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Graduate Student Send-Off

Highlights of some of the graduating students from MICA's wide range of graduate programs

Posted 03.01.14 by mica communications

With top ranked advanced programs, MICA is not only recognized for its quality education, but also for its skilled students who are excelling in their fields. Highlighted are a few graduate students who are making their mark on the art world.

Ali Ahmed (Design Leadership)

Ali Ahmed '14 worked as a human resources executive and educator in Baltimore area educational institutions. Successful in his career, Ahmed wanted a graduate program that would enhance and expand his knowledge through new challenges and opportunities. Possessing an undergraduate degree in chemistry and Spanish, he was intrigued by MICA's involvement in the M.B.A./M.A. Design Leadership program.

"I have been able to see how much MICA has grown into a top tier art and design school," Ahmed said.

The program, a partnership between MICA and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, provides a non-traditional M.B.A. curriculum and teaches design inspired approaches to business challenges. An important feature of the program is the creativity that can be infused with business.

"You can study innovation, creativity, or design; you can find yourself anywhere-that level of ambiguity is pretty nice," he said. Ahmed will be among the first graduates of the program that was launched in 2012, and he plans to be a consultant.

Image Caption: Students in the MBA/MA in Design Leadership program. 

Hong Wei (GD PBac, Graphic Design)
Hong Wei '12 '14 fell in love with American typography as a student in Jiangsu, China. She came to the United States to earn a MICA Graphic Design Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. Wei now had access to the many typestyles that she once dreamed of playing with, which were not easily available in her home country, and numerous opportunities to explore "the elegance of typefaces in English," she said.

During her first month at MICA, she went to the Decker Library everyday. "There were so many awesome books in the library," Wei said. "My teachers were able to share more new information with me." She continued to learn the value and process of critiques and collaborations with faculty, visiting artists and peers in the MFA in Graphic Design program.

The designer, illustrator, and photographer utilized many resources on and off campus for her thesis project, Vegetable Anatomy, which captures the beautiful color and structure inside of plants through MRI technology, a remarkable combination of science and art that also employed laser cutters in the dFab Studio, printing press in the Dolphin Press and Print and digital embroidery machines in the Fiber Department.

Image Caption: Detail of artwork from Vegetable Anatomy by Hong Wei '12 '14.

Allana Clarke (Mount Royal School of Art)
Allana Clarke '14 sought an MFA program where she could hone her skills and be equipped with the necessary tools to become a professional artist. "I wanted to further perfect my craft, develop a solid critical background for my work and be in an environment where everyone is an artist," Clarke said.

In fall 2012, the New Jersey native enrolled in the Mount Royal School of Art, a multidisciplinary program where she is thriving as an artist. "I felt this was the best program for me, and although I had a background in photography, I knew that was not the only medium I wanted to use to explore my ideas," she explained.

Clarke uses diverse materials and mediums to express her ideas. "I now have the ability to experience and talk about art that is outside of my primary medium," she said.

Clarke is a recipient of the 2013 MICA Community Endowed Fellowship for the Mount Royal School of Art. While at MICA, she has also had her work published and been featured in a collaborative exhibition at Gallery CA titled Texture of the Drift, which dealt with "personal allegory and the ambiguity of the image."

"I am always interacting with artists that are working in a multitude of media," she said. The graduate student looks forward to artist residences after Commencement, allowing her the opportunity to travel and experience different places.

Image Caption: Allana Clarke '14, Rope: A Performance (detail), performance.

Vivian Loh (Art Education)
Vivian Loh's '14 story is one that crosses continents. After teaching for 17 years, the Singapore-based arts educator wanted to explore new ideas and different perspectives.

She decided to further her education at an art college in the United States. "I wanted an overseas education, a new experience and the opportunity to interact with teachers from a different system," Loh said.

MICA's M.A. in Art Education, an online, low-residency degree program for experienced K-12 artist-educators, allowed her to study while continuing her position as head of the arts department at St. Joseph's Institution, the third oldest secondary school in Singapore. "I have a family with two school-age children, thus I was also looking for a program that did not require me to leave the country for an entire year," she explained.

The fine arts graduate of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand is elated to have had the opportunity to reconnect with studio work, saying, "I feel that making art again will help me in my profession," and adding, "The master's program has stretched me in so many ways."

Loh has been able to share expertise, specifically her research on collaborative inquiry in the art classroom, with current colleagues and school administration, as well as conduct additional study with her students back home.

Image Caption: Vivan Loh '14, Untitled, sculpture, Balsa wood. 

