Student Profiles

Angelika Rinnhofer is a fine art photographer from Nuremberg, Germany, teaching in upstate New York. Her photography has been showing at Photokina Cologne, the Beacon Artist Union and in solo-shows at the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Paul Kopeikin Gallery Los Angeles, amongst others. She was recently awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Special Opportunity Stipend and was invited to the Light Work Artist-in-Residence Program in Syracuse, NY. Her work is in the collections of the Center for Photography at Woodstock Woodstock, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, New York >> site

What are your goals in the program?
Thinking and writing critically about my intention as an artist, attaining a habit of practicing art on a regular basis, including critiques and potential collaborations, and intellectual stimulation through communication with other artists from various disciplines and backgrounds are my main focus during the program. Before I started my first residency last summer, one of my objectives was to work in media other than photography. Initially, I was skeptical and somewhat hesitant, afraid of my own willingness to change. Now, halfway through my first year, I have been working toward an installation combining video, sculpture, and photography. The program has definitely expanded my awareness for my own art practice.

Can you talk about your experiences in the first residency?
From an unfamiliar living situation to an unconventional location of the program, the residency was one of the most intense times I have ever experienced. I found the workshops artistically liberating and informative, the critiques were enlightening, and I frequently refer back to several of the seminar readings and discussions. I found the time spent on project planning for the art and research projects by discussing ideas and artistic approaches to be extremely valuable and helpful. Regular artist talks were revealing and edifying, challenging and engaging. And, I appreciated the weekly receptions for exhibits of faculty works.

How is it working in a low-residency program?
As a former business owner I know the most crucial aspect for success is self-motivation. This goes for any graduate program, particularly for a low-residency program like transart’s. To work independently can pose a challenge but it also offers freedom and flexibility. Since a large number of students are accomplished artists and earn a living, transart’s concept is ideal to work toward a degree and to expand one’s artistic career in addition to having a job. Ti is a small program with a limited number of participants, which makes it possible for students to develop close ties to each other as well as to mentors and advisers. We’re all big fans of Skype, e-mail, and Moodle.

Anything else you’d like to mention about the program to prospective applicants and faculty?
Ti is an international program made up of a community of experienced and ambitious artists, lead by two insightful directors. Ti is driven by its students and faculty, we actively shape the program. The opportunity to directly influence the structure and quality of a graduate program is what makes ti exceptional.

What else is going on in your professional life?
I’m working on two shows of old and new work; one in July at the Museum Industriekultur in my hometown Nuremberg, Germany; and the other in October at the Claire Oliver Gallery in New York. In addition, I have been able to apply some of the experience I gained during last summer’s workshops to my job as an art teacher.

How do you think the program will affect your career?
I would like to extend my list of exhibits, not only focused on my photographic work. I imagine that extending my networks through TI will help me achieve this. Besides these artistic ambitions, a Master in Fine Arts degree will allow me to apply to teaching positions at colleges.


New York photographer Karen Marshall documents American social issues. In 1985 she began a series of long-term projects that focus on the social and psychological lives of her subjects examining the coming of age of young people, primarily women. She often directs her camera at family life, including her Pennsylvania Dutch in-laws clan. In her documentary journey through American culture, Marshall has witnessed the struggling identity of a group of Navajo Indians and the demise of their earth-based culture in Caretakers of the Earth: Navajo Resistance and Relocation.

Currently she is completing her first film, Between Girls which combines audio and video with black and white photography. In this project, Marshall articulates the coming of age of a group of urban middle class teenagers, following them from high school into adulthood twenty years later. She is the recipient of artist fellowships and sponsorships through the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as grants and support from private foundations. Her work has been widely exhibited and is part of several collections.

As a freelance photographer, her work spans many genres including editorial, corporate and advertising clients for the past twenty-five years. Marshall lectures frequently and is a committed mentor. She teaches at The International Center of Photography, New York University, SUNY/Westchester Community College, and the Maine Photographic Workshops, among others. >> site

What are your goals in the program?
Beyond the professional needs that require me to obtain an MFA degree and the positive influence inquiry always encourages in individuals; my primary goal in participating in this program is to expand and redefine what it means to be an artist and photographer in the new century. In a world full of new paradigms, the pollination of cross-cultural dialog is rapidly expanding.  It is exciting and important to create innovative ways to share ideas. Being part of a program like Transart Institute offers me the opportunity to be a member of an international network of artists.  Most importantly, it is encouraging me to consider new ways to frame and execute my work.

