12 Questions with 2019 MFA Graduate Hannah McBroom


1. Can you tell me a little bit about you?

I grew up in Mississippi and went to MSU as an undergrad. I decided to go to the University of Arkansas after taking a year off. I recently moved to Overland Park and have all my plants spread out in the house. I love Thai food and going camping in the spring and fall. I have a fear of motorized machines and get a migraine if there is a scented candle lit in the room. 

2. What first inspired you to begin making art?

Peer pressure. My friends in high school were making art pieces in Mrs. Pigg’s classroom during 5th period and I wanted a way to skip athletics. I feel in love with using the supplies in her classroom and dreamt of being an artist one day. 

3. What is your studio like?

At the moment my studio is floating somewhere between my desk in my bedroom where I work on sketches to downstairs in the actual studio where the painting happens. I’ve been enjoying the bedroom more because there’s a window overlooking the neighborhood and I can see people walking by with their dogs. The downstairs studio is next to the water heater and ac unit which is completely surrounded by concrete, wooden beams, and duct work. A month ago I invested in some noise cancellation head phones so I could focus on what I’m doing without the hum of the units distracting me. 

4. Do you listen to music when you’re painting? What are some artists you’re currently listening to?

Usually I’m listening to Morten Lauridsen. A lot of time it’s The National or Lake Street Dive. I switch between mildly depressing and melodic to upbeat music. The upbeat music is generally to keep me awake in the afternoons. Recently I haven’t been listening to anything. My roommate’s cat has made his primary place to lounge during the day on my bed behind me. I’ve been enjoying the purrs while I’m fussing over a sketch with a cup of tea brewing slowly next to me.

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5. Can you talk a little about your process?

I gather a lot of material in my head, like watching a butcher pick out fish from the ice or the look a roommate gives you in the hallway last Tuesday at 9:30 pm. Out of all those moments I channel them into two different concepts I’ve been working with the last few months: how do I show vulnerability without censorship and how has my body been shaped by outside forces. I make a lot of sketches around certain ideas I have about these ideas and make studies of how they would look and feel in a certain space. I’m imagining these smaller oil paintings blown up to 6’ in scale and in a room where people are milling in and out. Would they notice the veiny arms of this woman standing in the kitchen or the mark making that’s providing the structure of her knees? So I experiment in the early stages and see what could possibly work. If the painting feels dead then it’s time to change it up. If I’m bored with a painting it’s just not going to work. 

6. What ideas are you exploring in your work?

I worked with coordinators for shows on what works could be shown this year. I ran into a lot of restraints when it came to showing pieces that contained nudity or results of violence. Some coordinators were all for it but couldn’t show the pieces because of viewers who might disagree with those images. I want to show paintings that can vulnerable moments or things that might be uncomfortable for some viewers. How can I make an image that isn’t so easily flagged as immodest? Can I make a painting that has a penis in it and make it “modest?” I want to play with that border between modesty and depravity a bit. Not to make someone uncomfortable but to show the similarities between the two. Can a painting have a penis in it without being sexual? How can a viewer who’s not familiar with trans bodies become engrossed with the image/painting despite their discomfort with a penis or something sexual in nature? I want to make that moment more for myself because there’s things I still need to feel from my own paintings.    

Another way in looking at this is studying how my body or idea of a body has been shaped by others. I’m living in a suburban neighborhood for the first time ever. There’s strip malls and upper middle class people running around everywhere. My last home had queers and struggling families trying to get by. I never had to think about my appearance or what I wear to throw out trash at 7 am on a Wednesday. So my identity as an artist and person is shifting. With that shifting I’m going back and trying to articulate these smaller moments of how my identity as a trans woman has shifted the last several years. What does it mean to have an authentic self? Can you create an identity without outside influence? How much of my identity has been shaped by sex, academia, and my personal life? So part of my paintings now are about finding an identity while situating outside a traditional binary. Some of the paintings I’m working on now is my body or a friends that’s uncomfortable with being in a situation like the bedroom or grocery store. 

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7. Who/What are influences for your work?

A lot of female painters like Lisa Yuskavage and Cecily Brown. Women who worked against how women were expected to paint at the time and instead focused on what they needed their paintings to do. There’s several art museums and galleries in KC so I’ll go there and get a massive art high and run home and knock out an area on a painting I was struggling with that week. There’s so many good drawings and paintings there. 

