Department and Alumni News

Associate professor Sheli Petersen with TWU graphic design students at Alcon's creative services site tour.
Associate professor Sheli Petersen with TWU graphic design students at Alcon's creative services site tour.
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TWU Visual Arts chair featured in 20 page ART Habens special edition spread

Vagner Mendonça Whitehead, intermedia professor and chair of the TWU Department of Visual Arts, was recently featured in a 20 page special edition spread published by ART Habens Art Review. Whitehead discusses his career, process and works, including his current Children in Cages project on Instagram.

Graduating senior Olivia Arratia participates in NFL's 'Women's Empowerment Draft'

Graduating senior and Terry Scholar Olivia Arratia was one of 32 women from 20 universities who participated in the recent nationally recorded  NFL Women’s Empowerment Draft of amazing women in history. Olivia and her counterparts wore a portrait of iconic women leaders on an NFL-style jersey, and each described the life and contributions of the woman featured on her jersey. Olivia paid tribute to Houston-born Selena, the “Queen of Tejano music.” 
“It was a powerful experience,” said Olivia. “I hope this inspires women of all ages to achieve their dreams and fight for what is right. And what better school to represent (in this national project) than Texas Woman's University.”

Science and art amid a crisis

TWU chair of visual arts, Vagner Whitehead, Ph.D., and chair of biology, Juliet Spencer, Ph.D., weigh in on the challenges and triumphs their students and faculty have experienced while transitioning their labs and workshops online. “I expect to see breakthroughs for people who are restrained by the notion of what art should be,” said Whitehead. While the set up is less than ideal, Spencer has been impressed by how quickly students and teachers alike have been able to make the switch to an all virtual model.

Student News

MFA student Anna Galluzzi was interviewed about her mixed media series, "Security Blanket," in a September 2019 Voyage Dallas Q&A>>

MFA student Leslie Mauldin creates paintings on steel sheet metal, sculptures out of metal and foam, as well as installations. Read Leslie's story>>

Art student Hannah Werchan (BFA '19, current MFA student) won first prize and $10,000 in the Kennedy Center’s 2018 VSA Emerging Young Artists Competition, a program that recognizes and showcases the work of artists with disabilities between ages 16-25. Her winning painting, "Growth," is an impressionistic self-portrait that conveys her experience living with Stickler Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disorder. View the award-winning works and read Hannah's story>> She was profiled in a September 2019 Voyage Dallas feature>>

Fall 2018 publication design students April Allyn, Clarissa Baniecki, Courtney Ford, Cassandra Miller, Jennie Posadas, Allyson Titus, Alexis Warthen and Abigail Wroten gained valuable professional experience serving the Greater Denton Arts Council as a client by creating and presenting their catalog design proposals for the "Materials Hard + Soft" exhibition. Graphic Design major Abigail Wroten won the honor of having her catalog chosen for publication. Professor Sheli Petersen, who taught Publication Design last semester, is continuing the collaboration with GDAC by guiding her Spring 2019 Advertising Design class in developing their Membership Drive Campaign. View the winning design and read their story>>

Alumni News

Kaylee Appleton (MFA 2014) took part in re/thinking photography: Conceptual Photography from Texas at Houston Center for Photography and Fotofest International, and was interviewed by fellow alumna Ashley Kauschinger for a recent LensScratch feature. Appleton is currently an assistant professor at Texas Christian University, and was recently selected to participate in a billboard art project on display in Fort Worth and surrounding areas. 

Sue Artner exhibited a range of her "enshrined" sculptures at the Mahara Gallery in New ZealandArtner began making sculptural collections or assemblages in her first TWU sculpture class in the 1960s.

Sculptor Marissa Baez (BFA '19) was profiled in Voyage Dallas and is pursuing her MFA in sculpture at Penn State University.

MFA in photography alumna Rachael Banks was interviewed by F-Stop Magazine in April 2019. Her series, The States Project: Kentucky, was featured on LensScratch in June 2019. Banks is an assistant professor of photography at Northern Kentucky University and is based in Covington, KY. 

Rebecca Boatman's (MFA 1988) exhibit, "Silent Covenants," will be on view at Texas Wesleyan University through March 28, 2019.

