Alumni Spotlights

Alumni from the Graduate School of Art have established thriving practices in cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Louis. They are employed in rewarding and engaging professions, including university teaching, gallery and museum curation, and arts organizations. Many pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, opening creative businesses of their own.

St. Louis has a thriving cultural scene. Our alumni have opened their first galleries, print shops, alternative spaces, and cooperatives here. This is where they got their start. You can go anywhere from here.

Learn more about the work of some of our exceptional alumni below, including Ebony G. Patterson, Lavar Munroe, Jill Downen, Vita Eruhimovitz, Adrian Cox, Carlie Trosclair, Ian Weaver, Yvonne Osei and Laylah Ali.

Ebony G. Patterson, MFA06

Artist's Statement
For almost five years, I have been exploring the idea of gardens, both real and imagined, and their relationship to postcolonial spaces. I am interested in how gardens – natural but cultivated settings – operate with social demarcations. I investigate their relationship to beauty, dress, class, race, the body, land, and death. These new works create an immersive installation – a nocturnal garden that acknowledges bodies and sites, that uses pageantry and beauty to create presence in ‘gardens’ gone awry. We come to pause, to bear witness, and to acknowledge…

Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981 in Kingston, Jamaica) earned her BFA from Edna Manley College, Kingston, Jamaica in 2004, and her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis in 2006. Patterson has had solo exhibitions and projects at many US institutions including the Baltimore Museum of Art (2019); The Studio Museum in Harlem (2016); the Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art (2016); and the SCAD Museum of Art in (Savannah, Georgia, 2016).

Dead Treez, Patterson’s first large-scale institutional solo show, originated at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI (2015), and traveled to the Museum of Arts and Design (New York, 2015); Boston University Art Galleries (2016); and UB Art Galleries ( University at Buffalo, New York, 2017). Her work was included in Open Spaces Kansas City (2018), the 32nd São Paulo Bienal: Live Uncertainty (2016); the 12th Havana Biennial: Between the Idea and the Experience (Cuba, 2015); Prospect.3: Notes for Now (New Orleans, 2014), and the Jamaica Biennial 2014 at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva Island, Florida (2017), and served on the Artistic Director’s Council for Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017).

Patterson has received numerous awards, including a Stone and DeGuire Art Award from the Sam Fox School (2018); United States Artist Award (2018); Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017); Joan Mitchell Foundation Art Grant (2015); and an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, in conjunction with Small Axe Project (2012). Her work is included in a number of public collections, including The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Arts and Design; Nasher Museum of Art (Duke University); Speed Art Museum (Louisville, Kentucky); 21c Museum Hotels; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); and the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Her first major survey exhibition, …while the dew is still on the roses…, opened at the Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2018, then toured to Speed Art Museum in 2019, and will subsequently travel at the Nasher Museum of Art in 2020. Patterson is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.

Image: Ebony G. Patterson, … when they grow up … Installation view at The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2016. Photo by Adam Reich. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Lavar Munroe, MFA13

Born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1982, Lavar Munroe is an interdisciplinary artist whose work encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation art, creating hybrid forms that straddle the line between sculpture and painting.

He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2007, and his Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from Washington University in 2013. In 2014, he was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received the Postdoctoral Award of Research Excellence. Munroe has exhibited widely, nationally and internationally. He was included in Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of The Swamp, the New Orleans triennial curated by Trevor Schoonmaker. Munroe’s work was featured in the 2015 Venice Biennale in the 56th International Art Exhibition All the World’s Futures, curated by the Biennale’s director, the late Okwui Enwezor. He represented The Bahamas at the 2010 Liverpool Biennial with a site-specific drawing project, and the 12th Dakar Biennial in Senegal, curated by Simon Njami.

He has been awarded residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the MacDowell Colony, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Center, Thread Senegal: Artist Residency & Cultural Center, a project of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and he is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. Most recent, Munroe was named an inaugural Artist in Residence at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach Florida.

Munroe has also exhibited at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Orlando Museum of Art, Nasher Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, SCAD Museum of Art, National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI) and the Meadows Museum, among others.

Munroe lives and works between Baltimore MD, and Nassau, Bahamas.

Image: Our Father; acrylic, spray paint, cap, condom wrappers, baby bibs, paper sword, Christian cross and BandAid on canvas, 72'' x 48'', 2019.

Jill Downen, MFA01

Jill Downen’s art envisions a symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture, where the exchanging forces and tensions of construction, destruction, and restoration emerge as thematic possibilities. Her visual-spatial language takes multiple forms including site-specific installations, models, drawings and public art. Her art engages culture with silence, stillness, and a context to alter perception and return to the speed of life with measured focus.

