[Land]scape | Artist Biographies & Statements

Andrea Benge  |  First Year MFA Candidate, Painting

Andi Benge is a first year Graduate Painting student at Mason. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from Kansas State University, where she was awarded several grants and scholarships, including the Dale Weary Clore Scholarship. Her work has been featured in many national exhibitions including THE LITTLE BIG ART SHOW at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego, CA, INK ’n’ IRON KULTURE KLASH ART SHOW on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, a FIRST FRIDAY solo show at Bailiwick in Anchorage, AK, and has work in many international private collections.

About the Work Welcome To Andiland, mixed media, 2018:

Working in several media, I use a variety of campy materials to create a whimsical plastic wonderland of immersive installations. Through performance I embody my alter ego Bunni who invites viewers into a dreamworld otherwise known as Andiland.  Here, vulnerable female nudes are surrounded by playful objects and bright colors drawn from a tumultuous adolescence. Beyond the sweet surface lies a critical attempt to confront the taboos surrounding female sexuality and celebrate it’s dangerous archetypal allure.  My piece, Welcome to Andiland, is a passageway enticing viewers into my personal mind[scape].

www.andreabenge.com  | . Instragram @andreabengeart

Jorge Bañales  |  First Year MFA Candidate, Photography

Jorge Bañales explores what exists on the periphery of cities, the semi-rural, semi-urban, abandoned places where nature still thrives despite the human footprint. Looking at what hides in plain sight, away from the noise of daily life, Bañales presents these places are they are, without a narrative or interpretation. “The state these spaces are in is in itself an interpretation of human interaction with nature,” says Bañales. “A moment in space and time that is stimulating and unsettling, but at the same time peaceful, calming, contemplative, reflective and meditative.”

About the Work Landover Mall, digital photograph and video, 2018:

Over the past couple of years and especially this semester I have been exploring what was once Landover Mall in Maryland. The now extinct large shopping mall sat off of MD 202 and right next to Interstates 95 and 495—the Beltway—and across from FedEx Field. Opening in 1972 with four major department stores as anchors—Hecht’s, Garfinckel’s, Sears and Woodward & Lothrop—it was a major shopping destination in Prince George’s County.

For 30 years, with its three large water fountains, a six-screen theater, and annual secular Holiday display, the mall was the focal point of the surrounding neighborhoods. It provided employment, entertainment, and it was where people met to socialize. The invisible. Memory.

The mall closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2006. All that remains now is the dilapidated framework of what once was a sign with the mall’s logo, three circles each representing a loop within the Capital Beltway, in lights. There is a new mall across the highway and a sign at Landover Mall states new development is coming soon. The visible.

www.jorgebanales.com  |  Instagram @unspooled

Brigitte Caramanna  |  Second Year MFA Candidate, Printmaking

Brigitte Caramanna was born in Nassua Bay, Texas though she has spent the majority of life living in New Jersey, Long Island, and New York City. She graduated with a BFA from Adelphi University; concentrating in printmaking and with a minor in psychology. She received the Presidential Purchase Award at Adelphi’s BFA Thesis Exhibition. Her work has been part of numerous exhibits, including many juried shows, and has been interviewed for publications. Her work is part of both public and private collections.

Caramanna thoroughly examines details of nature, allowing careful consideration for what is possible in the universe. Her work serves to uncover mysteries, form connections, and convey excitement for all that is yet to be discovered. The intricacies of her etchings are used to portray the expansiveness of the universe. Caramanna appreciates the fragility of life while she aims to understand the significance of it.

About the Work: Dawn of Demise, etchings, 2018:

I have a passion for experiencing and attempting to translate the beauty in places that provide me with the feeling of being on another planet or earth in prehistoric times. I am intrigued by places that are seemingly untouched by civilization. In Dawn of Demise I present the first human tool which has brought many accomplishments to humanity. However, I am also considerate of all the negative effects human intelligence has had on the earth.


Danielle Dravenstadt  |   First Year MFA Candidate, Photography

Danielle Dravenstadt is an interdisciplinary artist, specializing in photography, with an MA in Art Education from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA in Studio Art from Furman University. Using photography, painting, printmaking, and assemblage, she manifests inner realities into outward expressions, articulating nuanced perceptions of everyday life.