What were your experiences with the workshops?
The workshops and seminars have been interesting and animated.  Professionally, I teach photography workshops through out the year, so it was great to be on the receiving end for once. The fact that Transart students are mostly advanced practitioners from diverse backgrounds of origin and artistic disciplines fed the energy of each workshop.

The term ‘new media’ is truly an open-ended concept at the Transart Institute. This provokes its participants to experiment with ideas and mediums that they might not normally feel safe playing with.  The intensity of the workshops and the fast turn around time of the work produced during those days allowed me to explore new ideas and concepts. Being given the opportunity to experiment with media I was unfamiliar with has expanded my personal practice.

Students are asked to prepare for their workshops and seminars with extensive reading lists prior to arriving in Austria.  This added an additional dimension to the intensives because people had contemplated intellectually on the subject matter prior to the residency.

Do you see students outside the residencies?
TI has expanded my network of support and community.  Since leaving the summer residency, I have been in contact on a regular basis through email and Skype with a half a dozen participants, in addition to seeing a couple of the New York-based students.  As these relationships mature, and ideas and opportunities germinate, I expect that my community will expand and grow even larger in the future.


2009 second year student David Dunn is a composer who rarely presents concerts or installations and instead prefers to lecture and engage in site-specific interactions or research-oriented activities. Much of his current work is focused upon the development of listening strategies and technologies for environmental sound monitoring in both aesthetic and scientific contexts. Recently referred to as ?the principal American composer doing work in ecology? (Networked Music Review), he is generally regarded as an eclectic and unclassifiable outsider, both aesthetically and geographically, whose creative work often resists representation in traditional concert or exhibition venues.

Born in 1953 in San Diego, California, his education was largely unconventional. From 1970 to 1974, he was an assistant to the American composer Harry Partch and remained active as a performer in the Partch ensemble for over a decade. Other mentors included composers Kenneth Gaburo and Pauline Oliveros, in addition to Polish theater director Jerzy Grotowski.

While he has held a variety of academic positions over the past three decades, he has also supported himself as a freelance musician, sound designer and creative consultant in various guises. He has also been the recipient of over 35 grants and fellowships for both artistic and scientific research, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Langlois Foundation, McCune Foundation, Meet the Composer, Ford Foundation, Delle Foundation, Tides Foundation, US Embassy to Argentina, and New Mexico Arts Division. In 2005, he received the prestigious Alpert Award for music, and the Henry Cowell Award from the American Music Center in 2007.

His compositions and soundscape recordings have appeared in over 500 international forums, concerts, broadcasts, and exhibitions. Besides his multiple books, recordings and soundtracks, he has been anthologized in over 50 books and journals. Over the past year he was either the subject or author of two-dozen international publications or broadcasts about his work including an interview for NPR?s All Things Considered. During this time he also presented over two-dozen public events in Prague, Tokyo, Chicago, Miami, Amsterdam, Phoenix, Barcelona, Ghent, California, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

Recent or current projects include sonification of deterministic chaotic systems for VR environments, research into the bioacoustics of bark beetles and entomogenic climate change, research on ultrasonic audio phenomena in both human and non-human environments, design of inexpensive wave-guides and transducer systems for environmental sound monitoring, and the design of self-organizing autonomous sound systems for interaction between artificial and natural non-human systems. In 2008 he will be joining the faculty of the College of Santa Fe and will be guest curator of the Santa Fe International Electroacoustic Music Festival in 2009. >> site

What are your goals in the program? 
I’ve been a freelance composer and artist for over 35 years and have managed to live off of project and research grants for most of that time. I’ve supplemented that with commercial work or academic teaching but never wanted to stay long enough to make a real career of teaching. My lack of a terminal credential never used to matter but has increasingly become more of an issue in the last few years. Each time I’ve left academia it has been more difficult to go back. Many of my “boomer” counter-cultural assumptions just aren’t operable anymore given the current state of the economy and intellectual environment. Since my work has gotten more research oriented and concerned with issues of environmental intervention and art/science interaction, there are many opportunities that I can’t pursue without a further credential regardless of my professional experience. The Transart program has been an opportunity to secure an MFA without having to forego my career for a couple of years.

Can you talk about your experiences with the residencies?
My favorite parts of the residencies have been the seminars, getting to interact intensively with a community of very smart people. For most of the students, my sense is that the workshops are the most popular aspect since they are opportunities for hands-on work and new experiences designed by some very exceptional artists and curators. All of the workshops that I’ve attended have been very dynamic. Perhaps the most important aspect of the program, to me personally, has been the realization of just how constrained my professional life can be. I have no lack of colleagues or opportunities to present my work but my network of association tends to reinforce a particular set of intellectual and aesthetic assumptions that become “the” set of assumptions. Transart succeeds at prying apart some of those entrenched viewpoints to provide space for new ideas and concerns. The truly international makeup of the students and faculty reinforces this.