Jill Downen is the recipient of numerous awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award, the MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts residency, Cité International des Arts Residency in Paris, the Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Artists Award and a Santo Grant. She has created site specific installations for Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and American University Museum at the Katzen Center in Washington D.C., and The Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Her work, Architectural Folly from a Future Place, created for Open Spaces: The Exhibition, was recently acquired by the City of Kansas City and remains on permanent view in Swope Park. Downen has lectured about her work extensively at venues including the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Luce Irigaray Circle Philosophy Conference in New York. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA as a Danforth Scholar from Washington University in St. Louis. Jill Downen is Associate Professor and Chair of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute and is represented by Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis.

Image: Architectural Folly from a Future Place; concrete and stone, Kansas City, Missouri, 2018. Originally created for Open Spaces, the site-specific work was purchased by the Kemper Foundation for the city of Kansas City.

Vita Eruhimovitz, MFA15

Vita Eruhimovitz grew up in Israel and currently lives and works in New York. Vita holds a BFA from Shenkar College(2012) and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis (2015). Vita’s background in computer science and bioinformatics and her interest in science and technology inspire and inform her work. She works in multiple media such as painting, sculpture, and digital media. Her art has been shown nationally and internationally, including, the Museum of Design Holon in Israel, Mildred Lane Kemper Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis, Brattleboro Museum, Vermont, and at the San Diego Art Institute Museum. Her work has been shown with the Chashama Art Space, Black and White gallery, Walter Wickiser gallery, Denise Bibro gallery, and The Governors Island Art Fair in NYC, The Sheldon Gallery in Saint Louis, MO, and her public sculpture won the Best Artwork award at the Murmuration Art Science and Technology festival. She is the 2019 winner of Award of Distinction for recent alumni of the Sam Fox School of Visual Art and Design.

Image: The Bridge Over Greenland, oil and acrylic on canvas, 86 x 75”, 2019.

Adrian Cox (MFA12)

Artist’s Statement
My work forms the ongoing mythology of the Border Creatures, a group of hybrid beings that live in the verdant wilderness of the Borderlands. The Border Creatures exist in symbiotic harmony with the natural world, but are frequently antagonized by the Specters, beings of pure energy that casually burn the landscape that they walk upon. When these spirits first appeared, the destruction that they brought to the lush ecosystem of the Borderlands drove the creatures into hiding, and forced them to conceal their hybrid and non-binary nature in order to survive. In my recent solo exhibition, Terra Incognita, I chronicled the heroic journey of Healer, the leader and savior of the Border Creatures. By donning the Fatherdress, a supernatural garment that allowed Healer to become both mother and father to the creatures, the Specters were transformed, and Healer's people saved. However, there are still Specters that haunt the darkest corners of the Borderlands, and the Spectral Witnesses that beheld Healer's transfiguration still wander the forest.

In this personal mythology, I seek to raise questions that are fundamental to a contemporary human experience. These narratives speak to the inextricable ties between individual human identity and our cultural understanding of Nature. My paintings also challenge how we define the Monstrous and the Other, and propose a reconsideration of the categories of the natural and the transgressive. These mythic fictions suggest that there is no "pure" way to exist in the world. In the Borderlands, qualities that might be misunderstood as grotesque or monstrous are synonymous with beauty. Ultimately, these paintings present an exaltation of fluid identities, and imagines a place where the language of difference breaks down.

Adrian Cox (born 1988) is a painter living and working in Los Angeles, California. Cox attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate studies, and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors in 2010. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2012. From 2014 to 2018, Cox oversaw exhibition programming at the Millitzer Gallery, an alternative art space in Saint Louis, Missouri. He has exhibited his work nationally and abroad, including at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, and 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco.

Healer's Reverie, oil on canvas, 40" x 56", 2018. Private Collection.

Carlie Trosclair (MFA10)

Carlie Trosclair (b. New Orleans, LA) is a sculptor and installation artist who earned an MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, and a BFA from Loyola University New Orleans. Approached through a lens of reordering and discovery, Trosclair’s site-responsive installations create new topographies and narratives that highlight structural and decorative shifts that evolve over a building's lifespan. Select artist residencies include: Joan Mitchell Center (LA), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (NE), MASS MoCA (MA), chashama (NY), Oxbow (MI), Vermont Studio Center (VT), and The Luminary Center for the Arts (MO). Trosclair’s work has been featured in Art in America, The New York Times, ArtFile Magazine, and Temporary Art Review, among others. She is the recipient of the Riverfront Time's Mastermind Award, Creative Stimulus Award, Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellowship, and the Great Rivers Biennial. Trosclair was recently selected as an exhibiting artist for the inaugural Open Spaces Biennial in Kansas City, MO curated by Dan Cameron.

Image: Chrysalis: Reflections on the Interstitial, latex and salvaged wood, 25' x 17' x 9'5", 2019.

