The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


About the MFA

About the MFA | Admission Requirements | Current MFA Students

For a select group of graduate students, we offer an advanced program that has been ranked among the top four printmaking programs for the past decade. Our program is comprehensive, encompassing traditional as well and new media and approaches. Additionally, our program is known for a commitment to connecting theory to practice. Each year we typically receive more than 50 applications for 2-4 openings in the program.

Graduate students are required to place a greater emphasis on applying theory to the development of a mature body of work. Our program is also intended to provide preparatory experiences for college level teaching for students on a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.

We strongly encourage applicants to come to Knoxville to meet us and the current students and to see our facilities. The UT Printshop is located in room 241 on the second floor, north-west corner.

To see what our former MFA students are doing today, click here. Current MFA students are listed below. Prospective students are welcome to contact these individuals to inquire about the program.

About the MFA | Admission Requirements | Current MFA Students

Admission Requirements

In order to become a candidate in a degree program, the applicant must be admitted by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the School of Art. Both the Graduate School and the School of Art have specific requirements and application procedures which must be satisfied by the application.

School of Art Graduate Links

MFA Information
MFA Application
MFA Assistantships + Financial Aid
School of Art Graduate Handbook

UT Graduate Admission Links

Graduate School
Graduate Admissions
UTK Catalog

Questions or comments should be directed to:

Ellen Orner
Program Resource Specialist
School of Art
213 Art & Architecture Bldg.
1715 Volunteer Blvd.
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-2410
(865) 974-3407
FAX: (865) 974-3198

Current MFA Students

About the MFA | Admission Requirements | Current MFA Students

2014-2015 Grad Accomplishments

Brandon Jess (BJ) Alumbaugh, III Year
Education: University of Northern Iowa, BFA

picture picture picture

Most of my interests peak right in the middle between traditional printmaking and graphic design. I have a strong love for design elements and typography as well as drawing and engraving practices. I pull from interests in hand lettering, border motifs, the occult, comics, zines, as well as low brow and psychedelic artwork. Much of my work contains spiritual undertones. Part of that stems from never being too religious but still wanting a meaningful narrative in it's place. I feel that I can't help but be a product of the digital age. However, I like to think of this background as a way to break down limitations and expand the possibilities of creating new, innovative work.

Alumbaugh grew up in rural Iowa and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Northern Iowa. While attending UNI, he excelled in both printmaking and design. He then moved on to work at Yee-Haw Industries, a renowned letterpress and design studio in Knoxville, TN. Since Yee-Haw's closure in 2012, he has continued to do design and print work in the downtown Knoxville area. BJ has been involved in numerous portfolios and publications and continues to show work locally and nationally.

Jade Hoyer, III Year
Education: Carleton College, BA

picture picture picture

"I create humorous artwork that raises awareness of social issues. Through printmaking and book arts, I offer sardonic commentary on racial, class, and gender inequality often based on my own experiences as a biracial woman and on my professional work in secondary and higher education. My work not only references the politically correct notion of diversity but also addresses the conflicted result of meshing worlds that are culturally, economically, and systemically separated."

Jade Hoyer grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and somehow found home on the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, MN. Her work addresses social issues through narrative, text, portraiture, and humor. Hoyer graduated from Carleton College in 2007, where she pursued coursework in art, environmental studies, and Nocturnalism. She has been awarded grants from organizations including the Minnesota States Arts Board, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, and the Minnesota Humanities Center, and has exhibited her work at venues including at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Printmaking Center of New Jersey.

Tatiana Potts, III Year
Education: University of North Carolina, Asheville, BFA

picture picture picture

"What is sense of place and how can it be created by an artist? What are the feelings that are evoked by looking at imaginary places in artistic compositions and how are these perceptions formed? The series of prints, Perceptions of Places are constructed by combining two or more images of decorative architectural details from trips back to my home in Slovakia and in the USA. They are viewed from different angles in order to create an illusion of imaginary three-dimensional spaces. Through the inclusion of the architectural details, in my mind, I can revisit the places that I experienced and develop a sense of place that is personal. The composition, however, is open to different interpretations based on the viewers' perception of what is being observed. In addition, the composition contains the bold shapes of shadows that are either directly correlated to the three-dimensional place or detached and standing on their own creating their own plane, space or place. The images created on zinc plate, limestone and photo litho plate are printed on top of each other to accomplish multilayered compositions. Printing in layers allows me to manipulate the order of the individual layers and use of different range of colors to create more depth to the composition."

Tatiana Potts is a native of Slovakia. In her early 20s she studied English for two years in the United Kingdom, and then worked for ACDI/VOCA, a non-profit organization in Slovakia, where she served as the Manager of their Community Development Program. In 2000, she moved to the United States to advance her educational opportunities, completing a BA degree (cum laude) in 2004 from Clemson University with majors in Spanish Language and International Trade. In 2007, she started a Graphic and Web Design business. Being passionate about drawing all her life, she began formal art studies in 2009 at UNC Asheville where she discovered printmaking. While at UNCA she was awarded a grant from the University's Undergraduate Research Program, the Office of Academic Affairs Scholarship and a full scholarship by the Windgate Charity Foundation to attend Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN. Three of her large prints were purchased for the permanent collection of the UNCA by the Chancellor, the Ramsey Library and the Dean of Humanities. Most recently she was awarded the prestigious Herman E. Spivey Humanities Graduate Fellowship by the University of Tennessee.