TWU alumna and illustrator Billie Buck (graphic design BFA, '14) received her second Best Poster Artist award at the 2019 Austin Music Industry Awards, and her first-ever poster show exhibit, "Hot Soup," will be on display at the Austin Museum of Popular Culture through March 29, 2020.

Karmien “Sweety” Bowman earned her master’s degree in ceramics, metals and sculpture from TWU in 1975. She is currently working as an associate professor of ceramics at Tarrant County College, owns a studio in west Flower Mound, and was recently featured in the Cross Timber's Gazette article, “'Sweety' Bowman: Art is her life."

Texas Woman's alumna and adjunct Bailey Chapman wears many hats. While serving as the drummer for beloved Denton psych rock group Pearl Earl and post-punk group Heavy Pulp, she teaches two summer painting courses at TWU. Check out Bailey's profile in the Dallas Observer>>

Elizabeth M. Claffey is an assistant professor of photography at Indiana University in Bloomington. She has an MFA in photography from TWU and received a 2012-13 William J. Fulbright Fellowship, which was used to support her documentary and creative research in Eastern Europe.

Ruth Crowe graduated from TWU with a degree in art education. Crowe creates multi-media works by combining personal and vintage photography with wax on wood. In addition to exhibiting her work in Ann Arbor and Toledo, Ohio, Crowe also shows at the Water Street Gallery in Douglas, Michigan, the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and the University of Michigan.

TWU alumna Cory Cryer's ceramics classes at Lone Star College-Kingwood Campus were featured in the recent Houston Tribune article, "Need a relaxing break? Try ceramics".

Brett Dyer earned his MFA in painting an intermedia arts at TWU, and recently gave his first solo exhibition, "Deliverance: Rescued and Set Free," at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.

Carol Fairlie, a BFA alumna, is now an accomplished painter, jewelry maker, printmaker and metalsmith as well as a professor at Sul Ross State University. She was recently profiled by the Odessa American.

Timothy Harding, TWU BFA alumnus, has been awarded a microgrant by the Nasher Sculpture Center. He was a Visiting Artist at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections. His exhibit was on display January through April 2018.

Watercolor artist and TWU alumna Kathleen House helped found the Cross Timbers Artist's Guild, which has been bringing Denton County creatives together since 2002.

Photography alumna Allison Jarek's (MFA '15) work has been shown nationally and featured in publications such as The Oxford American magazine, FotoFilmic, SHOTS Magazine, The Hand magazine, South x Southeast Photomagazine and, most recently, Aint-Bad. She currently serves as the director for the nonprofit Illuminate Atlanta.

Nitashia Johnson (BFA '12) won the 2019 Sony Alpha Female Creator-in-Residence Award. Johnson has worked as an educator, designer and photographer. She's started work on The Smart Project - an after-school program for creative teens and mentors, and completed two photographic books in her series, The Self Publicationwhich gives people of color a platform to express themselves and reflect upon their hardships and triumphs.

The works of TWU alumna April Judd are on display through June 30 at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Brattleboro, VT as part of a two-woman show of paintings and sculpture by Judd and Bev Larson.

Ashley Kauschinger (MFA) is a photographer and book artist that explores female identity and contemporary women’s voices. She is the founding editor of, and she currently teaches at the University of South Carolina. Her series, "Cycles: A History of Women," is part of is a compilation of work by emerging artists, "It Is A Miracle That We Are Standing Here," at the International Center for Photography. She was interviewed by TWU alumna Allison Jarek for Lenscratch in April 2020.

Shannon Linker received her master's in art history in 2001 and has since built an innovative artist services department and art gallery at the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Linker is the council's current Vice President and will become the Interim President on August 3. 

Robin McLaurin, TWU photography alumna, became an artist in residence at the Cayman Islands National Gallery in Summer 2016. 

After graduating in 1949, TWU alumna Jo Ann Miller pursued a graduate degree in archeology at Columbia University, worked in revues, acted on Broadway and sang in the Tommy Dorsey Band.

Texas Woman’s graphic design alumna, artist and entrepreneur Katie Mont (BFA '15) is one of the artists responsible for beautifying Denton through murals. Read Katie's Women Who Lead feature story>>

Katie Murray, CCO of M2G Ventures in Fort Worth, received her master's degree in painting from TWU. Murray was featured in a recent DFW Child article, "Mom Next Door: Katie Murray, CCO of M2G Ventures."

