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2021 First-Year MFA Grad Students Art, Art History & Design // University of Notre Dame

Riley Fichter

Sculpture

Hometown

I am from Baraboo, Wisconsin.

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Having a close-knit group of artists to share in the MFA experience was an important factor for me when I was researching graduate programs. I enjoyed the community that was present amongst the students and faculty when I visited Notre Dame, and it's that community that is keeping me strong as I continue to work here.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

Work hard, and take your time. I've been able to find the most success when I apply those words to my practice and my life.

Where do you find inspiration?

I draw inspiration from nature, mythology, and studies on ancient civilizations.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art/design supplies?

Music, without a doubt. A comfy chair or couch with a solid table to work on helps too.

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

Any Isamu Noguchi sculpture would be amazing to display. If I can afford one of his works, I would also be able to afford a nice enough house to display it in!

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Vegetable curry and white rice. It's sustaining me now, and it will likely sustain me for the rest of my life.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

I set fire to a fabric and steel sculpture the night before it was set to be installed for a show. I worked through the night remaking it. The piece looked much better in the end.

Jacob Lehmann

Painting & Drawing

Hometown

Clemson, SC

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Notre Dame’s MFA program appealed to me because I feel there is an opportunity to move in an interdisciplinary direction with my work. I also wanted a program that would allow me to gain more teaching experience.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

The best piece of art advice I’ve ever received was from my high school art teacher. He told me regardless of how I felt about an idea or work I was making, he just said, “Make it anyway.” You never know who will respond or how people will respond to it until they actually do.

Where do you find inspiration?

Currently, I find inspiration from my own childhood. I go back through photo albums, go to places I grew up, think about the toys and games that I played with in order to find inspiration.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your design supplies?

I have to have natural light in my studio.

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

If I could display any artwork in my home, I would have to choose “Ground Swell” by Edward Hopper.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Enchiladas.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

The most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done was decide to climb the tallest mountain in South Carolina by myself.

Joe Matty

Photography

Hometown

Pittsburgh, PA

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Teaching experience, the freedom in the program to explore the concepts and work that I want to.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

Shoot with a purpose. It may sound rather simple, but when starting photography learning to turn the action of taking an image into something greater formed an incredible mindset towards how to make an image.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in the day-to-day.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art/design supplies?

A case of Dr. Pepper.

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

The Octopus, by Alvin Langdon Coburn.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Country fried steak with sausage gravy, a side of hash browns, and two over-easy eggs on white toast. (a cup of coffee, 2 sugars, a one-second pour of cream)

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

Explored an abandoned lens factory on a whim.

Hans Miles

Ceramics

Hometown

Prescott, Arizona

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Freedom, time, and resources.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

“Thinking doesn’t make you work, but working makes you think.” – Kurt Weiser

Where do you find inspiration?

I love nothing more than having a ream of copy paper, a number 2 pencil, and an afternoon to kill.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art/design supplies?

My own permission to take risks and be ok with failure.

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

Anything by Ron Nagle, or maybe Ron Nagle himself.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Churches Chicken, especially the fried okra.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

My attorney has advised me not to speak on the matter.

Junyoung Park

Industrial Design

Hometown

My hometown is Seoul, Korea. I grew up there until I turned 14 and came to the United States to study.

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Strong faculty who are capable of guiding me not only as a designer, but as an artist also. Also, I lived 40 min away from the campus, so that was a plus.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

The part where you don't pay attention, thinking that people will not notice, will become the imperfections that everyone will notice.

Where do you find inspiration?

Cars, and interior renovations. I get inspiration through touching and changing things on them.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art/design supplies?

My Bose noise-cancelling headphone. I'm able to focus much better being isolated from the world.

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

Alexander the Great by Rembrandt. The atmosphere, how Alexander is fully geared up and ready for a battle, makes me feel like I'm ready for what's coming in my life.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Steak! Sirloin medium rare, crispy on the outside.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

Joining the ROK Marine Corps. I thought my friend looked so cool, I decided to join and become tougher... but I instantly regretted in the first week of boot camp, carrying a giant log.

Nik Swift

Visual Communication Design

Hometown

Born/raised DMV, Chicago recently.

What is it about the program that appealed to you?

Autonomy in work, but also the opportunity to teach.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration, or career?

Don't forget to breathe ^_^

Where do you find inspiration?

Nature and Technology.

What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art/design supplies?

LAYERS! (i get cold).

If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

Vitruvian Man.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pad Thai, please.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

One time I got Panang instead.