Keely Snook, III Year
Education: California State University Chico, BFA

picture picture picture

"Habits are a form of behavior that is not only repetitive and universal but often deeply personal. Specifically, my interest is mannerisms in which the behavior is a physical interaction between the subject and their body. A habit can impact our sense of personal identity not only by scaring or marking the body, but also psychologically by its effect on how we are viewed by peers and ultimately our self-perception. The habits were chosen because the subject not only identified with the idiosyncrasy but also expressed it as odd or strange, sometimes even embarrassing. The work creates an opportunity for communication between subject and viewer, capturing a display that is often hidden or short-lived. The price paid by this voyeurism is the uncomfortable sense of the subject's vulnerability and anxiety, the feeling that they know they are being watched. Through the process of woodcut the repetitive marking of the body is mimicked, as well as scaring, through the preservation of grain pattern and original gouges found in the wood. With my work, each piece stands as a visual manifestation of personal identity."

Keely Snook was born in Mountain View, California in 1989 and at the age of four moved from the Silicon Valley suburb to the Santa Cruz Mountains. At thirteen she took her first printmaking course at a summer program offered through Oregon State University. She was reintroduced to the medium at California State University, Chico and graduated with her BFA in Printmaking and a minor in Art History in 2012. Over the past decade, she has continually sought opportunities to expand upon her knowledge and experience. She has worked as the Printmaking Technical Assistant at CSU Chico and an Intern at the Janet Turner Print Museum, attended the Southern Graphics Conferences in New Orleans and Milwaukee, took multiple courses through the Frogman's Print and Paper Workshop, and participated in local and national group exhibitions and exchanges. Her work is included in the collections of the Janet Turner Print Museum, the Mesa Contemporary Art Center, and the Museum of Northern California Art.

Kelsey Stephenson, III Year
Education: University of Alberta, Design

picture picture picture

I have always been interested in perception and consciousness, in the way we remember and perceive the world around us; ask any two individuals about the same event and they answer differently. Our experiences as individuals are powerful, yet transient; they mold us throughout our lives, but remain extremely fragile. It is easy to misremember, or color impressions based on the emotion of the moment; the mind sometimes can no longer access the information it has stored. It is this tension between the formative strengths of memory and fragility which informs my work. Printmaking, especially using an easily degraded or more ephemeral matrix, resonates with this concept of an embedded memory; multiple impressions may come from the same matrix, but each is printed differently, and cannot be the same despite that shared origin; over time and use, it becomes impossible to create a similar impression as the plate degrades or is reworked. My most recent work utilizes the structure and shape of ships, referencing them both as a means of navigation and as a vessel, or container, a means of passage. They are not fully of one place or another, but exist in a state of transition. Wherever we go, we bring many things with us. Structures in which we live and work, and in which our experiences and feelings take place become embedded in our psyches, and establish a lasting impression; we take our experiences and influences with us wherever we go. These impressions inevitably change, but traces always remain. Remembered or not, memories of our experiences shape who we are in profound ways.

Kelsey Stephenson was born and raised in Edmonton, and fell in love with printmaking in her second year at the University of Alberta. She graduated with a Bachelor of Design in 2011, and since then has become involved with (SNAP) the Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists, volunteering and continuing to work on new ideas out of their downtown printmaking studio. Kelsey has exhibited her work in solo shows in Edmonton, as well as in biennales nationally and internationally.

Jessica Gatlin - II Year
Education: Florida State University (BFA)

picture picture picture

My practice revolves around the body and ritual. Printmaking, for me, mimics this idea of the interaction of the body and ceremony. The medium is a meditative exercise: one that is repetitive, physical and solitary. My artistic research is centered in African American history and culture as well as my personal experiences within these contexts. Most recently, I have been interested in the rituals one creates in response to tradition, social norms and 21st century challenges. In exploring my own routines, I began to investigate the African American hair industry; with special regard for the burgeoning natural hair trend. My resulting prints are studies of everyday products and objects used for Black hair; some directly related to my daily routine, others emblematic of broader experiences. My process – printing with hair, combs, and styling pomades – provides an alternative, contemporary approach to traditional printmaking. The use of product as medium unveils some of the mystery of Black hair while also questioning the unhealthy and unsustainable practices connected to concepts of beauty.

Jessica Gatlin grew up in Jackson, Tennessee. She received her BFA in Studio Art from Florida State University, with a concentration in printmaking.  After graduating, she moved to Philadelphia, PA, where she engaged in the established print community as well as the city’s rich historical and cultural offerings. Gatlin comes to the University of Tennessee Knoxville having just completed the apprentice program at the Fabric Workshop Museum and a yearlong residency at Second State Press.

