Alfred University News

School of Art & design + Performing Arts Division Welcomes New Faculty and Staff

The School of Art & Design and Performing Arts Division is pleased to welcome new faculty and staff this academic year.

The School of Art & Design and Performing Arts Division is pleased to welcome new faculty and staff this academic year.

Maria Bentley, Assistant Dean School of Art & Design + Performing Arts Division 

Bentley has shaped Arts recruitment within Enrollment Management since 2015. Maria received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2015 and a Master of Science in Education, College Student Development, from Alfred University in 2020 and she is presently working toward a Master of Science in Education, Mental Health Counseling, also at Alfred University.

Maria states, “I am eager to work with students. I aim to be a steward of positive wellness and collaboration, as well as an ally and advocate for all for our Alfred Arts community. It is my mission to make sure all students find their experience in the Arts at Alfred to be inclusive, equitable, and accessible.”

Art History

Meg Bernstein, Assistant Professor of Art History (joining in the spring semester)

Meg Bernstein is an art and architectural historian of the Middle Ages. She earned her PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019. Meg is an alumna of Smith College, and holds master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Yale Divinity School. She has been a Kress Institutional Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2015-17), a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music (2020-1), and in 2021-2 has been a Fulbright US Scholar at the University of York and postdoctoral fellow of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Meg has taught Art History at UCLA, the Courtauld, RISD, Columbia, Yale, Kenyon College, and the University of York.

Meg is excited to join the vibrant communities of the School of Art and Design and Alfred University. She especially looks forward to exploring the techniques and materials used for artmaking in the premodern world in the classroom, museum, on study trips, and in the studio with Alfred students and colleagues.

Ceramic Art

Stephanie Hanes, Assistant Professor of Ceramics

Stephanie E. Hanes is a figurative sculptor whose personal work deals with feminist theory in relation to visual culture and questioning ideas of embodiment, subjectivity, identity, and its relation to the sublime. Hanes received an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017 and received the prestigious Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship for displaying exceptional promise as a grad student. Stephanie has exhibited internationally with a solo show at C.R.E.T.A Rome Gallery in Italy and several group shows at Lefebvre et Fils Gallery in Paris, France, where they also were a resident in at the Versailles Residency. In 2020, Stephanie was one of the artists awarded the NCECA Emerging Artist Prize. As an instructor Stephanie was an invited artist and lecturer at California State University Long Beach.Before starting their position at Alfred University, Stephanie was a Full-Time Lecturer in the 3D4M Department at the University of Washington in Seattle, where they taught ceramics and sculpture since 2018.

Stephanie states, “I am so looking forward to working with you all at the NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University as Assistant Professor in Ceramic Sculpture! I am very honored and humbled to be chosen to work with so many wonderful colleagues and most importantly the amazing students. I am thrilled to be able to contribute to the historical legacy of this prestigious program.”

Lindsay Montgomery, Visiting Assistant Professor of Ceramics

Lindsay Montgomery works across a variety of media including ceramics, painting, and puppetry to create objects, and performances. Her work is focused on creating mythologies that confront and re-imagine classical narratives to address a wide range of topics and issues including death and mysticism, feminism, and evolving modes of power. She earned a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and received her MFA from the University of Minnesota.

Drawing, Painting & Photography

Nando Alvarez-Perez, Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography

Nando Alvarez-Perez is an artist and educator based in Buffalo, NY. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. His practice extends into his work as a founding director of The Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art–an art and education nonprofit with a mission to model the ways culture can sustain communities through focused, practical engagements with contemporary art–and as editor-in-chief of Cornelia magazine, a visual art review published three times per year for the Western New York and Southern Ontario region.

Patrick Brennan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Painting

Patrick Brennan was born in Syracuse, NY and currently lives and works in New York City. Recent solo exhibitions have been at Cornell University Ithaca, NY;  Halsey McKay, East Hampton; Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco; Essex Flowers, New York; as well as group shows at MOMA / PS1, Galerie Lelong, Safe Gallery, Jack Hanley Gallery, Nicole Klagsbrun, Artists Space, Monya Rowe Gallery, Zieher Smith, Edward Thorpe, and Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York; Cooper Cole, Toronto; and V1, Copenhagen, Denmark. He is recipient of the NYFA fellowship in painting, was a founding member of Essex Flowers in New York City, and has been a visiting artist and lecturer at Cornell University, US Embassy in Bahrain, Lehman College, Alfred University, Bennington College and many others. Brennan  is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery.

Kelsey Sucena, Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography

Kelsey Sucena (they/she,) is a trans*feminine/nonbinary photographer, writer, editor, educator, and former park ranger currently based on Long Island. Their work rests at the intersection of photography and text, often within the bodies of performative slideshows, zines, postal exhibitions, and photo-text-books. It is centered broadly upon the United States as a site for anti-capitalist, queer, and critical reflection. Kelsey is an MFA graduate from Image Text Ithaca , Managing Editor of Photocaptionist, and a freelance writer/editor with contributions to Float Photo Magazine, Rocket Science, Aperture, and 10x10 Photobooks.

