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Interdisciplinary MFA Completes Residency in New Mexico

The Interdisciplinary MFA program recently completed its residency in New Mexico, where the cohort worked with renowned Santa Clara Pueblo ceramicist Roxanne Swentzell. They camped on her land, learned how to dig clay, made hand-built seed pots and fired the finished works in a pit.


“The New Mexico residency exemplifies what we do best in this grad program: provide opportunities for artists to participate deeply in the culture of sites in the Americas, while giving them the professional experience to thrive during this period of rapid changes in our field as well as the world at large,” explains Carol Padberg, director of the Interdisciplinary MFA program.

carol padberg, director of the interdisciplinary MFA program

“I dug my hands in the earth for the first time and found the dirt that called to me,” says Sto ’19. “We followed the Pueblo diet, ground the corn and planted the seeds to a deeper understanding of place and our connection with the land. We followed the water to the acequias of San Fidel with Seed Broadcast and entered into the folds of a community whose water is gold and whose philosophy of sharing we could all learn from. I soaked up so much and am still processing it all as I carry these experiences with me, back home into my daily life and into my art practice. These residencies embed you with so much that ends up growing into your work in unpredictable ways.”

Sto, MFA candidate in the Interdisciplinary MFA program

Following their time in Santa Clara, students moved to Albuquerque, where they exhibited their work with the New Mexico art community. During the last week they worked with the artist collective Seed Broadcast, in the rural community of San Fidel. There, they helped clean the acequias, or water channels, that are used in these high desert farming communities, and researched seed sovereignty issues and the biological diversity of seeds. The students are now collaborating on their contribution to Seed Broadcast’s upcoming exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum.

ceramics made by the Nomad/9 cohort in New Mexico 

“These experiences are rare in graduate studies for artists, and our students were delighted to have access to experiences that many New Mexicans may rarely encounter,” says Padberg. “Our graduate program is built on an ethic reciprocity and regenerative relationships that activate the public mission of the University of Hartford.”


“This residency has been an amazing chance to connect with different communities in New Mexico that are difficult to access as an individual,” adds Leslie Sobel MFA ’19. “We've learned so much about the traditions of Native American and old Spanish communities and how they intersect in a very special way here. Keeping old ways alive feels both modern and very traditional here in a way one doesn't see in most of the United States.”


The Interdisciplinary MFA program will be on campus this summer to present an exhibition in Joseloff Gallery. Keep an eye on our events page for more details, and follow us on social media for daily updates.

More Spring Updates

Spring at the Hartford Art School demands a few extra hours on campus for students, faculty and staff! It starts with the registration process for fall semester. This year we had our first ever “Advising Day” on March 29th. The entire faculty gathered in and around Koopman Commons for a full day to meet and help students with their course schedules. It was a good example of our collective community and will be replicated in the fall for spring registration.

Students begin preparing for their senior thesis exhibitions as soon as spring semester begins. Fundraisers toward the shows appear in our lobby–we had one selling bubble tea and one selling homemade ice cream this spring! Our curator and director of the galleries, Dr. Ricardo Reyes, meets with each curricular group for exhibition installation training. Seventy-five senior thesis presentations in two galleries within one month is a remarkable feat! It’s worth three visits to campus to witness each exhibition in the Silpe and Joseloff Galleries.

The Regents Honor Award dinner was held on April 5. Regents’ Honor Awards are presented to the highest-ranking juniors, and to seniors who not only have among the highest GPA's, but also who have demonstrated excellence in scholarly and creative works in each of the colleges awarding the baccalaureate degree. VCD seniors Paulina Modestow and Alyssa Pentrancosta were introduced by VCD Professor Andy Wollner, who they chose to represent them at the event. In addition to the recognition, Paulina and Alyssa become our student commencement speakers at the Hartford Art School ceremony on May 19. Junior awardees are Daniell Arotta, an illustration and painting dual-major, and Kristen Ortega, an illustration major.

The Undergraduate Research and Creativity Colloquium sponsored by the University of Hartford Honors Program took place on April 18. Four HAS students publicly presented their honors research papers: Rowan Ferreira on Designing Apps for Learning Needs; Frank Gordon-Quiroga on Francois I and the Triumph of Intellectualism; Ying Ye on Translating US Culture Through Sculpture, and Teresa Cardona on the Italian Renaissance Impact on Contemporary Art Practices.

All this activity leads up to studio clean up days followed by commencement. This year Professor Caroline Woolard will receive the Belle Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize at the main ceremony and diplomas will be awarded at the Hartford Art School college ceremony between Taub Hall and Stanley Sculpture Center (weather permitting!). It is the cumulation of hard work and dedication on all fronts. The pride and joy expressed by the graduates and their families is a timeless reminder of why we exist. Congratulations to all!


Dean's Update: April 2019

I am pleased to announce that Professor Bill Thomson has been elected by his peers for a three-year term as the Chair of Viscom (Visual Communications; formerly Applied Arts), and I would like to extend my appreciation to Professor John Nordyke who has served in the position for the past two terms. The chairs continue to play an important role in HAS faculty governance and leadership.


Last week we learned that Associate Professor Caroline Woolard has been awarded the Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize for 2019. The prize includes a cash award, and she will be eligible for the Ribicoff Professorship in three years. She also will be recognized on stage at the main commencement ceremony on May 19th.  


Alumnus Mark Dion '86 has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and is opening an exhibition of eight outdoor works on May 4 at Storm King Sculpture Center in New York. This is the first exhibition to unite Dion’s signature folly works into a major survey.


Finally, alumna Judith McElhone '88 MFA '94, Executive Director of Five Points Gallery in Torrington, has been named an “Art Hero” by the Connecticut Office of the Arts. A celebration of all nine Art Heros will be held at Infinity Music Hall on May 1 at 6 p.m..


Congratulations to all!

Dean Nancy M. Stuart, Ph. D.

Mark Dion '86 Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation recognized Mark Dion '86 as one of its 2019 fellows in the field of fine arts. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s ninety-fifth competition.

The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the unique characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, forty-nine scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, seventy-five different academic institutions, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows.

Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, is enthusiastic about the Fellows in the class of 2019: “It’s exceptionally satisfying to name 168 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

Photography MFA to Show Work in Berlin

Generously hosted by C/O Berlin, the International Limited-Residency MFA in Photography program at Hartford Art School presents Fruit Taped to Trees, a pop-up exhibition comprised of work by ten photographers who are currently pursuing their Master of Fine Arts degree. The exhibition uses a poem written by Anna Moschovakis as a catalyst for interpretation of how a mundane encounter can shape our experience of time and subconsciously drift our perspective.

The collective photographs raise questions about linear existence and how memory blurs our perspective of time. Fruit Taped to Trees plays with the shifting tenses of past, present, and future as a response to Moschovakis’ play on causality and philosophical musings. As Moschovakis invites the reader to reevaluate their relationship to time and the personal pursuit of perfection, some photographs respond to the ceaseless undertaking of living in the present while others, examine the alteration of memories through physical repair or destruction. The picking of ripe fruit cannot be undone, similar to our hollow attempts to revise history. Yet, there is always the anticipation of new growth, and rising expectations, for life defies the ephemeral nature of time.

Curated by Robert Lyons, Director of the Hartford MFA program, this exhibition will include works by Chantal Anderson, Dean Berner, Rodrigo Guttiérez, Jenica Heintzelman, Erin Hoffstetter, Jiwoong Jang, Jenny Sae Un Kim, Juliana Novello, Dillon Burns Roberts, and Carolina Saez.