Abigail Lucien - II Year
Education: Florida State University (BFA)

picture picture picture

Growing up as a biracial and bicultural woman, I observed first-hand how things that are very different and unusual from each other can come together and live harmoniously, and in the same breath, how they cannot. My interest resides in the grey area between the two – in the limbo where objects, people and things loose their intended function and their purpose is redefined. I allow the methods of the printmaking process to both inform and express my ideas of cultural identity. In my work I print consecutive layers of color using a technical approach called process printing, as a way of drawing parallels with the layers of my own layered heritage. With this process I seek to replicate the experiences I have had with both people and things, while re-appropriating them to allow them to exist in a new time and space.

Abigail Lucien’s background directly influences her work as an artist. With an American mother and Haitian father, Lucien spent her earliest years in Cap-Haitien, Haiti before settling with her mother and two elder sisters in a small town on the East Coast of Northern Florida. Before coming to the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Lucien earned her BFA from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Her work explores hybrid techniques of traditional and non-traditional printmaking, occasionally calling-on both installation and performance. 

Elysia Mann - II Year
Education:  Washington University (BFA)

picture picture picture

Text and image are equally potent storytelling tools. Working in the form of the book, installation or two-dimensional print, I am always interested in how text and image combine to influence the act of authorship and the experience of reading. Symbol, allusion, and language (often boiled down to a single letter) appear as conductors of ambiguous meaning, hinting at what has been omitted. Using personal narrative as a foundation, I explore literacy, legacy, myth and oblivion. In addition to intimate self-analysis, research is an integral part of my practice. I borrow from historic aesthetics including medieval painting and classical book typography. Collaborative conversation with literature and history helps to direct my exploration of the changing modes of communication. My work acts as a bridge between past tradition and future audience, chronicling a present atmosphere of cultural and technological transition.

Originally from rural Nebraska, Elysia received her BFA in Printmaking in 2007 from Washington University in St. Louis. Shortly thereafter, she co-founded a local collaborative print studio, All Along Press, where she published prints, limited edition artist books and other projects. Her work has been shown nationally, and she has received numerous awards and honors including Critical Mass for the Arts' Creative Stimulus Grant, two Nebraska Book Awards, and artist residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City and at the Art and History Museums in Maitland, Florida.

Geoffrey Silvis - II Year
Education: University of Hartford (BFA)

picture picture picture

With electrons and atoms flying around, there is nothing truly static in our world, but my intent is to elicit the essence of a static moment in time, showing multiple levels of understanding through a single subject. Layers of transparent imagery convey Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, where you can never truly know the location of an object and its speed at the same time. You are left with an impression and an approximation: a gesture. A prominent concept that influences my work is that of human understanding perception of time, space, and position. When I experience something like pain, there are electrical reactions that have taken place to let me know that I am feeling it. These electrical reactions take time, and I am living in the past. At every waking second, I have already done what I am experiencing, fractions of a second before my brain realizes it.

Geoffrey Silvis grew up in Burlington, Massachusetts, and received his BFA in Printmaking from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, in 2010. A consummate house painter, he also worked as an admissions coordinator for his alma mater, the Hartford Art School, for three years. During his time out of school, Geoffrey discovered NPR's Radiolab, which focuses on a unique blend of science and storytelling. Inspired by Radiolab's approach - using an inviting tone and accessible vocabulary to engage with a variety of listeners - Geoffrey's work has taken on a similar goal. From Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to the newly determined death of the dinosaurs, Geoffrey encourages scientific literacy through artistic storytelling. His work has been featured in Still Point Magazine, with works exhibited in Carlsbad, CA, New Haven, CT, and Norwalk, CT at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking.

Johanna Winters - I Year
Education: University of Winsconson, Green Bay (BA)

picture picture picture

I playfully contemplate my upbringing in Midwestern suburbia where a culture of over-indulgence and herd mentality gives way to sprawling freeways, hyper-manicured subdivisions, big box stores, and strip mall wastelands. My current work portrays a cast of impish characters that both mock and celebrate the gluttony and banality of Middle America. The subjects of my recent prints are mammalian creatures that are restrained and stranded in sparse and absurd environments; these horned beasts are scapegoats of sorts, burdened with the task of both personifying and deflecting my dismay at the antics of myself and my suburban brethren.

Johanna Winters divides her allegiance between the great states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, where beer, cheese, and mosquitos are ample. She received a B.A. in studio arts from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and upon graduation, competed on an Olympic development cross country ski team based in the Upper Midwest. She has worked as the Education Manager at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, and taught printmaking as an Associate Lecturer at UW-Green Bay. In the winter of 2015 Johanna completed a printmaking residency at Guttenberg Arts in New Jersey. Her prints have been included in juried exhibitions, print biennials, and portfolios, most recently in Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Germany.


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System