Ashley Freeby (MFA 2018)
Hometown: Topton, Pennsylvania
Three words that describe you: Steadfast, contemplative, visionary
Favorite class or teacher: Letterpress Bookworks—I had a mission to come to grad school and make a book. I came to grad school have made multiple artists books and fell in love with letterpress. Not just letterpress for the look/quality of printing, but the act of setting type, manually printing for endless hours, and the history behind the art form.
Most memorable moment at SAIC: Graduation will be my most memorable moment. I am a first generation college student and the first person across my family to pursue a graduate level degree.
One thing you learned at SAIC: How resilient I am. I grew up in a small town surrounded by farmland and fewer people than the number of undergraduates at SAIC. It took me a long time to adjust to living in a city without the support system of my close-knit family and friends.
What inspires you: Black writers, pastors, scholars, and activists who came before me.
One sentence that describes your work: Multidisciplinary by nature, my work is an incisive exploration of American history, which builds a critical examination of society and culture by recontextualizing pre-existing documentation and objects to reveal how the history of injustices against people of color inform our understanding of American society.
Dream job: Whatever career lets me teach (non-traditionally), make art, be a scholar, break boundaries, and change the world.
Falak Vasa (BFA 2018)
Hometown: Kolkata, India
Three words that describe you: Fire-emoji, full, sexy, rulebreaker
Favorite class or teacher: Siting Photography with Dawit Petros. It opened up my practice to be research-driven, soft, intensive, critical, funny, and generous all the while decolonizing institutional spaces from within and making space for marginalized communities.
Most memorable moment at SAIC: Every single moment I have gone to an event and there were chips and guac.
One thing you learned at SAIC: I know now that I don’t need one single container for my entire range of practices; there is no hierarchy of containers (an Instagram post is just as valid as a video installation and is just as valid as crying), and my work is inseparable from my lived experiences and identities.
What inspires you: Owls, my beard, clip-on earrings, video chats with mumma, making out, not making out, flamingoes, and Monet (lol jk).
One sentence that describes your work: Check out my website: falakvasa.com.
Dream job: I don’t want to choose one career. My work and I exist in multiple worlds and contexts, and I want to stay true to that. I see myself being an artist, writer, curator, teacher, organizer, and other roles I haven’t yet imagined.
Daphne Edgren (BFA 2018)
Hometown: Greeley, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Audacious, aberrant, ebullient
Favorite class or teacher: Giovanni Aloi is one of my favorite professors because his style of teaching made a big impact on my experience at SAIC. I learned a lot from his classes.
Most memorable moment at SAIC: Instead of beginning my first semester at SAIC as an art student, I was in the hospital as an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) patient. Brian Sikes, a faculty member at SAIC, visited me while I was in the surgical intensive care unit. He reassured me that nothing was lost, and that I could continue my dreams at SAIC.
One thing you learned at SAIC: SAIC taught me how to make valuable and lasting connections not only in the art world, but how to apply it to others, like the science world.
What inspires you: Stephen Gammel’s work in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark inspires me not to be afraid of drawing what I’m truly thinking, even if those illustrations come out a bit strange and disturbing.
One sentence that describes your work: A lot of lung transplants.
Dream job: A pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon. Artists think in terms of visuals, and as a doctor, an artist can visualize scenarios and operations pertaining to the case at hand. This gives an upper hand in solving situations quickly and effectively with aid of a science background. With this, my art practice is a necessary tool in becoming a successful doctor. My interest in cardiothoracic surgery has to do with my past experiences and my support for finding the treatment for ARDS.
Kevin Demery (MFA 2018)
Hometown: Oakland, California
Three words that describe you: Spontaneous, thoughtful, loving
Favorite class or teacher: Arnold Kemp was my favorite teacher. He had the patience to teach as well as mentor me.
Most memorable moment at SAIC: Giving advice to advanced painting students. Many of them are my friends today.
One thing you learned at SAIC: Your don’t need to have answers in the art you make; you need only to have questions.
What inspires you: Friendship and community.
One sentence that describes your work: A mélange of cultural/spiritual signifiers of the African American community coupled with formal traits of high modernism.
Dream job: An artist. I choose this because I already am one, and I don’t plan on turning back.