Tracey Parker (LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting)
With graduation near, Tracey Parker '14 has been preparing herself for life after college. Though her journey to Baltimore is short-term, her experiences at MICA have been far reaching.

The Michigan native studied studio art as an undergraduate student and chose the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting for graduate school because of its reputation in the contemporary arts world. She was also drawn to the College's inclusive and collaborative community.

"The faculty were the most important reason I decided to attend the College, along with the caliber of visiting artists and critics," Parker said. "I wanted to find a community where I could get a wide variety of thoughts on my work."

Through critique and discussion with her peers, faculty and guest artists, Parker has sharpened her skills as an artist amd improved her ability to talk about her work.

While in the program, Parker was able to pursue a passion of hers, teaching. "I've had valuable experiences teaching, in addition to learning from MICA's undergraduate faculty members."

The 2012 Hoffberger Scholarship recipient hopes to become a professor after graduation, move to New York, and continue as a practicing artist.

Image Caption: Tracey Parker '14, Cucumber Slices (detail), oil on canvas.

Edgar Reyes (Community Arts) 
Edgar Reyes' '14 art mirrors his upbringing as a male immigrant youth in an inner city. He experienced the jarring impact that violence and racial tension can have on a community.

Now living and working in Baltimore while in MICA's M.F.A. in Community Arts program, Reyes has been dedicated to projects in the African American and Latino populated East Baltimore. His Open Hearts project is a collaboration with Baltimore United Viewfinders and CASA de Maryland that promotes cross-cultural sensitivity.

Specifically, this project serves middle- and high school-age youth and intends to broaden their perspectives on race and cultures through the use of digital art. Youth learn about their peers, as well as themselves, as they explore creativity, critical thinking and leadership.

"This project is helping to unite this community, bringing residents together and changing the perspective people have of one another," Reyes said.

"The art we create, posters, T-shirts, and installation, are a reflection of our shared experiences and bond as African American and Latino communities."

Image Caption: Students of Open Hearts wearing designs made during the project.

Vincent Purcell (Social Design)
Vincent Purcell '14 started studying computer engineering during his undergraduate studies. However, he began to explore classes on art, culture, social change and technology. Purcell decided to change his program and received a degree in media arts and studies. Purcell explained, "I got really interested in cognitive psychology and understanding how the way we use media influences the way we behave."

Purcell continued his design education, enrolling in MICA's M.A. in Social Design, a one-year, interdisciplinary, practice-based graduate program.

"It was this perfect storm since the program was recently developed and there was also a lot of energy behind MICA's Center for Design Practice," Purcell said. "Social design is an exploding field that I saw potential in and decided to be part of," he added.

He began work in the Southeast Baltimore City neighborhood, McElderry Park.

Purcell collaborated with residents, churches  and neighborhood associations to unite a divided community.

For his thesis, Purcell started BOOM! Academy, which focused on providing opportunities to persons 18 to 35 years of age in McElderry Park through workshops on entrepreneurship. He received an Office of Community Engagement grant for the workshops.

"I have been able to hone my skills of human-centered design, and also able to be satisfied with what I'm doing."

Image Caption: Residents and stakeholders of McElderry Park met to discuss issues in their community and solutions they can develop in the first BOOM! Academy workshop. Photo by Vincent Purcell '14.

Sarah Jacoby (Illustration Practice)
Sarah Jacoby '14 has accomplished a lot as an illustrator, and she's showing no signs of slowing down. Her curriculum vitae boasts a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators and participation in the organization's Illustrators 56, which featured the world's leading contemporary illustrators.

While at MICA, Jacoby has collaborated with the Maryland Transit Administration on the Words on Wheels competition and Stereohype, a London-based apparel company, just to name a few. She has exhibited in China and London, as well as the United States, with work currently being shown at the Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery in Philadelphia.

Jacoby sought a program that focused on entrepreneurship, with a distinctive vision, and leading in illustration education--MICA's M.F.A. in Illustration Practice addressed her needs.

"MICA is a wonderful school because of the close-knit community here," Jacoby said. "MICA also supports a lot of experimentation, which has been significant for me and has helped me explore textile work."

Her love of picture books was cultivated while interning at New York-based publishing companies Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Schwartz & Wade Books. But her knack for writing is evident, too. She has had her writing published in several blogs and currently writes for Book By Its Cover. Jacoby's future seems to be equally as active. "I am hoping to launch a stationery company, sustain a freelance career and publish books," she explained.

Image Caption: Sarah Jacoby '14, Autumnal Scene, mixed media.