Current MFA Students
Educational History: 2019 BFA, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts; 2017 Design Certificate, School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts
Minoo Emami grew up living through the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s and her work reflects the impact of the violence of that war through memories, tangible artifacts, and altered experiences. Objects, drawings, video, and paintings express the many contradictions of the war’s aftermath; a mixture of wounding and healing, hope and despair, isolation and intimacy. Through the portrayal and utilization of used prostheses, Minoo Emami hopes to transform the harsh realities of war into objects of beauty.
Emami’s recent drawings continue her interest in the body. In this project she makes visible the relationship between power and the female body and how in some cultures women are controlled through their clothing.
Minoo Emami exhibits her work internationally and has published two catalogues, one in 2007(Iran) and another in 2012(Kurdistan-Iraq), She is honored for her volunteer participation in art shows by UNHCR and WFP in Iran.
Educational History: Auburn University, BFA Studio Art (Printmaking), 2015
Cassidy has climate anxiety, and her work reflects it. By using materials and language that call attention to climate destruction—as well as leaving art in public spaces to function as interventions—Cassidy hopes to encourage recognition of one’s own participation in the structures that led to our climate emergency and understanding of the way those in power point the blame to the powerless.
Before coming to Chapel Hill, Cassidy lived in Nashville and worked at Hatch Show Print. She received the Incubator Award Creative Research Grant from UNC Libraries in 2018.
Educational History: 2013 Master of Divinity, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA; 2010 Bachelor of Arts in Art, Furman University, Greenville, S.C.; 2008 Study Abroad in Art, The University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art,
Sally Ann McKinsey is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher working in sculpture, video, and performance. Most recently, she has called Atlanta, GA and Richmond, VA home. With a background in ceramics, Sally Ann also teaches workshops in wheel-throwing and is the co-creator of Utilities Included, an artist collective, exhibition space, and small editions publisher in Chapel Hill.
Alena Mehić was born in Zavidovići, Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1995 and immigrated to Nashville, Tennessee with her family in 1997. Her work examines memory, nostalgia, the immigrant experience, and the effects of propaganda and war on the generations of a fragmented former Yugoslavia. She utilizes drawing, painting, printmaking, and fiber, gathering inspiration from family photos and stories, socialist posters, and the cultural role of “ručni rad” (handiwork). Referencing history, literature, tradition, and news media, she hopes to highlight the differing political attitudes among the citizens of a departed state as well as the trauma they carry.
Educational History: University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. B.F.A., Interdisciplinary Art Studies, 2017
Devon Smith better known as Vonnie Quest or Vonnie (b. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1991) is an Interdisciplinary Documentary Artist, whose work considers the various ways that ingenuity manifest in everyday life. Working in various material and mediums, Quest situates his work within the sphere of collage, documentary, and experimental cinema practices. Influenced by Family history, Surrealism, and Hip Hop, he makes things that site the methods of these disciplines while building community and offering a transformative experiences for his audience. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Interdisciplinary Art studies. His films have been featured in group exhibitions and film festivals both nationally and internationally. He has shown work at the Milwaukee Film Festival, Milwaukee Short Film Festival, Gallery 400 in Chicago, IL, Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC, The Unseen Festival in Denver, Colorado, Kennilworth Square East Studios in Milwaukee, WI, Var Gallery and Studios in Milwaukee, WI, The Annual Heritage Film Festival in Baltimore Maryland, and The National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C.
He is currently working on an interdisciplinary art project and documentary about the life and death of his maternal grandmother, Mae Ethel Turner. When he is not making work, he is spending time with his wife and two children in Durham, North Carolina. In his spare time, he travels and visits local thrift, record, and book stores.