8. How do you overcome ‘failure’?

Failure was always a bad word even when I was in grad school. I resisted failing so much i failed at the thing I was trying to do the first two years. I recently started making watercolors because there’s a level of failure built into the process of controlling pigmented fluids. For me I’ve been leaning into failure more as a way to create new marks or to find out things about what my process could be. For me the only way to overcome failure is try new things and stop sitting on the same habits. The studio is about messing up and I enjoy the process of shifting through every possibility for a solution. 

9. How do you seek out opportunities?

I go to events, talk to people, check online, catch up with old friends/contacts. A lot of the opportunities this year came from putting myself out into the world and trusting that it would give back. I’ve been very fortunate that the relationships I built while in grad school have given me opportunities to show and collaborate. My favorite thing to do now is go to show openings and mingle with people several times a month. Generally after a few times people tend to remember my face and we have conversations about the art world. 

10.  If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as an incoming 1st year grad, what advice would you give?

“Don’t let your pride get in the way of doing something really dumb. You will fail so lighten up a bit. Actually, if you could just be even dumber and just do that thing your professor kept suggesting you do, do that but on a whole other level.”


11.  What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?

Too many! I’ve had so many opportunities this year to showcase and sell work, meet new people, go to new places. What I’m really proud of is starting a studio practice in a new city without stressing over finding a day job. I’ve had time to experiment and research new avenues while making work in the studio. 

12.  What are you working on now?

I’m working on a series of works about how trans bodies are formed under different moments. A lot of the images I’ve been developing are from personal experience but are influenced by friends stories of struggles and triumphs. Everything’s in oil but I’m started everything out with a smaller sketch/oil study. I wanted a way to screw up on a smaller scale so I could find out where all the good parts were for the larger pieces. I’m also researching material for a book I’m writing with a friend on how the porn industry has affected the representation of transwomen outside that industry. It’s most likely going to take several years to research and produce.

12 Questions with 2019 MFA Graduate Jody Thompson


1. Can you tell me a little bit about you?

Ok, so ill keep this one kind of simple. I am originally from southwest Louisiana and spent 20 years on the east coast in NYC and New Jersey before moving to Fayetteville for Grad School. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for over 10 years. My cat is named Willow.

2. What first inspired you to begin making art?

In 1980, I watched the movie Xanadu for the first time. It is one of those movies that is so bad, that it circles back around to being good. It was a musical about an artist who falls in love with one of the nine greek muses of mythology. The music is, literally, big bands of the 40s meets roller disco and hard rock. I have a tendency to find a movie and watch it hundreds of times. I would go back and forth between wanting to be Sonny, the artist, and Kira, the muse. It was about this time that I started watching bob Ross every Saturday morning. I asked my mama to get me an oil painting set. I would sit and watch one of his episodes, and then, after it was over, run back into my room and duplicate what I had seen him do. Eventually, she wanted to put new carpet in my room because mine was covered in paint. She made a deal with me that if I wouldn’t paint in there anymore, she would enroll me in oil painting classes.

3. What is your studio like?

Opposite of my home. Where my home is organized, neat, and always clean, my studio is not. My friends in nyc used to call my studio the Seven room, after the movie “Seven”. Its always been a little scary. Not so much anymore. I need to be able to glance around and see a full spectrum of the definition of “beautiful”. I also tend to leave brushes and pallets and anything that I am working on where it is when I leave the studio. When I am getting ready to go into the studio, showering, putting on my clothes and such, I am mentally already in the studio. Thinking. I am seeing what the game plan is for the day. By the time I drive to the studio and walk in the door, there is no sitting and getting ready. I just walk in, put my bag down, and pick up a brush.

4. Do you listen to music when you’re painting? What are some artists you’re currently listening to?

What I listen to in the studio depends on what I am doing in the studio. If the painting needs predictable, repetitive marks that don’t require a lot of decision making, I like cheesy, pop music or audio books that have to do with fantasy. If what I am working on has to do with layers of materials or more formal interactions on the surface, I listen to classical, any metal music that has layering, movie soundtracks (interstellar, 2049, arrival, etc.). when working with gestural mark or active movement on the surface, faster, more chaotic music is required. And when all else fails, Tori Amos always saves the day.


