Faculty of the MFA program are staff members of Visual Studies Workshop; faculty of The College at Brockport, SUNY; visiting artists who teach classes, workshops, and give critiques; and graduate committee advisors who act as mentors for students working on thesis projects. All MFA faculty lead expansive professional lives as artists, critics, historians, and educators and have made extensive contributions to the fields of visual and media arts through exhibitions, publications, screenings, performances, lectures, and administrative organizing.

Full bios and links are provided for faculty and staff who teach the first semester core workshops in photography, book art, and film and video, as well as those who regularly teach studio critique courses, research seminars, electives, and annually teach Summer Institute workshops.

  • Nando Alvarez-Perez is an artist and educator based in Buffalo, NY. Alvarez-Perez teaches the Core: Photo course in the VSW MFA program. In 2014 he graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute where he was awarded the Master of Fine Arts Fellowship in Photography.

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    Since then his work has been exhibited throughout the Bay Area and internationally, most recently at Material Art Fair in Mexico City, the Drake One Fifty in Toronto, Interface Gallery in Oakland, CA, and VSW where he was recently in residence. He has taught courses at the California College of the Arts, the Art Studio at UC Berkeley, and the San Francisco Art Institute and his photographs have appeared in WIRED and NYT Mag. Instagram: @nandodoteternity

  • Alisia Chase, has a PhD from the University of Minnesota and is an art historian specializing in women artists of the late 20th C to present particularly those working in performance, film/video, and comics/graphic novels.

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    She has contributed writings to such anthologies as Virgin Territory: Representing Sexual Inexperience in Film and Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art. Chase is an Associate Professor of Art History at The College at Brockport, SUNY and teaches Research Seminars and Thesis I courses in the VSW MFA program.

  • Hernease Davis earned her MFA from the International Center of Photography–Bard College. Her current body of work uses photograms, cyanotypes, performance, and craft to emphasize self-care through the artistic process.

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    Work from her series A Womb of My Own (Mistakes Were Made in Development) have been included in The Surface of Things at the Houston Center of Photography, an exhibition featuring photographers working with camera-less techniques. Davis has also exhibited with Rush Arts, Camera Club of Los Angeles, Foley Gallery, and was selected for Photography Now 2016 at the Center of Photography at Woodstock. After working with Davis on her solo exhibition at VSW in the summer of 2018, she was invited to teach a Core: Photo workshop in the MFA program. Davis currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

    Instagram: @hernease

  • Jessica Johnston is Curator of Collections, Coordinator of the Nathan Lyons Research Center, and Assistant Director of VSW. In addition to her curatorial and administrative duties, Johnston teaches courses in Collections Management and the history of photography in the MFA program.

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    Prior to joining VSW, Johnston was the Assistant Curator of Photographs at George Eastman Museum. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. She is an active participant in the photographic community serving as a reviewer at Fotofest, Photolucida, PhotoNOLA, panels for New York State Council of the Arts grants, among others.

    Instagram: @visualstudiesworkshop

  • Scott McCarney has been making books as works of art for over thirty years and he annually teaches a valuable workshop for VSW on Bookbinding for Artists.

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    McCarney’s bookworks explore many media, from offset and digital printing to sculptural objects and installation. He lectures, teaches and exhibits internationally and is also an adjunct faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology.

  • Tara Merenda Nelson is a filmmaker, curator, programmer and lecturer with 15 years experience working with film and digital media. She is the Curator of Moving Image Collections and Film Series Programmer at VSW.

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    She teaches Core: Media, 16mm Film I and II, and Studio Critique courses in addition to overseeing VSW’s collection of over 5,000 16mm films and 4,000 magnetic media titles. Her own films, videos, and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art (NY and Miami), Mono No Aware (Brooklyn), The 8Fest (Canada), VideoEx (Switzerland) and the Sydney Underground Film Festival (AUS). She has taught digital media and film production courses at Montserrat, Ithaca College, Cornell University and the University of Rochester.  Nelson has an MFA in Film/Video from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

  • Andrew Salomone is an artist and writer who leads a Studio Critique course at VSW. Salomone makes work about the dynamic relationship between traditional craft processes and new technologies.

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    He has lectured on internet art practice at Parsons The New School for Design and worked as a resident artist in The Museum of Art and Design’s Open Studio Program. Salomone has regularly written for publications like The Creators Project and Make Magazine. He has an MFA from the National University of Ireland, Galway/Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland.

  • Tate Shaw is the Director of VSW and Assistant Professor of English at The College at Brockport, SUNY. He directs the MFA program and teaches Core: Books, Thesis II, Critical Writing, and other courses. 

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    Shaw curates artists’ book publications for VSW Press, directs the  Exhibitions program, and was the creator/programmer of VSW’s Photo-Bookworks Symposium. He is co-founder of Preacher’s Biscuit Books, an occasional publisher of books by artists working in other media like photography, drawing, graphic design, film, and text-based works. Shaw’s own books experimenting with photography, drawing, and writing are in international collections including the Tate Modern, London, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection, Yale Special Collections, the George Eastman Museum Library, amongst others. Cuneiform Press published a collection of Shaw’s essays on artists’ books, Blurred Library, in 2017.

  • Dan Varenka is the Studio Coordinator and Bookstore Manager for VSW. He teaches Screen Printing workshops for MFA students and supports all MFA activity in his VSW staff roles.

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    Varenka has a screen printing business, Hey Buddy!, producing a range of zines including EAT, books, stickers, t-shirts and other ephemera. He frequently produces pieces like tote bags, t-shirts, and onesies for and sold by ARTBOOK@MoMA PS1.

  • Guest Faculty and Thesis Advisors

    Below are links to regionally based artists, scholars, critics, and curators who VSW has recently invited to give students feedback on their work. Others listed have taught elective courses to MFA students and mentored graduates as advisors on thesis projects.