Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts Fall 2011 Inaugural Class

Inaugural class for Duke's new MFA
First session of MFAEDA "Experimental Film/Video" course with Josh Gibson. Photograph by Tom Rankin.

The Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University brings together two forms of artistic activity—the documentary approach and experimental production in analog, digital, and computational media—in a unique program that will foster collaborations across disciplines and media as it trains sophisticated, creative art practitioners. Successful completion of the program requires the development of a complex understanding of documentary practices and traditions as well as creative skills in experimental media and new technologies.

The philosophy of the program is guided by a belief in the intersection of personal artistic work with interpretive knowledge and of the relevance of the individual documentary/experimental artist within the cultural history and life of communities. A key component to the program is the notion of creative engagement through the arts and the role of the artist in society. Graduates are expected to generate work that has impact both within and outside the academy.

Read more about the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts at

The MFAEDA welcomes fifteen students into its inaugural class:

Eric Barstow was born in Manhattan, New York, and lived in Queens during his childhood. He has placed all of his focus on filmmaking and understanding the process from beginning to end. He graduated summa cum laude from St. Augustine’s College, where he studied film.

Marika Borgeson is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She works primarily in 16mm to explore the materiality of the medium through physical manipulation of film. She also interrogates ideas of memory and authenticity through the appropriation of strangers’ home movies to tell familial histories. She hopes to investigate the role film can play in the cultural exploration and preservation of marginalized indigenous populations.

Philip Brubaker works in video and digital and film still photography. His award-winning documentaries have screened worldwide and have been written about in the New York Times. Abandoned is his current project.

Laura Doggett has been directing youth media and creative arts programs for over ten years. She has worked with the Educational Video Center in New York; with teenagers at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C., producing radio documentaries and a bilingual telenovella series; with youth in the Appalachian Mountains at Appalshop in Kentucky; and she started a media program for young women at High Rocks for Girls in West Virginia. She has also taught creative writing and theater to immigrant teenagers at the International High School in Queens, New York.

Wolfgang Hastert is an award-winning filmmaker and media artist whose films on American photographers and culture have been shown worldwide. Using quirky and experimental approaches, he continues to work on the intersection of the moving and the still image. Recently he embarked on making handmade books documenting his life as an immigrant. He has taught film production, digital editing, and experimental photography at the University of California, San Diego.

Braxton Hood comes to the Duke MFA program with a degree in cultural studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and with years of experience in directing, producing, and editing educational media; working with NGO lead initiatives; and collaborating with independent artists.

Elizabeth Landesberg hopes to teach storytelling to all ages and put different communities and cultures in conversation through creative multimedia projects. She brings to the MFAEDA her background in anthropology and ethnographic filmmaking, passion for oral history, and experience working with children in Los Angeles, Bolivia, Mexico, and Guatemala.

Peter G. Lisignoll is a New Mexico-based inter-media artist, musician, and educator with a focus on Latin America, public space, and migrant communities. His artistic practice includes film, digital video, photography, collage, and live analog projections.

Annabel Manning creates participatory art installations combining custom-designed software with such mediums as digital and nondigital printmaking, painting, drawing, and video. She was raised in Latin America and is exploring issues related to immigration in her current work, as well as other subjects that engage the personal and political.

Lisa McCarty creates images using cameras and photographic processes with technical limitations in order to address the imperfect yet wondrous systems that govern cognition and consciousness. Lisa is from Arlington, Virginia, and has exhibited nationally and internationally since earning a BFA from George Mason University in 2005.

Laurenn McCubbin is a graphic designer, artist, and illustrator, who recently received an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her comic book work has been published by Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and McSweeney’s. Her graphic novel Rent Girl (with Michelle Tea) was optioned for television.

Natalie Minik is from Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in photography and journalism. She also attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2005. Currently she is co-founder and editor of One, One Thousand | A Publication for Southern Photography.

Jolene Mok was born and raised in Hong Kong. She is an artist and researcher working in photography, video, and new media. Her work always incorporates participatory research with visual ethnography, emphasizing interaction and collaboration among participants and coauthors.

Talena Sanders is an interdisciplinary artist utilizing a range of media, including film photography, digital video, live digital video mixing, moving image film, and installation, to explore the ways humans express individual and collective identities. Her past work has included candid examinations of individuals’ processes of self-discovery and expressions of lifestyle through their relationships with their professions, material possessions, and immediate environments, and their choices in appearance and dress. Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, she has been living and working in North Carolina for the past year.

Joel Wanek is a photographer and educator in Chicago. With his students, he is interested in collaboratively exploring the endless possibilities of pairing sound, text, and image.

Related: “MFA Program Broadens Artistic Horizons,” in Duke’s Chronicle, September 20, 2011

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