How is working in a low-residency program?
At this point in my life there was no possibility for my taking two years to attend a traditional graduate program. Not only would that have been financially unfeasible—taking time away from necessary travel—I am just too interested in what I’m doing creatively to redirect my focus in the ways necessary for a traditional institution. I needed a program that would be more congruent with my life as an artist. The design and flexibility of the Transart program has been just that. I’m also more comfortable in a self-directed learning environment and tend to get frustrated by the constraints of more traditional educational models.

What else is going on in your professional life?
Over the period that I’ve been enrolled at Transart, I’ve been engaged in a variety of interdisciplinary projects that have reinforced my MFA art projects and research. Even though my work tends to be challenging to traditional concert or exhibition venues, I’ve been much more active internationally—doing lectures, conferences, concerts and exhibitions—than in the past. Recent or current projects include sonification of deterministic chaotic systems for VR environments, research into the bioacoustics of bark beetles and entomogenic climate change, research on ultrasonic audio phenomena, design of inexpensive wave-guides and transducer systems for environmental sound monitoring, and most recently applying principles of biological autonomy to the design of autonomous audio systems. I’ve also been doing a lot of publishing in both art and science contexts.

How do you think the program will affect your career?
I hope that the MFA will allow me access to a few doors that have remained closed. This is particularly true for some research opportunities where institutions just don’t know how to handle someone like me who doesn’t have an academic credential. I sometimes get invitations to apply for some residency or faculty position under the assumption that I have a PhD. The invitations start to become less friendly as soon as administrators find out the truth. I’ve had to come to grips with the realization that we really do not live in a simple meritocracy. In the face of the sheer superabundance of talented artists and intelligent people all vying for support, these kinds of credentials become a primary parsing tool for determining who gets to play and who doesn’t.

Anything else you’d like to mention about the program to prospective applicants and faculty?
I interact with many academic institutions because of my professional travel demands. The Transart program stands out for many reasons including that it really is exactly what it says it is and that alone is exceptional amongst the vast options for graduate study.


Virgil Wong has been creating experiments on art, anatomy, medicine and technology and working full time as head of Web Services at a New York hospital for over ten years. His digital media work, films, installations, and paintings have been exhibited at the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Yucatán, Museum of Image and Sound in San Paolo, Pickled Arts Center in Beijing, New Society for Fine Arts in Berlin, and Deitch Projects in New York. His 2001 film Murmur, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. He also adjunct faculty in the MA in Media Studies program at The New School. >> site

What are your goals in the program? 
I’d like to deepen my art practice and find a healthier balance between my creative aspirations and life’s more practical considerations. I see Transart as exactly the support and structure I need to produce work that may hopefully make a positive contribution to the world. I currently teach as an adjunct faculty member at The New School here in New York City, and an MFA would potentially qualify me for a core faculty position. Also, I hope to pursue a PhD program to further develop my various research and art projects.

How is it working in a low-residency program?
Transart is a program that is fully present in my life. The residency programs are concentrated periods of learning that are significantly more intense than any traditional Master’s program. The large number of students in New York have regular critique sessions. And all students benefit from a one-on-one mentorship with an artist that’s much closer than what traditional graduate students have with their faculty. The connections through Transart create a global classroom where students benefit from a customized network of resources around the world.

The community I’ve become a part of through Transart is already much more immersive than what I’ve developed in ten years of living and working as an artist in New York City. I’m developing a collaborative robot project right now with my first mentor, Deborah Aschheim, whom I also exhibited with earlier this Fall. Also, faculty members Mary Ting and Marji Vecchio have both curated my work. The Transart students, directors, and faculty members make up a remarkable body of artists and curators.

Could you give any insight into the level of technical expertise of applicants coming into the program, the general “type” of work of applicants that were accepted, etc.?
While there are certainly technically savvy people in the program — including one artist who is building a giant robot — the majority of students employ technology rather judiciously. And we have painters, sculptors, and performers who don’t really do any coding or electronic work at all. Transart is focused on creative and intellectual exploration rather than technological gadgetry for its own sake.

Most students are older and quite experienced. Many students are teaching and are already quite accomplished in their fields.  I’m not sure if there’s a specific type of student, but certainly anyone who is self-driven, passionate about their art and ideas, and curious about the larger context of their work would succeed in the program.

