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In Focus: TWU/UNT MFA Reviews

Last week, I was invited to Texas Women’s University for a whirlwind one day event, which included participating in a panel talk with Mary Virginia Swanson and Kelli Connell, a book signing and a reception for my exhibition. During the morning, Kelli, Swan and I reviewed portfolios for MFA students attending TWU and neighboring University of North Texas. The event was organized by the incredible Susan Kae Grant who is a beloved professor at TWU and one of my favorite photographers.

Kelli Connell and I both have solo exhibitions running simultaneously in TWU’s East & West Galleries until February 15. If you’re in the area, hope you can pop by. More information about the exhibitions can be found here

(above: Susan Burnstine, Susan Kae Grant, Kelli Connell, Mary Virginia Swanson)

Today I’m featuring some work from a few of the students I reviewed including Ashley Kauschinger, Teresa Munisteri, Kristina Smith, Arthur Fields and Elva Salinas. 


Hot Skin is an investigation of everyday life that reflects upon the past and the present. The series shares  commonplace emotions and moments that overlap with the lives of others and connect those lives in understanding. This connection is created through a set of themes and symbols that are present throughout the    series. Implemented themes include sex, long distance communication, domestic living, relationships, and    moments of transition. These themes are examined through ambiguous, narrative self-portraits and still lives  within personal  environments. Each of these narratives has a sense of tension to create an emotional atmosphere to reflect upon. Tension is formed in each image by pinpointing a moment between two places or times, staging  scenes with layered meanings that pull against each other, and using available light at sunset. Symbols representing a personal mythology such as cloth, food, and hair are also present and repeated throughout the  series to create a sense of familiarity with the viewer. Hot Skin was photographed with a 4x5 view camera and  color slide film in Denton, Texas.

Ashley Kauschinger received her BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art in Design in 2011, and is currently studying with Susan kae Grant in pursuit of an MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University. She has recently received recognition from Photographer’s Forum, National Geographic and PDN.  Her upcoming exhibitions include, Intimacy and Voyeurism in San Franciso andOnward Compe in Philadelphia, both juried by Todd Hido. She lives and works in Denton, Texas.

To see more of Ashley’s work pop over to her website

TERESA MUNISTERI: Vestigial Forests

American identity is closely tied to nature as a birthright. The land in its overwhelming abundance is what the American Dream was built upon – opportunity and prosperity. But as Robert Adams implies, our vision of the ideal American landscape, the Thomas Cole and the Ansel Adams, is no longer true. My work explores the remnants of the primordial landscape in present-day reality. For the past three years, I have sought out isolated landscapes within developed areas that incite my curiosity and imagination. My process involves solitary trips into parks, wildlife reserves, and empty lots. Each spot is chosen for its remoteness and the evocative nature of untamed growth. I insert myself as a performer within the space. By highlighting the duality of the landscape (untamed within the tamed), my character reclaims the primordial landscape through action and gesture. The female figure contrasts and conforms to the unrestrained natural growth, and becomes a non-destructive human presence within the space.

The constant search for wonder in our natural environment is what drives my work. By exposing beauty in the depleted land, it is easy to forget the threat of encroaching development. The landscape in my images envelops both truth and fantasy; these beautiful, isolated locations. 

Teresa Munisteri is a lens-based artist currently living and working in Denton, Texas. She will receive a MFA in photography from the University of North Texas in May 2012. Teresa received her B.A. from Rice University in 2006. Landscape, performance and the figure play important roles in her work which includes film and digital photography as well as digital video. Her photographs are included in permanent and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

To see more of her work pop over to her website

KRISTINA SMITH: The Place Between Sleep and Awake

The Place Between Sleep and Awake is a body of work created after a return to my hometown after some time away. The title of this project stems from a quote in Peter Pan. It states, “You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” This body of work stems from an interest in the point in time where one has awoke suddenly from a dream, and then is unsure of their dreaming or waking state. This work reflects the balance that I am striving to attain between the silence and lonliness of my new home and the comfort and familiarity of my old home, as well as the memories and relationships that these spaces hold. This in-between place is where I find myself longing to be, a place of comfort and home.  

Kristina Smith is an artist that works predominantly in the mediums of photography and installation. Her work is concerned with ideas of loss, isolation, intimacy, home, and the implication of place.

Smith currently resides in Denton, Texas, where she is an M.F.A. candidate in the Photography program at Texas Woman’s University. She received her B.F.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography and Spatial Arts from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. 

ARTHUR FIELDS: Technically Connected

Technically Connected uses staged images to explore the process of self-discovery through narratives of behaviors associated with technology use and the roles that people assign personal technology in their lives.  There are three chapters for this work and I’ve posted two. The cell phone images are part of “Profile Portraits” and the environmental portraits are included in the “Screen Scenes” series. 

Arthur Fields completed a MFA in Photography from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas in 2011. He earned a BFA in Digital Imaging and Photography at Washington University in St. Louis in 2008.  To see more of his work pop over to his website.


Ashley, is a collection of digital color photo portraits inspired during the creation of Vulnerabilities an abstract photo documentation of ten women. The portrait incorporated conversation on how each woman related to their bodies and where their feelings rooted. In turn, I created abstract landscapes of their bodies. During Ashley’s session, there was a series of conversations and emotion that were witnessed and captured, I was moved to continue to photograph Ashley as a way to connect and understand her emotional struggle with her mind and body during her battle with anorexia diagnosis of Bi-polar disease.

After 6 months, I continued to photograph Ashley and the people closest to her: These are the people who she looks to for support and understanding. It led to the documentation of moments of change, where gestures and emotional expression are one’s mind processing feelings of isolation and the dynamics of one’s relationship to others in our environment.           

The need to create the project came from the ongoing journey though the struggle of traumatic events in my life in which I have been able to overcome by connections with others in my environment. The camera allows me to channel my emotional connection, document my journey and others struggles.  I photograph with an empathetic eye and heart, creating a world that both subject and I can find comfort, understanding, and beauty, leaving behind Isolation.

Elva Salinas is photographer and mixed media artist currently pursing and MFA in Photography with a minor Concentration in Painting at Texas Woman’s University.  After graduating from Incarnate Word University in 2007 San Antonio, Texas, Elva worked establishing herself in her art community by assisting in the creation of an art gallery for emerging artists, and creating her own work. Her work centers on the human form and emotion creating empathetic portraits of people in her environment to invite connections and understanding. 

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    A feature on my work by the very inspiring Susan Burnstine.
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