MFA alumna and acrylic collage artist Marie Renfro will lead a demo and workshop at the Farmers Branch Carrollton Art Association March 17, 2020.

Kristin Rivas earned her bachelor's in art history and is now director of the Samuel Lynne Galleries in Dallas. She recently was elected president of the Dallas Art Dealers Association and serves on the Art Selection Committee for the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center.

Hector Rodriguez, TWU visual arts alumnus and creator of the "El Peso Hero" comic series, was featured at the first-ever Texas Latino Comic Con on July 29, 2017, in Dallas. Read the Dallas Observer's profile of Hector and his comics >>

Emile Stewart, who graduated from TWU with her master’s in art education in 2010, opened a new business storefront in Denton: Wildflower Art Studio. Her studio was featured in the recent Denton Record-Chronicle article, "Love letters: Cursive gets a bump from handmade movement."

Dallas News profiled TWU graduate photography and book arts alumna Karen Weiner in "How Karen Weiner's 650-square-foot Reading Room became Dallas' most provocative art space."

Ashley Whitt's (MFA 2012) photography exhibition, There’s No Way Out: Selected Works from An Ordered Chaos, will be on display Aug. 11 – Oct. 6 at BOX 13, an artist-run nonprofit in Houston. Whitt was also recently interviewed by, an online photography magazine.

MFA in photography alumna Morgan Ford Willingham's exhibit, "The Beauty Mask," will be on display at the Mercer Gallery in Garden City, Kansas March 25-April 25, 2019.

Three TWU alumni, Nathan Madrid, co-founder and executive director (BA’11, MFA’14); Katie Murray, co-founder and chief advisor (MA’13); and Deedra Baker, program director (MFA’16), are behind the growing success of the contemporary Fort Worth Art Room, which became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to educate, inspire and support underrepresented youth and adult artists in the Fort Worth community. The center showcases a diverse culture of local, regional and national emerging and mid-career artists in a variety of media.

Close-up of the hanging dress in Anastasia Gabriel's installation
'Passage of Memory' by TWU Visual Arts alumna Anastasia Gabriel.

Faculty and Staff News

Cornaro professor emerita Susan kae Grant had her prize-winning Night Journey series on display October 2018 at The Baldwin Photographic Gallery in Murfreesboro, TN. She received the Cornaro Award on April 14, 2016. This is the highest honor and award to be bestowed upon a TWU faculty member, and Grant is the first visual arts faculty member to receive the award.

Meg Griffiths, assistant professor of photography, interviewed her mentor for the LensScratch article, "Photographers on Photographers: Meg Griffiths and Cig Harvey in Conversation." Her work will be on display at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center Aug.16-Sept. 28, 2019 as part of the collaborative exhibition, "Come Together."

Assistant professor of art history Liz Kim, Ph.D., will present 'Coreen Spellman's Abstractions' at the 2019 CASETA Symposium in Austin Mar. 29-31. Read Glasstire's event summary and view Kim's full presentation>>

Julie Libersat, assistant professor of studio art, participated in a panel discussion on new media art in North Texas at the Cedars Union in Dallas in partnership with Ro2 Art on Nov. 27. Her solo exhibition, Paved Paradise, will be on display March 10-April 19 at the Women & Their Work gallery in Austin, TX. Learn more >>

Colby Parson's Structured Light series will be on display June 8-August 25 at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center's Gough Gallery in Denton, TX.

Sheli Petersen's illustrations were featured at Grey Fox Mercantile's exhibition Aug. 2-Sept. 2, 2019 in New Hartford, New York. She organized TWU's first annual Art Day in October 2019 on the university's Denton campus. High school students, transfer students and art educators participated in the free, daylong event.

In September 2019, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art named TWU gallery coordinator Blake Weld one of four 2019–20 Carter Community Artists“As a Carter Community Artist, I hope to engage with a larger community and to showcase a different side of making art that can be humorous or serendipitous,” said Weld.

Vagner Mendonça Whitehead participated in the 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Leadership Institute, July 10-15, 2017 in San Antonio. On Friday, May 10, 2019, he participated in a discussion with other local artists at KERA's Art&Seek series "Change Makers and Risk Takers: State of the Arts" at the Greater Denton Arts Council.

Page last updated 3:58 PM, June 30, 2020