Ian Weaver (MFA08)

Ian Weaver is an assistant professor of Art at Saint Mary's College, South Bend, IN. Previously he served as an instructor in the Painting and Drawing, Foundations, Art Education, and Contemporary Practices’ departments at the School of the Art institute of Chicago (2009-2014). He earned his BA in Liberal Arts is from Columbia College in Chicago in 1993, and his MFA in Visual Art from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. His exhibitions include a survey of work (2004-2011) at the South Bend Museum of Art, as well as solo exhibitions at The Chicago Cultural Center (2015); the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (2014); Saint Louis Art Museum (2009-10); and the Packer Schopf Gallery (2010). Group exhibitions include shows at Kennesaw State University, Illinois State Museums, the Kemper Art Museum, and White Flag Projects. He has lectured as a visiting artist at various institutions, including Washington University in St. Louis, Notre Dame, and the University of Colorado. He has been awarded numerous residencies, including the Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts, Ox-Bow, the ISCP Residency, Yaddo, the Millay Colony, and Ragdale. His other recognitions include the inaugural Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award from Washington University in Saint Louis, as well as grants from Artadia, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Department of Cultural Affairs in Chicago.

My work utilizes media (Printmedia, drawing/collage, assemblage, sculpture, installation and film) which act as metaphors for “fracture”. I am interested in how we construct our own identities and memories from the disparate elements of our lives through our commemorations and the objects we construct and archive.

Artist’s Statement
The work centers on the Near West Side of Chicago and, specifically, the "Black Bottom" section of the Near West Side where black residents once lived. It was destroyed by urban renewal programs and as a result lost much of its history. My project has been to construct a fictive history for this community utilizing handmade, faux objects: museum vitrines, maps and documents, sculptures, textiles, and film. Additionally, I have created a fictional group, the Black Knights—part medieval knight, part Black Nationalist—who lived in the “Bottom”. They used political, social, and guerrilla tactics to fight for the community.

Image: Black Knight Archive: Migration, installation view, various media and sizes, 2015.

Yvonne Osei, MFA16

Yvonne Osei is a Ghanaian conceptual artist, designer, and art educator living in the United States. Her transnational creative practice explores the topics of beauty and colorism, the politics of clothing, the authorship of history, complexities associated with global trade, and the residual implications of colonialism in postcolonial West Africa and Western cultures. She describes herself as an outsider artist making insider art, affirming deep roots in traditional West African art and culture while actively participating in the study and practice of Western Art. The term “outsider artist” also references her outdoor creative practice, which is often fueled by travel and interactions in public spaces across various cultures on the European, African, and North American continents. Most recently, her work has been invested in scrutinizing the language and commodification of historical narratives, including how history is studied and understood as both a weapon of cultural destruction and a catalyst for rebuilding nations.

Osei earned her MFA from Washington University, where she was a Chancellor's Graduate Fellow, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer T. Olin Fellow, and Danforth Scholar. She earned a master's in fashion design and business from Lindenwood University in St. Louis. As a visiting artist scholar, she has been invited to Pentecost University (Accra, Ghana), Sterling College (Kansas), Indiana University (Bloomington), and TEDxGatewayArch (St. Louis). She has also led a scientist-artist collaborative titled “Fashion and the Brain” through the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Osei was the 2016–17 Romare Bearden Graduate Minority Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum. She received the 2018 Saint Louis Visionary Award for Emerging Artist, the 2018 Creative Stimulus Award by Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, and the 2019 Futures Fund Grant by The Luminary in St. Louis. She has attended residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She has also performed and exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, New York), Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (St. Louis), Lambert International Airport (St. Louis), University of Houston, Laumeier Sculpture Park (St. Louis), Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (Overland, Kansas), PLUG Projects (Kansas City), Lone Star Art District (San Antonio), Bijlmermeer (Amsterdam), Ariana Park (Geneva, Switzerland), Giardini della Biennale (Venice), and Elmina Castle (Cape Coast, Ghana).

Osei is currently the inaugural curator-in-residence for the Millstone Gallery at the Center of Creative Arts and an adjunct professor at Webster University. Her solo exhibitions Who Discovers the Discoverer? and Sea to Shining Sea were recently on view at the Bruno David Gallery, where she is represented.

Image: Africa Clothe Me Bare, Bloomington, Yvonne Osei, photograph, 2019.

Laylah Ali, MFA94

The work of Laylah Ali is meticulous and enigmatic. Her small, jewel-like gouache paintings can take months to plan and execute, yet they depict scenes of social ambiguity and psychological tension. Drawing on comic strips, hieroglyphs, contemporary and historical events, and other sources, her distinctive visual language is at once wide-ranging and aesthetically disciplined, formally rigorous and emotionally unsettling.

Born in Buffalo in 1968, Ali earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Williams College in 1991 and her Master of Fine Arts from Washington University in 1994. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. Her work was featured at the 2003 Venice Biennale and the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Ali's works are included in the permanent collections of numerous public institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and the Walker Art Center. She is the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Art and shows with the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York.

Ali was awarded the Sam Fox School Dean's Medal—the School's highest honor—in 2017 in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of art. Read more about that honor—and Ali's practice—in this story.

Image: Laylah Ali, Untitled (Acephalous series), 2015. Gouache, acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on paper, 40 x 51 inches, 101.6 x 129.5 cm, (PK 20144). © Laylah Ali. Images courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY.