Our Students - Who Are They?

Department of Art and Design - Studio Art (MFA)

MFA Studio Arts students

The MFA Program seeks to attract artists of diverse cultures, ethnic backgrounds, geographic derivation, and stages of career development.  Such a mix helps ensure representation of wide points of view and a stimulating atmosphere for critical discourse.  Students have opportunities throughout their studies to exhibit their work -  both in the MFA Gallery on campus and at the completion of their degree at a gallery in New York.

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Afsane Barati

Afsane Barati - 2017

Afsane Barati was born and grew up in Iran. She received her Bachelor of Graphic Design and Master of Painting from Tehran University. She has worked as a visual artist and made urban sculptures. She established her own publishing company in 2011. After working for 10 years she decided to move to the USA (NYC) and extend her perception and knowledge as an artist in a bigger world. Her sculptures and installations help present social issues in society and how ironic many of these issues are.


Brooke Garlick

Brooke Garlick - 2017

Brooke Garlick was born and raised in Northern New Jersey and graduated from Susquehanna University in 2014 with a Bachelors in Psychology. With her background education always present in her mind, Brooke works with a combination of painting and collage to examine family dynamics and the ways that images can be used to develop psychological constructs of the family unit through differing perspectives. Brooke will complete her MFA in Studio Arts from Montclair State University in the spring of 2017.


Anthony Lawler

K. Anthony Lawler - 2017
www.kanthonylawler.com

K. Anthony Lawler received his BA in Art Education from Grand View University in 2015, specializing in painting and figurative drawing. Pursuing an MFA at Montclair State has led him into a practice exploring the borders between art and science. Lawler creates devices/installations to provide a conscious exploration of the body. Through the use of bio-feedback technologies his work shifts involuntary actions of the body (heart beat, brain waves, pulse rate, breathing etc) into voluntary ones. By establishing the gallery experience as one of self exploration, Lawler provides a scaffold to enhance our consciousness, furthering the body understanding itself.


Chris Rivas

Chris Rivas - 2017

Chris Rivas (born Los Angeles, 1993) is a candidate for a MFA in Studio Art at Montclair State University, New Jersey. He received his BFA in Painting in 2015 from San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been featured in several exhibitions in Los Angeles including: NoHo Art Night; Be Bold, MRG Fine Art Gallery; and Identity, MRG Fine Art. Through his biracial heritage, he was raised with a combination of cultural influences that resulted in his fascination with how culture and race are represented. His portraits create a dialogue between the history of traditional portraiture and its relevance in addressing culture hybridity through racial ambiguity today. He portrays the multiracial, millennial subject by manipulating visual conventions found in art history such as light, color, and drapery. Rivas also investigates the complex construction and ambiguity of the self. Specifically, he approaches identity as incorporating different cultural backgrounds, challenging the notion of racial or cultural identity as fixed or immutable.

 

Tracy DiTolla

Tracy DiTolla - 2016
www.tracyditolla.com

Tracy DiTolla has her BA in art history with a minor in studio art from William Paterson University.  She has her MA in art history from Montclair University and is currently back pursuing her MFA.  Her artwork focuses on her experiences within the Catholic religion and building a personal iconography of symbolic objects.  Tracy is greatly influenced by her background in art history, especially Renaissance symbolism.  Other influences include film noir, as well as the artists Ana Mendieta, Kiki Smith, and Cecily Brown.  


Nadia Estela

Nadia Estela - 2018
www.nadia-estela.squarespace.com


Nadia Liz Estela currently lives and works in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband and three children. She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Television, Drama Production with a concentration in International Relations. Nadia also acquired a Fine Arts and Foundation certification at The New School at Parsons. Her interests lie in the exploration of the migrant narrative and uses mixed media as a way to express a diasporic language. She promoted fine arts literacy through guided language integration using V.T.S. Visual Teaching Strategies first adapted and developed at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). As an Artist in Residence at the Montclair Art Museum to the Newark Public Schools under the Federal Department of Education N.A.I.L. Grant (Newark Arts Integration and Literature), she received and implemented VTS for elementary school aged children. As a Masters of Fine Arts student, she hopes to continue to nourish and establish a studio practice that would help define her as an artist while continuing to give back to her community.