About the Work Mend, 2018, and Unravel, archival pigment prints, 2018:

I create artwork to challenge the ordinary, transforming simple gestures of care into radical expressions of acceptance through photography and installation. My work investigates physical and perceptual territories, laying bare colliding sensations of isolation and connection. I want the work to influence how people think about care and connection in their daily lives.


Kate Fitzpatrick  |  Second Year MFA Candidate, Painting

Kate Fitzpatrick is an artist and educator born in Virginia, but raised as a global nomad.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and then moved to the southwest to complete graduate studies in art education at The University of New Mexico.  Fitzpatrick is curious how different systems contribute to human behaviors and how communication and memory play an important role in developing individual and group experiences. Fitzpatrick has been shaped by the places she has lived, and looks for the intersections of how communication plays a specific part in the human condition.

katesfitzart.com  |  Instagram @katesfitz

Emily Fussner  |  Third Year MFA Candidate, Printmaking

Emily Fussner works site-responsively, approaching sculpture and installation through printmaking, papermaking and book arts.  She crouches down to fill cracks in the parking lot and traces sunlight shadow shapes. Highlighting and translating these often-overlooked spaces and ephemeral patterns allows what is usually peripheral to envelop or confront us in new ways, revealing mundane surroundings in a new light.

Fussner was born in Indonesia and grew up equal parts overseas and in the US. In 2013, she received her BS in Printmaking from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has worked for Gordon College’s study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy and for Smith Center’s Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery in Washington, DC. Fussner is the Fenwick Gallery Graduate Professional Assistant and is a 2018 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Graduate Fellow.

emilyfussner.com  |  Instagram @emilyfussner

About the Work Fracture, fifty-foot section of parking lot crack cast with handformed pigmented abaca paper pulp and copper wire, 2018:

a familiar word I don’t remember not
quick pain grounding soul to finite body.

fractured ground, hands tracing not
but river and heart line,

releasing under weight.

Scars, permanent
Cracks, fleeting
the road paved over.

Even the body can’t help but heal.
Even a parking lot is beautiful at dawn.

Kerry Hentges  |  Second Year MFA Candidate, Sculpture

Kerry Hentges is a mixed media artist who utilizes sculpture, found objects, and book art to confront mortality and a persistent fear of dying. This fear motivates her studio practice and the practice helps her understand and ease that fear. According to Hentges, art is a way of understanding oneself and meditating on what is important. “Death is no surprise in life,” she says. “It is something that will one day take all. In comparison, everything else seems insignificant.” The goal of her work, she continues, “is for others to understand my view of mortality and confront their own views.”

About the Work The Ghost Slips Away, plaster series, 2018:

Hentges’ work centers on fear and in this series, she developed a [phobia]scape of the process of deterioration. The artist started by carving a book into a set of staircases. The book is representative of one’s life story. When Hentges alters a book, she reflects on how the alteration changes the story and the book becomes unreadable. This is symbolic for the change that happens when a person dies and their life story is no longer completely knowable. Without them there, their story takes on a life of its own slipping further and further away from the original. Hentges poured plaster into the carved book and the negative space became the sculpture. This is a series of three casts, each cast showing the deterioration of the book, as it moves further away from the original object with each casting.

www.behance.com/khentges  |  Instagram @kerryhentges

Erica Hopkins  |  Third Year MFA Candidate, Painting

Erica Hopkins’ practice frequently involves layering works within works, often beginning with photography and self-portraiture that she manipulates with various editing techniques, such as re-colorization, distressing, and image-to-video-to-image conversion.  She incorporates these modified images further into other works, which themselves become yet another image to begin the cycle anew.  Sourced from autobiographical material and layered into kinesthetically charged surfaces that effectively obscure as well as reveal, the result is a complex, psychological, and deeply intimate method of storytelling.

Hopkins was born in Anchorage, Alaska and has travelled and lived extensively throughout the United States.  She has received undergraduate degrees in both music, with a focus on jazz, and art history, with an emphasis on early modern art.  Her passion for art within the academic field prompted her to create her own art to further understand those she studied.  She works in a wide variety of mediums ranging from painting, installation, papermaking, sound, and video.  She is currently completing her third year MFA candidacy at George Mason University.