Expanded Media

Anthony Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Design

Anthony Nguyen is an American artist and educator from Brooklyn, New York by way of Santa Ana, California. His studio practice pulls from graphic design, assemblage, and installation, inhabiting and reporting from the intervals between America and Vietnam; between a first and second generation; between war and not-war; between home and homeland. He has taught in the Department of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University as a Designer-in-residence and Assistant Professor.

He received a B.A. concentrating in Sociology and Subcultures from New York University in 2000 and an M.F.A. In 2D Design From Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2018. Prior to maintaining a freelance design practice, he worked as an apparel designer in skateboarding and streetwear, as well as an ethnographer studying marijuana blunt use populations.

Anthony states, "Having completed my collegiate studies within interdisciplinary and experimental programs at the undergraduate (NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study) and graduate (Cranbrook Academy of Art) level, my educational experiences have profoundly shaped my beliefs surrounding contemporary art and design pedagogy, which align with Alfred’s open curriculum and embrace of cross-disciplinary art-making. Alfred’s intimate setting, its support and encouragement of experimental work, and its reputation for cultivating adventurous, engaged students, present exciting possibilities for an educator, and I look forward to joining its creative community."

Ziyang Wu, International Randall Chair

Ziyang Wu is an artist based in Hangzhou and New York, currently teaching at the School of Design and Innovation at China Academy of Art, and is a current member of NEW INC at the New Museum. With an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a BFA from the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, his video, AR, AI simulation and interactive video installation have exhibited internationally, including the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia, Rhizome at the New Museum in New York, Walker Art Center and Rochester Art Center in Minnesota, SXSW in Texas, Art Dubai, Annka Kultys Gallery in London, Eigenheim Gallery in Berlin, Medici Palace in Florence, Milan Design Week, Today Art Museum in Beijing, Chengdu Biennale, Song Art Museum in Beijing and Ming Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai. His recent fellowships and residencies include “Kai Wu” Interdisciplinary Studio residency, Media Art Lab, Times Museum; AACYF Top 30 under 30; Residency Unlimited; MacDowell Fellowship; Artist-in-residence at Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA) at Alfred University; Winner of The ROCI Road to Peace by Robert Rauschenberg Art Foundation. His work has been reviewed and featured by Artnet, Brooklyn Rail, It’s Nice That, Vogue Singapore, Hypebeast, ArtForum China, Wall Street International, New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), BIE, Neural Magazine, Vie Des Arts Magazine, ANTE Magazine, Frontrunner Magazine, LEAP Magazine, Coeval Magazine, Stir World Magazine and more.


Mary Johnson, Director of Foundations

Mary Johnson makes installations, works on paper and animations that interrogate how perception narrates our experiences. She has shown her work globally including the New York Hall of Science, the Nekrasov Library in Moscow, and the Cube Art Museum in Shanghai. Nationally, her work has been shown at BOX13 (Houston), Coconino Center for the Arts (Flagstaff) and Fort Worth Arts, among others. Her work has been in group exhibitions at CICA Museum in South Korea, the Consell of Formentera in Spain, and collected by the Shanghai Art Collections Museum. Additionally, her work has been included in multiple international publications, including Rebeka Elizegi’s book Collage by Women: 50 Essential Contemporary Artists (Madrid).

She joins Alfred University from the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas. She has taught at multiple institutions in China, including the Central Academy of Fine Art and as an invited critic to Tsinghua University. Her teaching practice is aimed at empowering emerging artists to manifest their individualized research interests into authentic and powerful visual representations of their own voices. She enjoys working with students and colleagues in a globally-focused curriculum.

“I look forward to participating in Alfred’s rich progressive history and being a part of a community that not only makes global advances in art and design, but does so while valuing both people and material. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaboratively lead the Foundations program at Alfred University and build upon a dynamic first year that is multidisciplinary and inspiring for its students”.

Isabel Monti, Foundations Technical Specialist

Isabel Monti is a multidisciplinary artist whose work aims to hold close and continue to communicate with late loved ones.  She just completed her MFA from Alfred University’s Alfred Düsseldorf Painting MFA program.  Here she has a focus in autobiographical figurative painting and neon light. She received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin Madison.  Monti grew up in Wisconsin and during her undergraduate studies spent seven months in Italy in 2018. She has participated in multiple group shows in Madison, WI, Alfred, NY, Brooklyn, NY, Dusseldorf, Essen, and Berlin Germany, and Florence Italy. 