kevin k

Kevin Kolankowski - 2018

Born and raised in New Jersey, Kevin studied at Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York, earning a BA in Visual Arts with a minor in Business in 2001. Since then, life has turned by creating adventures in a variety of settings with art and music. Occupationally, he has diverse experiences that include words like AmeriCorps, YouthBuild, alternative high school, mural, bike messenger, SAT-prep, special needs, lifeguard, public schools, community gardens, crisis intervention, Imagineer, adjunct professor, teacher, and parent. Kevin is a continually learning artist, and has had the opportunity to teach Art to students from age 5 – 25 in camps, public schools, and universities. He has lived in New York, Paterson, and North Western, NJ. Currently, he lives in a state of flux. Kevin is open to any ideas, comments, and critiques about…well, anything really.


alex lucca

Alexandra Lucca - 2018

Alexandra received her BA from Montclair State University in Studio Art with a concentration in painting. As a painter, her style is unconventional and vibrantly minimal; not limiting her expression to strictly paint. She prefers to incorporate different, but harmonious types of media to create visual depth and texture. When it comes to application, she expresses in color, line, texture and symmetry at their most basic forms. Alexandra also enjoys featuring the often-ignored canvas by presenting its diversity through weaving. 


Steph Oconner

Stephanie O'Connor - 2018
www.theartisticgiraffe.com


Stephanie's artwork and artistic style is like a Cuban cigar, one of a kind. Her instrument of choice is the paintbrush and she plays with colors like Liberace on the piano. 


i richardson

Imani Richardson - 2018

Imani Richardson earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Morgan State University. Her primary medium is oil paint; however, she also works with chalk pastel and colored pencil. She is interested in exploring the way Black American's, particularly men, are targeted in America. She is also interested in exploring the way slavery dismantled the Black family structure and its impact on Black families today.  When she is not painting, she enjoys reading and writing Young Adult fiction. In the future, she plans to teach art courses on the collegiate level, as well as become a professional practicing artist. 


Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith - 2018
www.collsmith.weebly.com


Colleen Smith was born and raised in Cape May county, New Jersey. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts and English from St. Joseph's University in 2011. She joined the Peace Corps from 2011-2013 where she taught English as a second language in Uzhhorod, Ukraine. After she returned, Smith enrolled at the University of Missouri, Columbia, to pursue artwork as a Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow. She is now pursuing her MFA at Montclair State University and is due to graduate in May 2018. In her work, she draws from a strong background in literature to create narratives of the female experience as framed by myths and fairy tales from Western culture.


Tania Sousa

Tania Sousa - 2018

Tania Sousa is from Newark, New Jersey and received her degree from Mason Gross School of Arts, New Brunswick. She is interested in figure painting and representing the human body through experimental materials.


Madeline Tolins-Schlitt

Madeline Tolins-Schlitt - 2018
www.madelinetolinsschlitt.net

Madeline is an abstract painter and printmaker originally from the New York area. She holds a BFA in Painting and a BA in Art History from Cornell University. Currently she is working in oils on canvas. She worked as a textile designer for many years and learned to use gouache on paper which she still utilizes today. Madeline is exploring issues of color, composition, pattern, pictorial space, and motion in her current MFA work.


Suzannae Tuchman

Suzannae Tuchman - 2018

Suzie always loved making things. In college, she used these skills in the laboratory and earned a BA in Biology from Yeshiva University. While she enjoyed the sciences, her passion lived in expressing herself through art. She completed a BFA in Paper and Print at Montclair State University in 2016 and is currently working towards an MFA. Suzie's work primarily centers upon faith, domesticity, and the nurturing role of women. Using humor and symbolism, she explores the importance of motherhood, and the responsibility of being the material and spiritual caretaker of the home.