5. Can you talk a little about your process?

Questions 2, 3, & 4 are definitely part of my process. However, I do not begin to paint what I am thinking about. I think; I read; I research; but when I walk into the studio, as Ive said before, I do have a plan or an idea of what direction I want to go. However, I do try to keep an open mind and try not to limit my decision making process to much to specifics. For instance, if working on realism, painting skin, I know that I am going to using flesh tones, but I wait until I am looking through tubes of paint to decide what hues I want to use. When focusing on materiality in a painting, I may know that I am wanting to use resin to achieve a veiling effect. I wait until I am digging through different materials to mix with the resin before I decide what to use. When working in a geometric, abstract way, I may know that I am looking to create gradients of tone and value. I look at the texture of the surface before deciding what material to use.

I usually have 4 or 5 paintings going at a time, so that when I get to a stopping point on one, or just need to not look at it for a while, I can move on to another one to keep the momentum of making going.

6. What ideas are you exploring in your work?

I am exploring the process of memory and the mutability of perception. I have third person memories from my childhood that makes me question what is real. I view memory as a combination of abstraction and realism. Sort of how dreams morph and change through the process of experiencing them. I am exploring what it means to be a white, gay man in America and how that experience has been influenced by the hegemonic, patriarchal, white society that I fit so easily into. Im exploring the influence evangelical christianity has had on masculinity. I am exploring camouflage, how we perceive something can be manipulated without having to change the truth, the literal structure of it.

7. Who/What are influences for your work?

Make-up tutorials on youtube; Caravaggio; music that moves back and forth and is layered; when I form an opinion about something that I am 100% sure of and then find out I was wrong; ancient technology theories; monkey bars; shooting stars; friction; seismic images; archaeology; certain hashtags on instagram; severe weather, meditation

8. How do you overcome ‘failure’?

Because the surface of a painting is very important in establish the history of what the painting, the actual object, went through to be its final self, failure equals process for me. There is not a point where I stand back from a painting and think, “wow, that painting is a failure” and then throw the canvas away. Even if I paint over it completely, the textures that it brings to subsequent layers end up being necessary. Also, there have been paintings, the stretched canvas or object itself, that I finally just stopped painting over. I have put them in storage only to find them 10 or 20 years later. That much time away has given me the space to grow and change as a person. This emotional distance inevitably has allowed me to either solve the problems or paint over it and use the textures.

9. How do you seek out opportunities?

Opportunities as far as showing/selling work, have come from networking and building relationships with other artists and professionals WITHOUT the specific intention to show/sell work. While I do apply for shows, it is the personal relationships with other likeminded people that place me exactly where I am supposed to be.

10. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as an incoming 1st year grad, what advice would you give?

They are not going to change their minds and tell you that they don’t want you here. They are not going to kick you out for making too many paintings. When you don’t know what you are doing, make more things to look at. Keep taking notes WHILE YOU ARE MAKING!!!! Your own words will tell you what you are thinking

11. What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?

My thesis show was one of the most accomplished moments of my career so far. The freedom and time to devote all of my resources for 1 year to building a huge, amazing body of work was something that I had only dreamed of being able to do. Selling work is always wonderful, but deciding, at 44 years old to go back to grad school, and finish that 3 years with flying colors…. That’s freaking amazing.

12. What are you working on now?

My thesis left off with seeing how trompe l’oiel realism could be in conversation with geometric abstraction. I am pushing that notion to begin to use figurative painting with many different types of abstract methods. Questions 4 - 8 are ongoing.

Sara Schellenberg at Mt. Gretna

“I attended the Mt. Gretna School of Art Summer Intensive Program, which is a seven week painting program in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania that emphasizes landscape painting and figure drawing. This program was a transformative learning experience, due to the rigorous schedule, the incredible rotating faculty, and visiting lecturers and critics. Not only was I able to learn from a set of amazing painters and artists from around the country, but this program also included trips to museums and galleries in New York and Philadelphia. This program was an incredible experience for me because I was able to work alongside other serious painting students in an intensive setting and because I also had the liberty to pursue independent projects outside of class-time, which allowed me to experiment with my improved skills. I returned from Mt. Gretna even more excited about painting than I was before.”

- Sara Schellenberg

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John Yau visits Fayetteville and the School of Art


The award-winning poet, art critic, and writer for Hyperallergic came to the School of Art as a 2019-2020 McIlroy Family Visiting Professor. John Yau held a group discussion with the MFA students, gave studio visits to the MFA Painting students, and lectured at the Hillside Auditorium during his visit. Outside of the university, John Yau also participated in a poetry reading at the Fayetteville Public Library.