Performing Arts Division

Heidi Jensen, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

As a musicologist, Heidi’s work contends with intersections of music and philosophy. She interrogates how shifting aesthetic narratives and ethical beliefs systems intertwine and shape our listening practices. Her current book project contends with song, and musical depictions of crime and sovereignty through philosophical notions of ‘sense’ and ‘event.’ Heidi's educational background is proudly interdisciplinary. She holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Florida, a dual master’s degree in guitar performance and music history from the University of New Mexico, and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (minor philosophy) from the University of Rochester.

Randy Wachtel, Production Manager & Professor of Practice in Performing Arts (joined in February 2022)

After earning his BFA in Theatre from Arkansas State University in 1995, Randy pursued his dream of being a musician and artist.  Years in Memphis, TN were followed by years in Austin, TX where he recorded in studios and did regional tours, while also free-lancing in theatres and performing spaces of all shapes and sizes. He founded and closed theatre companies where he acted, directed, designed, built, and often cursed people & playwrights (in a loving way). The past decade he earned his master’s degree in theatre from Texas A&M Commerce, while also teaching and managing a fifteen hundred seat performing arts space that regularly showcased student productions of all types from over twenty-five campuses. He is also a proud father of both an incoming Alfred University freshman and a soon to be 5th grader.

Jonathan Ziese, Assistant Professor of Theatre

Jonathan Ziese (he/him) is a stage and screen actor, director, writer, and educator originally from central Texas. He received his MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama in New York, and received BA's in Theatre and Asian Studies from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He has worked as a professional actor in New York, Minneapolis, and Phoenix. Along the way, he has appeared in the Warner Bros. movie "The Judge," the Hulu show "Deadbeat," in commercials, voice-overs, music videos, and in innumerable other projects. He has been a proud member of SAG-AFTRA since 2016. Jonathan has taught theatre at Estrella Mountain Community College, Arizona State University, South Mountain Community College, and through the Arizona Film Festival. He lives with his incredible wife Chrissy (a talented theatre practitioner in her own right), and their two amazing kids.

Jonathan states, “I am thrilled to be joining the community at Alfred University this fall. Theatre's vitality comes from being intensely collaborative, and I couldn't ask for a finer community of faculty, students, and staff to collaborate alongside. The cohort of artists at Alfred I've so far had the pleasure of interacting with have been, to the last person: invigorating, curious, and welcoming. Alfred is a place that proudly values the DOING of art, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty.”

Sculpture / Dimensional Studies

Rebecca Arday, Visiting Assistant Professor

Rebecca Arday holds an MFA from the Department of Art at The Ohio State University (2021) and a BFA in Glass from the School of American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology (2008). Rebecca’s sculptures and drawings interweave art, history, science, and experience. Often working in miniature scale, her pieces distill gigantic notions into intimate, alchemical, uncanny things. Utilizing found objects, glass, and amorphous materials, she explores (im)permanence and (in)stability in relation to the personal and societal.

William Wheeler, Assistant Professor of Sculpture

Will received his MFA at Yale in sculpture and BFA from Vassar.  Will’s artwork, uses technology to address issues of equity and inclusion to audiences outside of the traditional art world. As an undergraduate at Vassar College, Will studied philosophy and studio art, and won awards in community service excellence, specifically for teaching art to underserved elementary students. In 2015, Will joined Yale’s sculpture MFA program where he introduces sensors, mixed reality, and robotics into his artwork to elicit active participation from unsuspecting audiences. As a member of Yale’s Blended Reality research group, he continued to integrate art and technology to explore social norms. He exhibited techno-philosophical artworks in the U.S. and abroad, and prototyped electronics for the sculptor Nari Ward. In 2018, Will moved to Washington, D.C. to manage artist Sam Gilliam’s studio. His recent exhibits include an enormous robotic pencil that erases its own scribbles in a Sisyphean struggle and a collection of fleshy, autonomous spheres that challenge the conventions of human-machine interaction. For the last two years, Will has taught art concurrently at a bilingual elementary school, at the Corcoran School of Art, and at George Mason University. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he realized that current technology did not support the collaborative, spontaneous exercises necessary for art education. To address the gap, he worked with coders, teachers, and art therapists to build an art-making app that allows people to create together in real time, yet at a distance. Will is excited to continue developing new ideas and technologies that promote creativity, collaboration, and connection—especially among disparate communities.

As the Fall 2022 semester is approaching, we’d also like to take a moment to say goodbye to the amazing faculty who recently departed Alfred University. Thank you to Yoshiko Arahata, John Gill, Rïse Peacock, Lydia McCarthy, Maria Villanueva, Karen Donnellan, Judy Livingston, Augustine Uzor, Kevin Wixted, Megan Scheffer, and Whitney Hubbs for all the time they have spent working at Alfred University. Their presence on campus will be dearly missed and we wish them all the best!