Meet Our Graduate Students


MFA 2024

Namir Fearce

figure with chains over their face and ropes at a microphone

Namir Fearce is a North Minneapolis born interdisciplinary artist and cultural worker. His studio practice engages experimental film, assemblage, and music under the moniker Blu Bone. Fearce is informed by a constellation of Black Atlantic histories and sites of memory that weave complex emo-political worldscapes in which Black futurity and freedom are conjured. Fearce is currently completing In this Wicked Womb, a film that navigates radical pleasure, intimate determination, and the implications of living in spite of.

Whalen Polikoff

Airbrush painting of a crying person with bald red head and no ears wearing a blue collared shirt and holding a cloth bag


Calvin Stalvig

Three crystalline spirits emerge from the frozen lake. Their bodies are constructed of ice triangles that hold them upright as they brace themselves against the endless wind.

Calvin Stalvig is a transdisciplinary folk artist exploring ritual intimacy, semiotics of nature, and popular pedagogy in collaboration with other humans, species and technology. After 17 years of teaching children, youth, and adults he employs a project-based approach to artmaking driven by curiosity, prophetic intuition, and playful experimentation.

Working in folk craft traditions, he uses everyday materials and symbols to create objects, installations, and time-based experiences that are both familiar and sacred. 

Themes that are the impetus for his work include psycho-somatic pain, September 11, American imperialism, stockholm syndrome, maternal wisdom, ecstatic pleasure, blue-collar labor as sacred vocation, servitude, homosocial desire, hospitality, and moksha.

MFA 2025

Sarah Abdel-Jelil (she/her)

Woman standing in a white room next to a pink orchid with her eyes closed

Sarah Abdel-Jelil a Mauritanian American filmmaker, dancer, and choreographer. "Inspired by my nomadic upbringing, living in eight countries in a multicultural/interfaith household, my work explores the relational aspects of home, movement, and liminal space. My creative practice centers somatic intelligence, which involves instinctually trusting one’s body in space and time, which subsequently allows me to interrogate the embodied nature of the lived experience."

Instagram: @sarahajklmnop • Website:

Justin Allen (he/they)

White fabric on a clothesline catches sunlight between two black buildings

Justin Allen is a photographer and book artist living in Maplewood, MN. "I am passionate about the medium of the artbook and I have self-published four major photobooks of my long-term projects. Recently, I started Make Do Books; taking on the role of book designer, editor, and publisher. Make Do Books was created to provide the opportunity for talented local artists to produce high quality, small editioned artbooks of their work, regardless of technical/educational background or privilege."

Instagram: @justin_d_allen • Website:

Anna Clowser (she/her)

A stack of white bricks made out of paper sits among tall prairie grasses

"I am particularly interested in systems of violence and care in the Midwest within the context of colonialism, agriculture, and their effects on land and culture. As part of my practice, I use textiles, paper, electronics, and performance as tools to create a variety of installation, print, and video work. My work is typically grounded in natural spaces in the Midwest and utilizes labor intensive processes as a way to imbue the objects I create with meaning. The techniques I employ are often skills that have been passed down to me through the women in my family. Sewing, beading, dyeing, and collecting have ancestral significance to me and connect to the history of women’s work and globalized systems of labor. During the process of creating work, I focus on my bodily actions as a method of connecting directly to the experiences and knowledge of women and laborers."

Instagram: @anna.clowser • Website:

Alter Hajek (he/they/she)

Vertical book art of side and front views of human spine drawn on accordioned paper

Alter Hajek writes about devotion and transsexual inter-dimensional embodiment in several mediums, including sculpture, bookmaking and letterpress, analog photography, sound, illustration, and translation. He studied at Simon's Rock College and St. John's College, and received a BA in Literature from Mills College. His favorite drug is general anesthesia.

Twitter: @sin_offering •

Sarah Hubner-Burns (she/her)

Gallery installation of large horizontally striped mural in yellow, red, white, and gray

"I make drawings, paintings, and assemblage. My work uses collage as a foundation for creating images and forms that contain both abstraction and representation, drawing on themes related to mirroring both conceptually and through process. I use found images, personal photographs, and other ephemera in my work and I am very interested in symbolism and metaphysics. My work uses soft interventions and disruptions in recognition, alluding both to the seen and unseen in a visibly constructed and sometimes constrained sense of space."

Instagram: @burnthestudio • Website:

Roya Nazari Najafabadi (she/her)

Expressive portrait of woman with multiple hands clawing at her face

"I want to start introducing myself with a quote from Edward Hopper: 'If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.' I was inspired by this since my artworks are empowered by my innermost emotions. Perhaps color is only one of the stuff with which I have been grown up, and recognize and define it in other artworks. I find my artwork unfinished. They are spontaneous artworks that I try to discover in my proximity and among people I see routinely. By juxtaposing colors, shapes, and things, I translate an inner emotion into an outer one. Color, volume, and emotion are the most relevant properties of my creativity."

