Current MFA Students
John Felix Arnold was born in Durham, NC where he currently lives and works. As a multi-disciplinary artist born in the American south, his work confronts and reimagines mythologies which have influenced and informed much of the contemporary world we exist in through a range of both formal and experimental modes of art making. His work explores movement, materiality, polarity, contemplation, catharsis, and interconnectedness, with an inherent interest in repositioning objects and ideas, looking forward from historical research and lived experience He has shown and presented with SFMOMA, Nasher Museum of Art, B.R.I.C. Arts, The Luggage Store Gallery, Aggregate Space, and Tokyo’s Spes-Lab Experimental Art Space. He has attended residencies with Duke University’s Visiting Artist Program, Cassilhaus, and the Peter Bullogh Foundation. He is a Duke University Grant Awardee, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant Awardee, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Grant Awardee, and two time Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant Nominee. His work is in the collections of the Duke University Rubenstein Arts Center and Kai Kai Ki Ki Ltd. He has been published in Juxtapoz Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle’s 96 Hours, Hi-Fructose, Walter Magazine, and is represented in Aggregate Space Gallery’s First 50 Retrospective hardcover publication. He is a former contributing writer for the arts publications Coastal Post, and has written for Border Crossing.
Mark Anthony Brown Jr. is a current MFA student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He primarily works in photography and with photo-based materials although he plans to explore and expand mediums during his time at UNC. His work primarily engages with first-hand experiences as a Black American with interests as it pertains to lineage, aesthetics, vernacular, and modes of expression. In 2022 Mark was an Emerging Lens Fellow at ARTWORKS Projects, through his fellowship he worked on a long-form documentary photo story about a community in Atlanta, Georgia called Forest Cove. From 2021 to 2022 he was an artist-in-residence at Remerge, a community-centered nonprofit in the historically black neighborhood of Sweet Auburn. While in service of his residency he completed a public art project called the ‘Sweet Auburn Family Photo Album.’
Before entering the MFA program at UNC, Molly spent several years in dedication to autonomous organizing around abolition, housing justice, and trans-domesticity in Austin, Texas. Her fiber-based studio practice is influenced in part by the dreams she shared with the unhoused community during that time. Through delighting in color, texture, and materiality, Molly creates narratives that investigate the interrelation between sacrifice and consumption in the domestic imaginary. Her work seeks to articulate a spiritual relationship connecting queer, feminine, and non-human animals as custodians of a flourishing future.
Dominique Muñoz is a Guatemalan-American visual artist whose photographs are grounded in environments reminiscent of his childhood memories, supercharged with imagination. In his current practice, he’s working with photographs, handmade books, printmaking, and found objects. His work explores themes of family, memory, and mysticism of his Mesoamerican ancestors. Dominique was Clark Construction’s first Photographer-in-Residence. He traveled around the country for over a year, documenting the art of building, highlighting the collectivism involved in construction. In 2017 Dominique was awarded his first solo exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. for his project, The Art of Building. His work has since been part of several group exhibitions including Soft Times Gallery (San Francisco, CA), Candela Books & Gallery (Richmond, VA), Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh, PA), and The Curated Fridge (Somerville, MA).
Rebecca Pempek (she/her)
Before entering the MFA program at UNC, Rebecca worked as a teaching fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. Rebecca’s large-scale mixed media works on paper render the body and mind as landscape. This exploration is two-fold: she believes the worsening climate crisis contributes to psychological distress and disorders; additionally, the physical processes of destruction and deterioration of the mind, body, and the natural world emulate one another. At Davidson, she received the Fujita Art Grant and attended several residencies in Iceland, where she studied the relationship between the changing landscape and Icelandic folklore.
Matthew Troyer is a documentary and fine art photographer from Sarasota, Florida. Troyer spent nine years as a combat photographer in the United States Marine Corps, documenting combat operations and training in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Thailand. In 2013 Troyer was selected for and taught photography as the faculty supervisor at the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, Maryland. Creative Quarterly recognized him as one of their top 100 artists (top 25 photographers) in 2018 and 2020. In 2021 he was awarded the Trustee Scholarship in Photography and Imaging at Ringling College of Art and Design. Troyer has recently shown work in galleries in Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin, and multiple publications. His work serves to inform bridging the military-civilian divide by exploring the military experience, combat trauma, and their representations and perceptions in our culture.
Education: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting, 2014
Before entering the MFA program at UNC, Vera worked in New York City as a community artist with Los Muralistas de El Puente, an intergenerational collective that designs and creates community murals, theater sets, protest banners and puppets which tackle social justice issues within the Brooklyn communities of South Williamsburg and Bushwick. At UNC Vera is using many of the skills she learned with Los Muralistas, working with mixed media drawings and installations, puppetry and experimentations in performance, to investigate hierarchies of age and gender, human agency, and the submission and resistance to internal and external forms of control, specifically within the orthodox Jewish community.
Working with textile, paint, found objects, Carson explores the interplay of sculpture and image-making. Her experiences as a farmer and carpenter inform her material sensibilities. Carson’s work responds to and occupies spaces where public and private, wild and domestic meet. Based in Durham, NC, Carson has exhibited at Durham Art Guild galleries, the Duke Rubenstein Center, and in Raleigh at Lump Gallery, Sertoma Arts Center, and Artspace, where she was a Regional Emerging Artist in Residence in 2020.