About the Work a prologue of many names, mixed media on wood, 2018:

The landscape of our identities—unique, linear, and abstract—is comprised of parts that float both freely on the surface and slumber deep within.  We are our experiences, our memories, the places we dream, the people we encounter, the words we choose to speak and don’t speak.  This landscape is constantly in a state of flux as we cultivate and curate a sense of self that fits.  a prologue of many names is one in a series of confessional poems, an outpouring of neurotic energy set within a performative space that explores the conflict between the self and the world outside.

 ericahopkins.com  |  Instagram @ericaswildatheart  |  Facebook @ericaswildatheart

Strange Lens  |  First Year MFA Candidate, Painting

Strange Lens is an artist working in multiple media, inspired by dreams and nightmares, among other things. She strives to create an atmosphere of a dream and the absurd. The paintings and installations serve as theatrical decorations or a wallpaper of an interior, rather than a separate artwork on the wall. The series are often accompanied by characters, alter egos created to be the advocates for every series. The characters also represent a multifaceted trait of human nature and the concept that we are never the same person, switching faces and personalities in every situation.

About the Work Time Capsule No.1, acrylic and mixed media, and Zero No.5, acrylic, 2018:

The Zero series, like my other work, stems from different sources of inspiration. On a personal note it deals with loss, emptiness and social withdraw. On a more worldly base it deals with the technological progress and flow of time, the nostalgia for the gadgets from 10-20 years ago and the nostalgia for older times in general. It deals with the way social media defaces us and causes more disconnect and emptiness than ever before. The zeros are an obvious point to binary codes, but in this case the binary code becomes that of absence. I’m creating a space, a groundless landscape of a junkyard made from digital nostalgia, old machines, the abandoned social media profiles, even literally, lost and unrecovered files from a computer crash.

strangelens.myportfolio.com  |  Instagram @strange.lens

Jennifer Lillis  |  Third Year MFA Candidate, Printmaking

Jennifer Lillis (b. 1989) is an artist, student, teacher, and administrator in Northern Virginia. She received her BA in Studio Art from Marymount University in 2012. Her work focuses on deconstruction, transformation, and rituals of initiation and rite of passage in her studio practice. Jennifer is currently a third year MFA Printmaking candidate at George Mason University, co-founder of ELEMENTS, independent curator, and Gallery Manager at the McLean Project for the Arts.

Instagram @j_lillis

About the Work 8/8 and 4/8, drypoint etchings and cast aluminum, 2018:

the descent

no light to guide you
no key to show you the way

fall into darkness


streaming memory
form perceptions of
reality [misconceptions]

sense of hope
blinding light

fade to nothing.

Jayne Matricardi-Burke  |  First Year MFA Candidate, Painting

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Jayne Matricardi-Burke has been living in the
DC area since 1996. She earned a BA Double Major in Painting and Art History from the University of Virginia, and a Master’s of Education from the George Washington University. Jayne has taught studio art since 2001 in the Fairfax County Public School system at the high school level. Jayne is an MFA candidate in Painting at George Mason University.

About the Work Untitled, photo transfers and acrylic on canvas, 2017:

I think of this piece as a [suburbia]scape, and it is comprised of images from my neighborhood—which happens to be very close to Mason. It recalls the lost and disconnected feeling I had when I first moved to this area, with its wide streets, large houses, and neighbors I never saw. It has taken me a very long time to feel connected to this place, even though both visible lines of telecommunication and invisible ones of virtual communication create a web of crisscrossing connections. I am concerned about the lack of true personal connection, and lack of a sense ­­of belonging many of us feel today, whether living in suburbia, or in an urban center for that matter, while overloaded social media and other online connections cloud one’s sense of self and place.


Matt Nolan  |  First Year MFA Candidate, New Media

Matt Nolan is an assistant professor of Computer Game Design and an MFA student at Mason.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in music synthesis from Berklee College of Music, and a master’s of music in composition from GMU.