Instagram: @royanazari1992 • Website:

Marcus Rothering (he/him)

A white ceramic vessel with intermittent colored beads

"I am a ceramic and fiber artist living in downtown Minneapolis with my poodle Pansy. Being black and queer is a large theme throughout my work expressing the joys and difficulties navigating these identities. My ceramic forms are inspired by the occult as well as African and Haitian folklore, and my rugs are self portraits. I received my B.A. in Studio Art and minor in Digital Media from Metropolitan State University focusing on ceramics and fiber. Hand-built techniques are incorporated with my ceramics, and I use a tufting gun to create my rugs."

Instagram: @marcusrothering • Artist interview via SooVAC:

Mincheng Wang (he/him)

A white hand towel appears to hang fully horizontal from a vertical wood dowel rod

Mincheng Wang is a Chinese ceramic artist now based in Alfred, New York. After completing his BA in Ceramics from Jingdezhen Ceramic University in 2014, he founded his own studio dedicated to expanding his ceramics practice. His practice is informed by his skills as a graphic designer experienced with numerous production softwares and 3D modeling. Wang also studied at Alfred University in New York where he was the recipient of the Miller Portfolio Fellowship. As his practice grows, he continues to rethink and challenge our perceptions of shape and materiality.

Instagram @meandywang • Website:

MFA 2026 

Aja Bond (they/them)

Interior of purple room lined with photos of decay, large brown jars, and a neon yellow skull

"I am an interdisciplinary artist primarily working at the intersection of death/grief and compost/decomposition. I use iterative processes, ritual, feminist science, writing and social practice to explore the potential to be transformed by deepening relationships with the soil and the pervasive losses of the Anthropocene. Catharsis, reciprocity and wonder are the means by which I endeavor to resume a right-sized place in the web. 

"Rich compost can bioremediate depleted and toxified land and water. Through proximity and thoughtful engagement, it can also open human senses to the possibility inherent in death. Having an ongoing somatic engagement with the decomposers opens space for reciprocal relationships with these aspects of our world relegated to the shadows. Death has a secret and it is full of wriggling life."

Website: • Instagram: @thriftmystic

Mikayla Ennevor (she/her/they/them)

An open refrigerator in a dark room reveals blobs of clay falling out onto the floor

"My work centers around the discomfort and beauty rooted in moving through trauma and grief. Clay is a wonderful medium to echo saudade (Portuguese for “a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent”) through. It is honest, malleable, and forgiving. I strive to materialize the inner to the outer, aiming not only to confront, but to offer comfort and healing.

"As of late, I have been drawn to leaving my work unfired, documenting the work wet. The ephemeral nature of unfired clay, allows me to create, and then, let go. It’s meditative to work this way. I never try to force or attempt to control, my intention is to move with the clay, respond to how it responds to me. Thus, there is never an end image of the work I have in mind rather a response to the material then and there."

Instagram: @mikayla_ennevor

Kayla Fryer (she/her)

Purple painting of a boy in tank top against yellow sky

"I focus primarily on the emotions and expressions of people in the Black Diaspora, mainly painting portraits of Black men and boys. The use of portraiture is significant because this was historically reserved for white subjects. I display vulnerability as a strength in order to dismantle outdated cultural norms within the Diaspora. With the use of a limited palette of vibrant and electrifying colors, I confront the sensitivity with boldness and intention in the Black community. My hope is that my artwork invites others to do the same, specifically to allow space in the Diaspora to heal from collective traumas."

Instagram: @kaylajfryerart

Mai Tran (she/her)

Black and white woodcut print of a vase with flowers

"Born and raised in Vietnam, I moved to Minnesota as an international student in 2015. I hold an MA and a BFA  with a concentration in Printmaking/Photography from Minnesota State University-Mankato. I am strongly interested in the connections between cultures, mythology, history, as well as human and animal interactions. Through my woodcut prints, I showcase dream-like landscapes, Vietnamese legends and customs blended with American culture to create unique visual narratives. ​

"Elements such as watermelon, Vietnamese café phin, traditional clothing, mythical animals, the Ly dynasty dragon and ceramics, and the Vietnamese Nom script speak to an almost forgotten culture. In contrast, the carno-lotus (cheeseburger) plant, Walleye, Bobcat, and winter scenery reference life in the Midwest. By combining elements from the two cultures, I build parallel worlds where all living things can sustain and value each other’s differences — a place without barriers of geography, race, gender, class, or species that allows us to define our own uniqueness and purpose in life. 

"My woodcut prints hold true to traditional printmaking practices but deliver new narratives, linking one culture to another."

Website: • Instagram: @mmai.tran

Jenna Youngwood (they/them)

Painted view out a car window to dark mountains and a rainbow circle in the center

"My work investigates the inextricable link between painting and drawing, and explores my native Upper Midwestern landscape under a contemporary lens. I am influenced by humanity's short time on Earth, extreme weather, our ever-changing landscape, and solitude. The intimacy of drawing in a sketchbook is something I want to capture within my paintings, creating mystery and atmosphere by translating drawings and juxtaposing them onto larger-scale surfaces including canvas, cotton, muslin, and paper. My lifelong influences include two-dimensional sources such as animated film, comic books, and my own marker and ink drawings. I received my BFA from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee in Painting and Drawing."