Chloé Rager makes sculptures, performances, and photographs that are critically engaged with the built environment. Through investigations of material culture, her artworks reveal the underlying institutional and socioeconomic forces that shape our urban landscapes. Rager received a BFA in Sculpture, with concentrations in Art History and Anthropology, from the University of Florida. She has shown her work in museums and galleries across the U.S.’s eastern coast, including the Mint Museum and Atlantic Center for the Arts, among others. She is the co-founder of two North Carolina-based artist-run spaces, FOAM and Block House. Rager is currently an MFA candidate and teaching fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Krysta’s work interrogates how both natural and “man-made” materials or landscapes activate altered states and spiritual experiences. Krysta Sa has worked as a caregiver and group facilitator and this experience has informed her art-making. Sa researches various alternative health modalities, self-help strategies, the ecological, and the occult. Using video, her body, and objects to create sensory installations, Sa explores transcendence versus commodification. Sa’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Winnipeg Underground Film Festival.
Educational History: BA 2011, Economics and English, University of Florida
I work side by side with my identical twin brother. We use B&W 16mm film mainly- a high contrast analog medium. Film to us is warm, raw, gritty, and real whereas video can seem cold, new, sterile, and artificial. B&W is a personal choice based in spiritual practice because of its ability to visually breakdown my ingrained Catholic sensibilities of right and wrong, good and bad, black and white; the gray scale is a constant reminder of everything in between. Our films have screened in over 50 film festivals from Canada to India to Japan, won six awards including Best Experimental Film at the Indie Grits Film Festival, written about in Joel Schlemowitz’s recent book, “Experimental Filmmaking and the Motion Picture Camera: An Introductory Guide for Artists and Filmmakers,” published in the Ohio State Journal of Film.
We also co-founded the Haverhill Experimental Film Festival that ran for six years in Massachusetts and influenced the state to recognize downtown Haverhill as a significant cultural district. In Durham, North Carolina, we started UNEXPOSED, a roaming microcinema showing experimental and avant-garde films. Eventually, we tried out a brick and mortar venue in downtown East Durham where we hosted filmmakers from around the country, local and traveling bands, local hip hop dance parties, gallery artists, moonshine drinkers, etc. After the end of the venue, we began Single Frame, a yearly screening series recognizing experimental documentary shorts at the same time as the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is bringing in Industry oriented feature documentaries.
Emily Hobgood Thomas is an artist from Morehead City, North Carolina. By investigating the effects of tourism in Carteret County, North Carolina, she makes photographs and collages that explore the conceptual dynamics of landscape and the environment. Thomas’s interests include the local history of her home, the ways in which wasteful living impacts others, and finding ways to engage her community through environmental activism. The work that she makes focus on concrete questions that determine our existence as consumers of the land. Thomas is influenced by artists such as Joel Sternfeld, Frank Harmon, and Ansel Adams. Her goal is to be an observant local voice that probes the consumer effects of the landscape that she considers to be her home.
When Thomas is not making her own work, she works as a Teaching Fellow for UNC-Chapel Hill. Her focuses are in Color Theory and Drawing.
She currently lives and works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Emily will graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill with an MFA in Studio Art in 2020.
Educational History: 2014 BA in Painting from Semnan University of Art
I am an artist who uses a wide range of materials and media in my work including, drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media installation. whose body is an inspirational core. Art is a major and inseparable part of my life. When I was five years old I had no specific perception of male and female anatomical differences, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the forms, the human anatomy, and the sketches in my father’s drawing books in his library. This encounter was the very turning point for me to become aware of my own body and to start looking closely at my female sexual organs. I grew up in Iran where I was taught to suppress my feelings and desires.
My work is inspired by my body, sexuality, ideological structures, and truth. The process of my work begins by thinking, imaging, and imagining different issues that are directly linked to my physical presence and my soul. My art seeks to visualize my thoughts and build a symbolic language with which I can learn about myself as well as the world. I generate forms, elements, and material in order to express a particular concept or determine a situation for my audience. I create to learn. I create to engage my mind about different questions I have. For me, the process of working on a piece is like a journey into my self.