Introducing the MFAEDA Class of 2014

The MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts welcomed fifteen new students this Fall, bringing the program into full enrollment for the first time.  “The infusion of energy that comes with this new class combined with the remarkable experience of our first class will elevate everyone’s artistic work, as well as the arts scene at Duke,” says Tom Rankin, the program’s Director of Graduate Studies.  “As with the first, this second group comes from diverse geographies and artistic backgrounds, promising to enrich the documentary community in many ways.”

We’re thrilled to introduce the Class of 2014:

Runa A is from China and holds a Bachelor Degree in Sound Recording Art. She spent the last two years in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, focused on Film, Video and New Media, creating films and video installations.  Runa’s favorite artists are John Cage, Douglas Gordon and Cindy Sherman; Alfred Hitchcock is her favorite director. She loves reading fiction and listening to music – especially punk and electronia. Above all, her favorite pastime is watching movies.

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Kristin Bedford considers art and activism as one and the same. Using both analog and digital photography, her visual practice focuses on the overlooked and disregarded. Working on the streets of Los Angeles she explores themes of displacement, discrimination, and acts of faith. An extension of her craft is being an activist for social change, which has included working in Los Angeles’ Skid Row and being on staff with Obama’s presidential campaign. Kristin’s engagement with art and street culture also carries into her work with the Filmmobile, a mobile cinema project that screens films in their actual or implied cinematic locations throughout Los Angeles.

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Amanda Berg is a New Jersey native. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Photojournalism and a concentration in Philosophy. She is joining the MFAEDA with hopes of continuing to explore issues young women face in contemporary American culture.

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Born in 1987, Rachel Boillot grew up in New York and Singapore. Following her graduation from high school, she entered the Combined-degree (BA/BFA) program at Tufts University, where she studied sociology and photography. Her photographic work explores the concept of “home” in America and the changing social landscape. She has spent the past two years working as a photographer and archivist for the Boston Housing Authority.

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A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a 4th generation Texan, Brenda L. Burmeister claims she is a conceptual artist using new media. Her work is preoccupied with the gray areas of relationships particularly concerning motherhood and domestic situations.  For over ten years, she home-schooled her three children and professionally taught art to the young and the young at heart. Her philosophy is rooted in the belief that all/everyone can/should make/experience art. Recent work exemplifies this philosophy. Project like “Label Me”, multi-media adventure, and “Captain of my Own Boat”,a crowd sourced video incorporate the public in engagement to complete the art. In 2011, 1,000 Cranes for Japan Project, a collaborative community art piece, was exhibited in the courtyard of the San Antonio Museum of Art. Brenda is also the co-founder of The Zoetica Project, a women’s workshop that is designed to empower mothers through the creative process to fulfill their life dreams.

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Malina Chavez works on projects about connectedness, loss, permeability of identity, and personal desires in a world full of mediated social programming. Her interests lie in exploring the possibility of the knowledge of self and others by examining historical and current media as a social construct. Her work considers how our interactions with new technologies constantly force us to re-think our current notions of what it means to be human.

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Erin Espelie is a filmmaker, writer, and editor, specializing in representations of science and nature; her poetic, nonfiction films have screened at the New York Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Full Frame Festival, the British Film Institute, and elsewhere. She designed and taught a course titled “Environmental Issues and the Documentary Arts,” at Duke University this past spring and at the University of Colorado, Boulder in summer of 2012.  Espelie continues to serve as executive editor of Natural History magazine, where she’s written a monthly column since 2002.

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Sarah Garrahan is a documentary filmmaker and editor from San Antonio, Texas. She has spent the past few years studying and working between Austin, Texas and Barcelona, Spain. Her work has focused on documenting underrepresented communities, specifically on issues of indigenous and human rights. She recently worked as a documentary editor for KLRU, Austin’s local PBS affiliate.

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Caitlin Margaret Kelly is a documentary photographer with over 17 years experience as a photojournalist, spending most of that time working for newspapers in Southern California. Her focus on social issues and interest in women’s rights has lead Kelly to her current project, ‘I am: Women Living with HIV,’ (www.iam.cateincba.com) exhibited during the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. Kelly recently returned to live in the United States after four years in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During her time abroad she focused on various personal projects, exhibiting her work in Buenos Aires and Colonia, Uruguay and volunteered as a photography instructor at Ojo de Pez, an educational program that teaches at-risk teens digital photography, inspiring them to actively and thoughtfully explore and interact with their world.

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You-Jin Kim is interested in the relationship between human emotions and technologies around us.  He is researching how people establish special feelings toward everyday technology objects; for example, how people sometimes have hard time discarding an old cell phone.  You-Jin’s work attempts to capture the moment when a machine becomes something more to people, striving to show viewers an optimistic side of the sudden changes engendered by technology by building robots designed to elicit a strong emotional bond with the viewer.  Kim seeks to continue to make kinetic art that will positively engage and intrigue the viewer’s heart.

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Jonna McKone has worked as a journalist, writer and radio producer in Washington, DC, where she grew up, for the past two years. She has covered a wide range of topics and believes strongly in participatory methods and finding under-reported topics. Starting in mid 2011, she also produced a series on the DC’s changing neighborhoods for WAMU 88.5. She earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College.

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Jing Niu is an artist interested in creating avant-garde media forms that touch on themes of isolation, nihilism, and our age of modernity which “progresses” on a fundamental mind-body dualism. Born in Sichuan, China and having moved to the States at a young age, Jing began her filmmaking adventures as a visual artist who rummaged through the mediums of sculpture, painting and collage. She recently completed degrees in filmmaking and geology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her passions include the study of the Earth, Eco-feminism, Buddhism and radical politics. Through her medium, Jing hopes to produce whatever society needs from artists to grow and transform. Please visit her website, www.jingniu.wordpress.com, to learn more about her work.

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John Rash is a native of North Carolina who has been working since 2004 as instructor of digital photography and multimedia production in the well-known photography program at Randolph Community College. After earning his BFA in Art Education from UNC-Greensboro in 2000, he worked for several years as a high school AP Art Instructor, published an independent magazine, helped to found the GreensboroFest music festival, and has more recently spent 5 years self-learning mandarin Chinese.  John says the highlight of his year is organizing and leading student groups on photography tours of Hong Kong and Mainland China. John can be followed online at his website www.johnrash.me or via Twitter @rashphoto.

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Jennifer Stratton is a researcher, educator, thinker and maker.  She grew up with a strong spirit of exploration, constantly moving around the globe with her family.  For the past several years she has worked as a data visualization specialist, production fabricator and instructor for photography, film and stop-motion animation workshops.  Her work is centered in collective imagination, interdisciplinary collaboration, community storytelling, interconnectivity, and the ephemeral magic that happens when light meets surface.

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Shan Shan is an experimental filmmaker who often approaches her film as an artistic platform to raise questions around contemporary social existence on both a conscious and unconscious level. She received her B.A in Cinema at Binghamton University. Enhancing her enthusiasm for film into another dimension, she later worked as an associate producer in both the film and TV industries.