Congratulations to Alum Vivian Beer ’00, current MFA faculty member Lauren Fensterstock, and Anna Hepler (former MFA Non-Resident Studio Advisor) for achieving this amazing milestone! Each received $50,000 fellowships from United States Artists, a grant-making arts organization created in 2006.
“United States Artists celebrates the breadth of American artistic practices by providing $50,000 unrestricted awards directly to artists. We honor innovative, accomplished artists at all stages of their careers, who are nominated by their peers and field experts for their fresh perspectives, unique artistic vision, and impact on their field in the following disciplines: Architecture & Design, Crafts, Dance, Literature, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts and Visual Arts. Since our inception in 2006, we have awarded almost 500 artists with over $24 million in support through our signature Fellowship program.”
Vivian Beer ’00
Vivian Beer is a furniture designer/maker based in New England. Her sleek, abstracted metal and concrete furniture combines the aesthetic sensibilities of contemporary design, craft, and sculpture to create objects that alter viewers’ expectations of and interface with the domestic landscape. With a strong foundation in contemporary furniture design, her research into the history of American industry, architecture, and transportation adds intellectual rigor and specificity to her work. Her Infrastructure, Streamline and Anchored Candy series are physical manifestations of the cultural and industrial history of her materials even as they serve as intellectual bridges for their users, bringing them to a new way of conceiving the built world through a luxurious deployment of the senses.
Her work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, MFA Boston, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design and the cities of Portland ME, Arlington VA and Cambridge MA. She holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy and received their 2016 Alumni Achievement Award. Beer has won numerous awards and residencies including the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship, Penland School of Crafts Residency, Wingate Artist Residency, Museum of Glass, Pilchuck and a Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Lauren Fensterstock creates elaborate sculptures and installations that explore the evolving history of our relationship to nature. By merging contradictory historic perspectives – spanning the Picturesque, the Baroque, Minimalism, and Earth Work – she reveals the cultural roots of our concept of nature. These intricate artworks are constructed in the material of ladies’ accomplishments, such as quilled paper and shell work, emphasizing the capacity of traditional female crafts to reflect on the complexities of the world beyond the domestic sphere. Lauren’s work has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at The John Michael Kohler Art Center, The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Drexel University, and will be presented in an upcoming solo project at MOCA Jacksonville in 2017. Her work is represented by Claire Oliver Gallery in New York.
Outside the studio, Lauren has taught, lectured, and critiqued around the country, most recently at the Rhode Island School of Design and Virginia Commonwealth University. She previously served as Academic Program Director of the Interdisciplinary MFA in Studio Arts at Maine College of Art and as Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art. Lauren holds degrees from the Parsons School of Design (BFA 1997) and SUNY New Paltz (MFA 2000).
Anna Hepler is a sculptor based in Eastport, Maine. Her work, which is both hand-held and architectural in scale, overturns first impressions – wire forms flatten into drawings, clay impersonates metal, plywood coils like rope, plastic inhales and exhales. Hepler values embarrassment, uncertainty, blunder, and fragility as active agents in her studio process.
“In preferring a path of unknowns, I choose purpose over craft, awkwardness over expertise, and improvisation over procedure. I am working to loosen knots of assumption and forfeit some of my authority.”