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Graduate Students

Ashlyn Lee, MFA ‘19

(b.1996, Dallas, Texas) Ashlyn Lee received her BFA in Painting at Texas Woman’s University in 2016. Lee’s practice is primarily sculpture and painting where she explores the idiosyncrasies of being raised in rural Sanger, Texas. In her first year at SMU as an MFA she established the Open Studio Night event, curated the Spring BFA and MFA Qualifying Exhibitions and received the residency award for SMU’s partnership with SOMA in Mexico City, Mexico. Lee also serves as the Gallery Manager for Galerie Frank Elbaz in the Dallas Design District.

Brandon McGahey, MFA ‘20

(b.1996, North Richland Hills, Texas) Brandon McGahey is a ceramist, sculptor, and furniture maker. Raised from a lineage of handworkers, McGahey intertwines familial working traditions with dredged-up and ancient material histories derived from his research. Physical properties characterize subjects in stark and contemplative narratives which address themes such as preservation, self-reflection, and material interaction.

Ciara Bryant, MFA ‘20

(b.1990, Miami, Florida) Ciara Elle Bryant is a mixed media artist residing in Dallas, Texas where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Performance with a concentration in Visual Arts from The University of Texas at Dallas. Ciara’s work addresses areas of social injustice specifically those which evoke emotions drawn from day to day life experiences as a woman of color. Ciara uses a variety of materials and processes to emphasize the relationship between diversity and representation. Each individual work can both exist on its own and as a part of an interdependent unit.

Elizabeth Betzen, MFA ‘20

(b.1994, Oklahoma) Elizabeth Betzen received her BFA from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 2017. She works primarily in painting and drawing, but also dabbles in video, performance, and sculpture. Betzen’s subject matter is often commonplace and unassuming, but presented in a dramatic and emotional manner. She utilizes texture, color, and surface in her pieces. Betzen chose SMU because of the diversity in the faculty and the interdisciplinary program. At SMU, Betzen hopes to further her artistic skills and to deepen her knowledge of the contemporary art world.

Jer’Lisa Devezin, MFA ‘19

(b. 1989, New Orleans, Louisiana) Jer’Lisa Devezin received her B.A. from Dillard University in 2011. She was an Artist in Residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans in 2013-2014. In mixed media, her work explores the black female body through the lens of sexual objectification.

Jessie Plotts, MFA ‘19

(b.1990, Austin, Texas) Narrative, figure, and the controversy inherent to drawn and painted interaction currently form the basis of Jessie Plotts’ practice. Using experimental literary vignettes paired with paintings and drawings quickly and emotionally rendered, Plotts’ aims to illuminate the weird and ridiculous annals of the contemporary id—the parts of ourselves we want (and often need) to hide.

Leah Flook, MFA ‘20

(b.1993, Houston, Texas) Leah Flook is a Dallas based interdisciplinary artist who primarily works in digital media and sculpture. Her most recent studies explore the relationship between herself and her home. The manipulation of domestic spaces is common throughout her work, using this as a baseline for deeper exploration of self. She draws connections between design and functionality of a space by using furnishing as an extension of the tenant. She holds a BFA in sculpture and painting from University of North Texas.

Nathalie Alfonso, MFA ‘20

(b.1987, Bogota, Colombia) Nathalie Alfonso holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Florida International University, and she has been a teaching assistant in drawing and sculpture. Alfonso has received the SUM Award to develop research in Beijing, China at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Her work has been exhibited and performed in galleries, universities, and in public spaces, such as Marymount University in Washington D.C., Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Spinello Projects, Miami Beach Urban Studios, The Projects – Fat Village, The Annex – Fordistas, Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, and La Factoria – Ecuador. Alfonso’s practice investigates the value of manual labor, the degeneration of the body, and notions of impermanence through drawing, installation, and video. Her necessity to merge the practice of cleaning and art making is utilized to observe her constant obsession with cleanliness. This is manifested in the impermanent installations completed with repetitive movements of applied and removed charcoal on different surfaces such as walls, rags, and paper.

Nida Bangash, MFA ‘19

(b.1984, Mashhad, Iran) Nida Bangash is a Visual Artist born in Iran and brought up in Pakistan. Bangash is trained in the traditions of Persian and South Asian miniatures and experienced in employing these techniques in contemporary art. The complexity and diversity of her identity shapes her art practice and understanding of the world. Bangash’s practice is based on the language of patterns as means of weaving together the complexities of her cross-cultural experiences. She looks forward to having an immersive experience of sourcing, making, and sharing her practice at SMU.

Steven Hector Gonzalez, MFA ‘19

(b.1991, Dallas, Texas) Steven Hector Gonzalez is a Dallas, Texas based multidisciplinary artist whose work primarily consists of video, printed matter, and performance. His practice locates itself within ideas surrounding beauty, queerness, representation, space, and the body in digital landscapes. Steven received his BFA in Video + Sound Art from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR in 2015. Currently, Gonzalez is pursuing an MFA in Studio Arts at Southern Methodist University where he intends to broaden the scope of his artistic practice and theoretical research. Gonzalez has been exhibited nationally as well as internationally in group exhibitions such as April Meetings, Belgrade; Video! Video! Zine, Chicago; Pure Surface, Portland; and CARNALISMX COLLECTIVE, San Antonio.

Travis Lurato, MFA ‘20

(b.1985, Tucson, Arizona) Travis Iurato [pronounced “your-auto”] makes paintings and objects with at least 70% recycled or scavenged materials. His touch-points range from early modernism and dada to American folk and indigenous art, on to the Situationists and contemporary artists such as Jimmie Durham, Richard Tuttle, and Louise Nevelson. After graduating from the Cooper Union in 2009, he lived in New York and Arizona, during which time he exhibited in and curated shows in various venues in the US. At SMU he hopes to gain new skills in printmaking and ceramics, continue to paint, and make a new body of work about the experience and history of life in Texas.

Xxavier Edward Carter, MFA ‘19

(b.1986, Dallas, Texas) Poet, Anarchist, Militant, President of Meadows Graduate Student Council, BFA Stanford University 2010, In-praise-of-shadows.info

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