How do the critiques go?
Given this high-level of expertise among the student body, constructive feedback comes from fellow students as well as faculty members. Critiques are well-structured, concise, and effective in unearthing references and ideas to help students talk about their work from a much wider perspective.

>> Some of Virgil’s work and experiences in the program can be found here

Markuz Wernli Saito is a cultural practitioner and conceptual artist from Switzerland based in Kyoto and San Francisco. Fascinated by the social mechanics among humans and communities, he attempts to discard preconceptions, revisit the ways of perception, and turn the mundane into communal experiences. Each moment of the everyday, every action of living, poses the question how it might be lived differently, more truthfully and respectfully. Through the conscious experiment and artful intervention Markuz’ addresses the inter-personal challenges in public spaces. Markuz holds a Masters in Fine Arts from Transart Institute in Linz, Austria, and engages in creative group collaborations and individual project work worldwide. >> siteandsite

What goals did you reach in the program?
I learned to trust my creative intuitions more fully and gain confidence in building on a self-initiated art practice that remains responsive and relevant to its immediate context. I was able to expand my creative strategies (that easily alternates between more purposeful or self-indulgent work). Project work which gains relevance with predefined criteria and connecting research.

Visual art making is not something static and reactive anymore like it used to be. After realizing works with and in public space for the past three years my practice today emphasizes process over object and embraces the shifting dynamics of impromptu social situations. Utilizing public space and the encounters I can create within, to both gain a better understanding of untried potentials and how that space can be completely altered, if only temporarily. Going to a place of certain discomfort with someone else – knowingly and with full consent – that is exciting and redefines our experience.

What has happened in your career since you finished the program this past summer? 
Right after graduation I spent one week with the very experienced artist, cultural practitioner and “social engineer” Ayumi Matsuzaka in Berlin. Ayumi who graduated from the Public Art and New Artistic Strategies program at Bauhaus University, Weimar, and has already an established art career inspired me how to deepen my conceptual thinking and professionalize attitude, strategy and day-to-day practice.

Between October 11 and 13 I attended the conference Open Engagement, Art After Aesthetic Distance where about 40 proponents of relational and social art practice from North America and Europe came together (e.g. Harrel Fletcher, Future Farmers, Darren O’Donnell) in the small university town of Regina, SK (Canada). Apart from the highly inspirational and motivating workshops and panel discussions very influential for me was meeting with Danish artist and social practitoner Berit Norgaard who finds entrepreneur opportunities with small-scale social interventions and rearrangements (more individual version of WochenKlausur’s methodology).

Through the graduate research I did on alternative art initiatives in Asia during my last semester at Transart I got in touch with a curator based in Saigon.  She invited me, along with 8 other artists to participate in a six week long community-based residency in the highlands of Southern Vietnam this past October and November. Despite the challenging organizational conditions I found there I was able to realize very successfully a relational public art project named Shadow Followers. Thanks to a well-prepared concept and project plan I was able to engage 15 local coffee and tea farmers in a participation-led photo project (a kind of “coffee farmers with cameras”) and returned not only with the stories and insightful images of the participants, but also with valuable video material that documents the process and context. In March 2008 I plan to present some images and the edited short film of my experience in Vietnam at a group show on social art practice at Ampersand Gallery in San Francisco.

On December 1st 2007 I was invited to make a contribute to the first Public Intervention/Public Art Day of Southern Exposure and The Intersection of The Arts. With “Have a Tea, Leave a Trace” I hosted over six hours a highly participatory and mobile version of the Japanese tea ceremony on the sidewalk right in front of the gallery. More than 40 participants were whisking their powdered green tea.

Between May 15 to 17, 2008 I am going to a contributing artist at the conference Intervene! Interrupt! Rethinking Art as Social Practice hosted by University of California in Santa Cruz where I am planning a series of participatory performances on campus. This was an event I was introduced to by alumni Jamie McMurry.

How has the international aspects of the program worked for you?
The international profile of Transart made it possible in the first place to enroll independent from my residence and heritage. In the direct interaction with such an eclectic and international group of students foster and necessitate on a daily basis (particularly during residencies) what makes for cultural practitioners: the use of language, situtional response, evolution of tradition and culture, etc.

What has been the best part of the program for you?
I highly respect Transart’s lived understanding of the term New Media. There is less emphasis on its technical sense but it is this cross-fertility of expanding working methods across disciplines that can transcend the physical triangle of body, place and object. Transart’s self-motivated structure made it possible for me to tailor the program and learning goals to my specific needs and interests while relying on a support system of peer critique and professional advice from faculty and mentors.

>> Some of Markuz’s work and experiences in the program can be found here

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