I work to explore the interaction of elements at the moments of intersection between the organic and inorganic; I am standing at the crossroads of real and virtual.   Using elements of tradition and craftsmanship mixed with technological solutions, I explore the gap between rural and urban ways and means.  My work hopes to show the styles of the city and country coming together. Through my practice, I create work that speaks to both communities to stimulate empathy. My art also implies that suburban life is delusional and fugacious, tracing influence from Paolo Soleri.

About the Work Homomutatus and Moon, Homomutatus 1, Homomutatus 2, inkjet prints, 2018:

These clouds are a lie.  This series of photographs and videos is a documentation of man-made clouds and weather.  I have always been fascinated by cloud formations.  Recently, a new classification of cloud was created. Homomutatus clouds are created by man.  There are a few sub-classes. I am interested in persistent-spreading contrails in particular.  They are believed to have an effect on global climate, agriculture, and human health. Originally a trickle-down repercussion of the cold war, this defense mechanism has evolved into a regular activity that influences weather systems, and thus our psyche, economy, and health.

www.mattnolanart.com  |  Instagram @manahoac

Kevin Wallace  |  First Year MFA Candidate, Photography

Kevin P. Wallace is a graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program at George Mason University. His primary mediums are photography, sculpture, papermaking, poetry and new media. He is also a combat-wounded veteran, Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor recipient, and is interested in researching the fusion of photography and other fine-art mediums to simultaneously visually tell stories of sacrifice, perseverance and resiliency among the veteran community. Wallace believes that rather than shunning America’s bravest children, we should attempt to understand their eye-opening perspectives and seek a mutual foundation for support and progress. He hopes to both tell their stories visually through fine art and photography, and include them in the processes, knowing certain that making art has been the fundamental part of my own therapy and wishing to give back to others through art.

About the Work On Sale Soon, digital photograph, 2015, and The Invasion, digital photograph, 2018:

On Sale Soon features an Afghan child who was walking down an alleyway when she came across a patrol of soldiers. Upon seeing the military perambulation, the girl retreated backward into an adjacent alleyway and watched as the patrol passed by. Girls this age are often sold as wives to much older men, and so this image particularly haunts the artist.  Wallace views it as a [soul]scape, as the vile atrocities committed by adult men against women, girls, and boys, challenge his notion of religion or the soul. Despite all the horror he saw, he clings to the imagery he captured of the innocent bystanders of war, realizing that beauty can still exist in a seemingly dark and twisted world.

The Invasion portrays the impact humanity has on the environment.  The photograph was made off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, near the world’s second oldest living coral reef. The reef is quickly bleaching and dying from global warming, and from the environmental impacts of a new U.S. Marine Corps base being constructed on the water above it, off the coast of Henoko Point in Okinawa. Wallace is interested in [underwater]scapes as he uses diving as therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and relishes in the quiet and weightlessness underwater.  As an environmentalist, he believes the construction of the new Marine Corps base will devastate the reef, which is home to 140 rare species of aquatic life, some nearly extinct.

www.kevinwallaceart.com  |  Instagram @ir_artman @eastendphotolog  |  Facebook @KevinWallaceArtPhotography

Michael Walton  |  Second Year MFA Candidate, Printmaking

Michael Walton was born in Key West Florida, and grew up living in San Diego, Midway Island and Chesapeake, VA.  He has Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science from Old Dominion University. Walton recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from George Mason University, and is now pursuing a Master of Fine Arts.

Walton uses a variety of printmaking and sculptural processes and materials to create works that examine social conditions, such as the exploitation of children (particularly the plight of Child Soldiers), the mismanagement of natural resources through the availability of potable water, and depression and anxiety and how we humans live both as sufferers and supporters. His current visual exploration and research centers on understanding the principals of space time and eternal paradigms, how they conflict and exist simultaneously.  The foundation of his practice is centered on his belief and faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for all.

About the Work Block Time #1, Big Bang #2, and Into the Future #2, cyanotypes, 2018:

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future.” – Steve Miller

In the beginning, time began.  The universe was born and through time the universe grows into the future. The universe has become the encompassing landscape of time. However, how does one represent time?  What does time look like?  Better yet, what is time?  In the Time Series of prints I am attempting to see time, not as a paradigm but rather as an expression of change.  After all, does time really exist, or is it merely our observation of change?