Alumni MFA

Whitney Trisler Causey

As an artist I seek to explore through the medium of paint the world around me. Living in a society of the digital age dominated by social media, it is becoming more difficult to distinguish between the boundaries of the physical world and the digital. This blurred boundary line has brought about questions concerning the construction of identity.

Through the medium of paint I am confronting and exploring the ‘selfie’ obsessed population. The process of painting provides myself the time needed to slow down the fast paced world, allowing reflection and connections to be made during the representation of my subjects. Traditional portrait painting is responding to the application of new technologies, which is reshaping our understanding, and reading of the face.  My work deals with the transitory nature of self-perception and specifically questions digital media’s relationship to personal identity.

Zachary McCauley

My family bought our first desktop computer when I was twelve. It was a second hand machine from some relatives I don’t remember and I gave more hours of my life to that glowing screen than I did to my bed. During a time in my life of isolation and self-discovery I shaped an identify for myself through countless websites, forum avatars, mmorpg accounts, and deleted browsing histories.

In these new works I utilize my digital camera and laptop as the springboard for exploration within my own personal life as I mirror the ever changing landscape of digital photography with my own ever changing understanding of personal identity. I am examining my own life through various modes of machine vision and computational photography, seeing how computers see the world and working within these new territories. Through these explorations I am able to reinterpret and rebuild elements of my personal life through time spent physically and digitally.

Megan Landis

Relationships shape our existence. My work explores social connections and the positive and negative effects these connections have on an individual. The use of stabilizing materials, such as latex and clay, embodies the search for control in situations that are uncontrollable. The experience of yearning for community is explored through the accumulation of repeating forms in my sculptural and installation work.

Tess Stickney

In my dreams my life includes a closet with only the trendiest clothes
of the season, an eight-carat pear-shaped pink sapphire and diamond dinner ring, a kitchen full of As-Seen-On-TV appliances, and baskets full of puppies and kittens in costumes. I know the romance of these objects will never be at my fingertips, nor do I think I would truly enjoy them if they were in my possession. Instead, my closet and bedroom floor are full of clothes I bought for a fraction of their original price, my favorite kitchen item is my crown-themed measuring spoons, and the only pets I own live happily on the internet under a Pinterest board called “Really, Really Cute Animals.” My life is certainly less glamorous than my dreams, but what is more exciting to me is the thrill I receive in buying, DIY-ing, and collecting cheap variations of my fantasies. I am a consumer, and my desires, as well as those of like-minded women, inspire me as an artist.

Hannah Cooper McCauley

A Singular Sense of Urgency

My father’s job as a Baptist minister afforded me an early understanding of the notion of faith as both a mysterious and steadfast component of my world. My adolescent life often seemed to be invaded by events similar to those I was taught in the Bible—too strange to believe, but real all the same. I befriended a surly armadillo on the construction property between the church and our parsonage home. I burst my head open on a church pew and left a sea of red in the lush carpet below, my father pausing mid sermon to carry my limp body out the front doors. I spent most of my formative years playing in and around church property, skinning my knees in the parking lot and exploring hidden crannies underneath the baptistry.

When I was 17, I experienced the strangest event of all, the beginning of which was not unlike a miracle you would read about in the book of Matthew. I learned that I had a hereditary, degenerative eye condition called optic nerve head drusen. My eyes are unable to dispose of waste properly, causing gradual visual field loss and sometimes, eventual blindness. Unlike a miracle, however, there was no one to rub mud in my eyes and make the ailment disappear.

This ongoing body of work addresses the uncertainty I am facing as I transition into adulthood while longing to sustain a childlike sensibility. As I face new challenges, I long for the sanctuary of my adolescence, and through the act of making photographs explore the question of how to maintain a sense of wonder as my own life empties itself of the magic I once knew. Through investigation of family history, mythology, and the notion of memory as interpretation, I aim to demystify my past, satisfying this curiosity with the opacity of a photograph.

 Elaine Gulliot

My design philosophy is to have fun and explore a variety of hand-made elements, but above all to provide a logical design solution for clients. Having fun and exploring mediums helps work maintain a fresh feel in a saturated market of vector graphics. It is necessary to back up design choices with research and logic so clients know their needs are being considered thoughtfully from every angle. I will continue to challenge myself and push the boundaries of my abilities to become the most capable and thoughtful designer I can be.

