Alumni Stories & Careers

Our alumni are successful artists, educators, curators, writers, and innovators. While still in the program, students have many opportunities to build a strong foundation and network for a thriving career post graduation.

Featured Alumni

Samantha Wall Watershed Pm print media pnca

Samantha Wall '11

Immediately on graduating, Samantha Wall was awarded the MFA Grant Award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and was invited to participate in First Look III as one of the nation’s 12 most promising graduate art students. Since then, she has been awarded the Arlene Schnitzer Prize at the Portland Art Museum and a semi-finalist for the Portland Art Museum’s Contemporary Northwest Art Awards.

Samantha Wall's work has been featured in both solo and group exhibitions regionally and nationally. Recent exhibitions include an invitational at The Loving Festival in New Orleans, LA, with her work featured at the Stella Jones Gallery, and participation in A Likeness: Works in Contemporary Portraiture, at The Archer Gallery, Clark College, Vancouver, WA. She is represented by Russo Lee Gallery.

Pnca Mfa Vs Aruni Dharmakirthi 2017

Aruni Dharmakirthi ‘17

Aruni Dharmakirthi is a Sri Lankan born artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Dharmakirthi’s work has been shown in galleries including Housing in Brooklyn, NY, Disjecta in Portland, OR, and Sonam Studios in Mumbai, India. In addition to their artistic practice, Aruni co-curates Soft Space, a video + new media curatorial project that exists as a digital archive and pop-up events.

quilted work of art reading Our Best Machines are Made of Sunshine, Paige Saez MFA in Visual Studies Thesis Work, 2009

Paige Saez '09

Paige Saez (MFA in Visual Studies ’09) is an Experience Designer and Front End Developer in San Francisco whose clients have included Laika, Intuit, AAA, Nike, Yammer, IFTTT, Proctor & Gamble, Levi's, Coca-Cola and NASA. She is currently Creative and Design Director at DesignLab in Oakland, California.

Takahiro Yamamoto

Originally from Shizuoka Japan, Takahiro Yamamoto is an artist and choreographer based in Portland. He has received support from National Performance Network, Japan Foundation, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium, danceWEB scholarship program, and others. Both of his performance productions and visual art works have been presented at GoDown Arts Centre (Nairobi), Bedlam Lowertown (St. Paul), Fresh Festival (San Francisco), Center on Contemporary Arts (Seattle), Rowan Gallery (Los Angeles), and Disjecta (Portland). As a performer, he has performed for Morgan Thorson, Xavier Le Roy, Mårten Spångberg, Keith Hennessy, Jmy James Kidd, Perseverance Theatre Company and others. He co-directs a performance company madhause with Ben Evans, and a part of Portland-based support group Physical Education with Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, and Lu Yim. Read more in this this profile of Taka.

Sean J Patrick Carney '09

Sean Carney is a comedian, visual artist, writer, publisher, and educator who is a member of Bruce High Quality Foundation University. In 2009, Carney founded Social Malpractice Publishing, an independent artist book label. In 2011, he co-founded the Conceptual Oregon Performance School (C.O.P.S.), a free, artist-run summer institute that focuses on contemporary performance strategies and critical theory. He is 1/3 of GWC, Investigators, a collaborative paranormal research team.

His works and performances have been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including Marlborough Gallery, New York; The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles; Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Printed Matter, Inc, New York City; the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada; and the 2009 Amsterdam Biennale.

figure draped in fabric with covered head How I Envisioned The Earlier Self Portrait, Delaney Allen

Delaney Allen '10

Delaney Allen’s conceptual self-portraiture, still-life, and landscape photography has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally. Most recently, he was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s “51 Instagram Photographers To Follow” for 2016. In 2015 he was chosen as “One Of Portland’s Five Artists To Watch” by the Portland Monthly. He was awarded as a Flash Forward Emerging Photographer by the Magenta Foundation in 2013 and was chosen to attend Alec Soth’s Camp For Socially Awkward Storytellers in the same year. His first publication, Between Here And There, was awarded “Best Books Of 2010” by Photo-Eye Magazine. Some of his commercial clients include Arrowhead, Domino Records, Bud Light, and Travel Portland, Fader Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and WIRED. He is represented commercially by Redeye.

art by Tabitha Nikolai

​Tabitha Nikolai​ '14

Tabitha Nikolai is an artist, writer, educator, and organizer who believes that artists have the responsibility to take care of one another. She believes in information systems as a rallying point for revolution. The sprawling sandboxes and collapsed time streams of digital platforms host potential for radical undoing, rethinking, and transmuting. Employing the structures and power of emergent media, text, and trend, Nikolai traces reverberating feedback loops from meatspace to the metaverse and back. Across occult systems, technological and magical, she endeavors to momentarily manifest the physical latent in the virtual, and virtualize the visceral. Residing in the vectors betwixt these points she thrives between: always ad-hoc, transdisciplinary, and transgender. She acknowledges the circumstances of acceleration: accelerating technology, and accelerating crisis. She acquiesces to the former, but not the latter. Nikolai has exhibited recently at Ganka Gallery (Tokyo), Shoot the Lobster (New York), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), and she has forthcoming exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Oregon University.

PICA's Time-Based Art Festival

The Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival produced by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art brings an international group of performers and visual artists to Portland for a ten-day festival, and our students are there for all of it! PNCA partners with PICA to host festival exhibitions we are the primary location for the TBA Institute with talks, panels, and workshops. Our students attend countless performances, exhibitions, and events and have plenty of time to hang out with artists at the after-hours Works venue.

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Caldera Residency

Over ten days at the Caldera Artist Residency in beautiful rural Oregon, second-year MFA in Visual Studies students selected through open application process gather with visiting artists, scholars, curators, critics to engage in art making, research, and visual and written investigations. Previous guests have included Julie Ault, Gregg Bordowitz, Saul Ostrow, Tom Zummer, Alix Pearlstein, Kate Gilmore, and Amanda Hunt.

the opening of GroundCover at Lodge Gallery at Allied Works Architecture

Lodge Gallery

First Thursday opening receptions at the Lodge Gallery are well attended by the greater PNCA art community. This off-campus gallery exclusively hosts exhibitions organized by and featuring work by candidates in the MFA Visual Studies program.

Open Studios

Each semester, students hold an Open Studios event. Friends and fellow students, faculty and staff and the wider public tour studios and view works. Students make new connections and benefit from conversations about works in progress.

career readiness

The Talent Hub

The Talent Hub hosts dozens of professional development workshops each semester, from grant writing to contracts for artists to building websites. The Talent Hub also helps students find internships and jobs and hosts events for recruiters.

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Get in touch

Get in touch with Shairta Towne, who oversees the MFA in Visual Studies.

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