]

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DEMO Project presents “Of This Place” from artists Rachel Jennings, second-year MCAD MFA candidate, and Corrin Smithson McWhirter. The artists developed independent mixed media installation works that were responsive to the site of DEMO Project and presented a collaborative crossover effort in the gallery.  The artists, each with ties to Springfield, have looked to local […]

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Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

MFA Program Overview

MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog

MFA Print Portfolio