Jacob Newton

My work focuses on a fascination with using interfaces and the subliminal guidance created by Design that leads to unique, individual experiences. Subtleties in interactive design connect directly to the subconscious of the viewer. Symbolism is used as a roadmap into one’s mind to delivers complex information in a modular form. Being involved in a highly driven commercial market of design allows me to connect with the consumer on a personal and subconscious level.

Mary Dunn

I have an innate desire to visually record moments in time. This impulse manifested first as figurative drawings and paintings. Today, instead of recording literal moments, my work more often references something happening internally, its roots in the thoughts that occupy me daily as opposed to scenes positioned before my eyes. The external has also become a source, as I explore and highlight social or cultural phenomena through artmaking. While working mimetically remains an important part of my practice, much of my art has moved toward abstraction. The physicality of the body remains an important factor in my current work, although it may only be suggested.

The contemporary revitalization of craft media – particularly crochet, which has been traditionally practiced by women in the home – has influenced me to engage in a more craft- or textile-based approach. Crochet stirs memories of time spent in quiet moments with family and friends, and references a history of service and gift-giving. Textiles indicate clothing, invite touching, and imply protection and warmth. The action of crochet is also metaphorical – many loops suggest a community of individuals who, together, make a whole. Repetitive, tedious action leaves a record of invested time and labor.

Working in crochet has allowed me to move out from the wall, away from illusionistic space and into actual space. Formal arrangements of everyday objects or materials bring to mind the stuff of the real world; taken out of context, they begin to transform, conveying meaning beyond their function. Not only is my art made from commonplace things, I create it in my home, a fundamentally domestic space. Working surrounded by the effects of daily activity, my life and art become inseparable. Although some pieces are three-dimensional, I continue to pull from my drawing and painting background. Colored yarn replaces paint; string is a twisting, looping line, connecting back to a history of artists and craftspeople, as well as to my own creative beginnings.

Rachel Spencer

I am creating a series of narrative photographs in reaction to the stimuli shaping women today. I am particularly interested in the seemingly insignificant yet influential comments that change how women feel about themselves. Each photograph depicts a story specific to one individual that addresses greater truths applicable to many people.

The process begins by inviting a woman to participate in the project. Each model completes a questionnaire concerning specific events in their lives and the influences that came afterward. I build narratives based upon their stories that are shared with me. It takes strength for a women to admit what her insecurities are. The strength of character and courage that women display by being open with their vulnerabilities is what continues to draw me to this subject.

Through this photographic series I am able to come to terms with my own insecurities.

Jenna Fincher

My work is meant to be both comforting and disquieting, nostalgic and satisfying, between the real and unreal. I am interested in transient experiences to places between reality and fantasy. Through use of paper and thread I create an artificial landscape of cascading leaves. The presentation of the installation creates an illusion, one where the shadows are more realistic than the leaves that cast them. There is an inner structure in my work that is representative of stability and refers to home, security, and sanity. Thread is used as a way to methodically and meticulously stitch experiences and memories together. I aim to create a reflective space caught in a state of hyperreality. Notions of the sublime are present through tension and wonder, and through beautiful yet ominous nature.

Yijun Yao

When I was living in China, I did not strongly feel the influence of Chinese culture on me. It is like the air in everyday life. Since moving to the United States, I deeply feel the culture shock of free and vigorous American culture. The idea of introducing Chinese Lowercase in my work comes from my experience of living here. I found there is some misunderstanding of Chinese culture, which has become a funny and meaningful topic for me to explore in my works.

As a designer, I am very interested in a humorous American style of illustration and graphic design. I began to introduce a vision of Chinese culture to my American friends through illustrations, drawn using a wacom tablet, which are enjoyable to make. Because of my interior design background, I spend a lot of time drawing trees, houses, furniture, and other objects from daily life. This way of drawing shows my ideas to the viewer, and will encourage more people to understand my culture. My purpose is not to teach people the true Chinese culture; I hope this is a sharing and exchange, as a conversation between new friends.

Meredith McGregor

My collage work is a combination of my love for storytelling and my fascination with contrasting images. It is influenced by mysteries surrounding my family history, my family’s relationships with each other, and what it means to be from the Deep South. I have chosen to work with collage because I would like for my pieces to have a surreal and fabricated quality. The process of finding, cutting, and tearing items allows me to have a wide range of color and texture as I bring my stories to life. I piece together my collages just as I piece the stories together in my mind from multiple sources and influences.