Ashley Nielsen at Ox-Bow

This summer, I was given the privilege to attend Ox-Bow school of art for a week of class. The course I took was The Portrait as a starting point, which covered material I already knew, as well as expanded my knowledge on portraiture, color, light, as well as expanding my knowledge on what a portrait can be. To put it simply, Ox-Bow is a magical place, one where artists are nurtured and encouraged to explore their artistic passions, all while in an incredible location that feels like a refuge from the world around us.


BFA Student Justice Henderson in Rome Summer 2019

“I went to Italy with the School of Art in Rome program this summer. I took ARTS 495V Space, Light and Points of View with Dylan DeWitt in which we used light and optics to explore the relationship between the 3D and 2D world. I also took ARTS 495V Special Topics: Perspective on Rome, History and Drawing with Kasey Ramirez in which we translated the city and its history through observational drawing. I learned so much from just being in Italy, specifically Florence, Capri, Procida, Venice and of course, Rome, that my five-week adventure brought the pages of an art history textbook to life. I am thankful that I got to go and would recommend for other students to study abroad, too.” - Justice Henderson

MFA Student Taylor Loftin at Skowhegan Summer 2019

“Since the 1940s, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture has provided emerging artists with the opportunity to work alongside notable and established artists of the day in an immersive and intensive, 9-week summer residency program. This rich, creative history has shaped the landscape of Skowhegan. The energy is palpable and electric, and it infiltrates all aspects of resident life there. The general atmosphere is one of generosity and kindness, and the conversations I had with my fellow participants affected me deeply. I learned that engaging with our creative communities is a vital part of creative life and we, as members of those communities, have a responsibility to maintain and care for them. It is our responsibility to create open platforms for a broad spectrum of conversation and experience. I was given the time and space to dive deeper into my own artistic practice and uncover new avenues of thought and inquiry. I will carry this experience with me for years to come.” - Taylor Loftin

Kristin Musgnug's recent summer residency and current show at Inman Gallery.

Associate Professor of Painting Kristin Musgnug recently returned from a July residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming. While there, she worked outdoors as well as in the studio, investigating patterns in nature and working at the site of a recent forest fire.


Kristin Musgnug

Disturbed Ground

Inman Gallery, Houston, TX 

on view July 12 - September 7, 2019

artists' reception, Friday, September 6, 6-8pm

10 Reasons to Get Your MFA in Painting @ UARK

  1. ALL students in the M.F.A. Studio Art program receive full-financial support!  

    We are able to provide full assistantships to all of our MFAs which includes a full tuition waiver plus an annual stipend and Graduate Fellowship. For the 2018-2019 academic year every one of our MFA students received a total package of $19,000 of support per year on top of a tuition waiver!

  2. Advance your practice and learn new techniques!
    Students enter the program in one of 6 media areas—ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. While it is expected that students will have a strong interest in their chosen medium, they are encouraged to explore other media and work across disciplines.

  3. World-class faculty!

    Our faculty come from a vast range of educational backgrounds! Our programs max out a three students per discipline, so MFAs can get a ton of quality time with their respective faculty! In addition to topical-seminars, students may request independent studies with faculty from any media area!

    Check out our Faculty page for a full-list of faculty.

  4. Small town, global mindset!

    University of Arkansas MFA students enjoy close proximity to the global art world through weekly visiting artists! Students gain insight through studio visits, lectures, and even meals with our visiting artists! 2017-2018 visiting artists in painting included Katherine Bradford, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Dana Frankfort, and Laylah Ali!

  5. Interested in teaching? We’ve got you covered!

    All MFA students who express a desire to teach are given the opportunity to work as teaching assistants during their first year. Second and third year students can apply to teach undergraduate classes as Instructor of Recod!

  6. Interested in curatorial experience? We got you there too!

    Our relationship with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art affords numerous opportunities for internships. Our students have also frequently assisted with installation at 21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville. Students are also able to gain curatorial experience on the UA campus through the FNAR Gallery, sugAR Gallery, and the Sculpture Gallery!

  7. Spacious studios!

    All MFA students receive private studio spaces to which they have 24-hour access. Painting studios are located at One East, on the Fayetteville Town Square, or on campus at Stone House or the Sculpture Building. Painting studios range between 200-300 square feet!

  8. Facilities
    In addition to studio spaces, our MFAs have access to a huge range of media-specific facilities. Painting students particularly enjoy:

    vinyl cutter
    professional level documentation set-up
    full woodshop facilities
    painting-only priming and assembly stations

    See the UArk MFA Program page for a detailed list of facilities.

  9. Living in Northwest Arkansas, not what you might expect!

    HyperAllergic named NWA ‘America’s newest Art Pilgrimage!

    Located in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks, Fayetteville frequently receives accolades as one of America’s best places to live, by such publications as Forbes, Kiplingers and Business Week. If you like outdoor recreation, the Ozarks are a hub for activities such as hiking, mountain bikingcanoeingfishing, and rock climbing.

    Being immersed in the Northwest Arkansas community is important to our mission as a School of Art. Graduate studios and sUgAR Gallery are located on Fayetteville’s downtown square and participate in Fayetteville’s enormously popular First Thursday events.

    Our proximity to Bentonville and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art affords numerous opportunities for student interaction.

    Additional art destinations in the area include: The Momentary (Crystal Bridges’ forthcoming contemporary venue), The Walker Arts Center, and 21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville.

  10. Travel and residency funding—need we say more?

    Numerous travel grants are provided to our students to attend summer opportunities including the UA Art in Rome program, the Vermont Studio Center residencies, Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Chautauqua Institute Visual Arts Program, the New York Studio School, and Mount Gretna School of Art.

    The School of Art awards four M.F.A. Project Grants each spring and fall semester, to support creative research and professional development.

    Additional grants to support graduate student travel to present their work are offered through the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.


The deadline for application to the MFA program is January 15, 2019. We welcome interested students to either visit the department firsthand or to speak with the faculty about their interest in the program before applying. To request a visit to the department or for more information, please direct inquiries to Kristin Musgnug at kmusgnug@uark.edu.

Specific instructions on applying can be found on the School of Art's MFA Program page,

UA Faculty Published in 'New American Paintings'

Congratulations to UA Painting and Drawing faculty members, Marc Mitchell, and Dylan Dewitt who were selected for the most recent edition of New American Paintings: South (#136).

Spring 2019 Visiting Artists



Painters marked with asterisks.

Jan 24 - Amy Elkins


Jan 31 - Adam Welch


Feb 21- Barb Smith


Feb 28 - Santa Barraza *


March 14 - Micheal Yap


April 4 - Andrew Witkin


April 18 - Carrie Moyer *


April 25 - Emma Nishimura


Fall 2018 Wrap-Up, Visiting Artists

The University of Arkansas School of Art enjoyed an incredible line-up of visiting artists this semester! These esteemed creators spent time in the studio with our MFA students, giving lectures, having shows, and generally enriching the artistic community of NWA!

Painters marked with asterisks.

Aug 30 - Matty Davis


Alicia Eggert

Sept 6 - Alicia Eggert


Sept 20 - Jaimie Warren


Oct 4- Zach Feuer


Dana Frankfort

Dana Frankfort

Oct 11- Dana Frankfort *


Oct 18- Corin Hewitt


Nov 1 - Future Retrieval


Laylah Ali

Laylah Ali

Nov 9 - Laylah Ali *


Nov 15 - Jelili Atiku


Nov 29 - Matt Ducklo


Elise Raborg shortlisted for prestigious XL Catlin Art Prize

Congratulations to BFA candidate Elise Raborg on being shortlisted for the first ever XL Catlin Art Prize for her painting Home Again!

40 student artists were selected from over 700 submissions nationally. The 40 works will travel to exhibitions in San Francisco and Chicago this fall, and go on view at the New York Academy of Art in November. The first prize award will be chosen by Amy Sherald, New York Academy of Art Senior Critic Eric Fischl and Nicole Eisenman, and will win $10,000. Starting on August 12, the Prize launches an Audience Award via Instagram for the piece with the most likes, so follow @xlcatlinartprize to vote!

Hannah McBroom completes second Chautauqua residency

Another successful summer artist in residency! These three works by M.F.A. candidate Hannah McBroom were created during her residency at the Chautauqua Institution and chosen for the student exhibition!  #uarkart #chautauqua

Avery Teeter at the New York Studio School

BFA Painter, Avery Teeter, attended the New York Studio School's 2 week summer Painting Marathon with support from the UArk School of Art. She studied the human figure through oil painting with painter Joseph Santore.  While in the city she created multiple paintings focusing on composing the figure within the rectangle and careful consideration to color, shape, and proportion.

Hannah McBroom at Arsagas at the Depot

Have you been by Arsaga's at the Depot to see the great works of M.F.A. candidate Hannah McBroom? If not, go today and see her thoughtful paintings that explore how bodies can disclose identity, and at the same time, how identities do not fully belong to the individuals portrayed. #UARK #uarkart