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Alumni . Alumni Profiles

Alumni Profiles

René Polin

Title President of Balance Product Development
Major Industrial Design

As founder and president of a multi-disciplinary design firm, René’s portfolio includes hundreds of successful products for companies across the globe, including Rubbermaid, Ninja, and Fisher Price. Creative problem solving, and a sense of balance, are both traits that René attributes to his CIA education.

Barbara Polster

Title Studio Artist
Major Drawing

Barbarita Polster is an artist, writer, and current faculty at both the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and North Park University, Chicago, IL. Recent solo exhibitions and performances include: Neon Heater, Findlay, OH (2020), Critical Practices, Inc., New York, NY (2018), Leroy Neiman Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2018), GLASSBOX gallery, Seattle, WA (2016); Forum Artspace, Cleveland, OH (2016); and William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH (2014; 2013; 2012).

In addition, she has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including exhibitions with Carrie Secrist Gallery (Chicago); Field Projects Gallery (NYC) at Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s Artist Run - Satellite Miami, Punch Gallery (Seattle), AIR Gallery (Brooklyn), and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Publications include Critic’s Union and Shifter Magazine (forthcoming). She was awarded the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Neznadny + Schwartz Visiting Curator Selection by João Ribas, Steven D. Lavine Executive Director, REDCAT. She served as INTERLINK Visiting Artist & Curator Program Coordinator and Writing Fellow at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is featured in Maake Magazine Issue 7, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid, and was an artist-in-residence at the Studios at MASS MoCA in 2019. In Fall 2018, she launched X. [international.], an online platform for unscripted art writing and experimental critical performances.

Rit Premnath

Title Installation Artist and Assistant Professor
Major Painting
Organization Parsons The New School for Design

Sreshta Rit Premnath graduated from CIA in 2003, moved to Brooklyn, NY, for graduate school and never left. He is now a successful installation artist and assistant professor at Parsons The New School for Design. He launched publication, Shifter, which he considers a platform to think through issues in a space surrounded by critical thinkers and artists, and he continues to work on it in his time away from teaching.

Mark Reigelman

Title Public Artist & Designer
Major Sculpture + Expanded Media

New York-based artist Mark Reigelman '06 was recently recognized for creating one of the country’s top 10 public artworks in 2010. His foundation gives three-dimensional form to his highly-acclaimed concepts. Mark, a renaissance artist, creates work across myriad art forms. He has installed at the Cleveland Museum of Art's summer solstice party two years in a row. His product designs include original pieces that you can find in New York and Paris boutiques; he crafts pieces for elite exhibitions; and he even designs interiors. Mark credits much of his success to his education at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where faculty encouraged him to take art and design classes outside of his major and bring those experiences back to his artwork. The results of his artistic exploration are unique—and award winning

Dana Schutz

Title Painter, sculptor
Major Painting

Dana Schutz earned her bachelor of fine arts degree at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000 and her master’s degree at Columbia University in 2002.

Her paintings are striking, often large canvases that mix abstraction with representation to comment on the unruliness of life. Writing for the New Yorker, Peter Schejldahl gives us this description of her work:

“Painting wet-in-wet with oils, building thick and eventful surfaces, she creates allegories of uncertain but torrid, gnashing implication. ... She does this with almost preposterously extraordinary gifts for composition, paint handling, and, in particular color, suffusing clashes of hue and tone with ghostly essences of a chromatic unity that you feel rather than quite see.”

As one of the most influential painters of her generation, Dana has artworks in collections that include the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as in museums in Tel Aviv and Berlin.

In 2017, her painting “Open Casket” appeared at the Whitney Biennial. It was a powerfully abstracted representation of Emmett Till, whose lynching at age 14 in Mississippi helped spark the Civil Rights movement.

The painting was made in the wake of a series racist demonstrations and police shootings of unarmed African American men. The inclusion of “Open Casket” in the exhibition ignited a heated backlash from some who objected to the idea of a white artist mining the trauma experienced by black Americans, and especially by Emmett Till’s mother.

“I could never, ever know her experience,” Dana told Artnet News, “but I know what it is to love your child.” In response to the criticisms of Open Casket, artist Kara Walker responded that “Painting, and a lot of art, often lasts longer than the controversies that greet it. I say this as a shout to every artist and artwork that gives rise to vocal outrage. Perhaps it too gives rise to deeper inquiries and better art. It can only do this when it is seen.”

Since the Whitney, Dana’s work has been shown in extensive exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and at the Transformer Station here in Cleveland. In 2019, the Petzel Gallery presented the critically acclaimed Imagine Me and You, a solo exhibition of new paintings and bronze sculptures.

Kevin Snipes

Title Ceramic Artist
Major Craft + Design

Kevin Snipes '94 is a full-time ceramic artist working in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He shows his work in solo gallery exhibitions across the country and regularly gives presentations as a visiting artist at colleges and universities. At CIA, Snipes learned to combine his love of drawing with his love of building things by working in ceramics. On the strength of his unique work, he has had residencies at numerous prestigious art centers.

Petra Soesemann

Title Artist + Educator
Major Sculpture + Expanded Media

Petra Soesemann is an internationally recognized artist, known for her meticulous works in fiber. Selected awards include Artist-in-Residence at the Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain; Fulbright Fellowship to study Incan architecture in Peru; exhibition Grant to Sao Paulo, Brazil; travel grants to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to research Mayan art and architecture; and travel grants to Turkey to study Islamic art and architecture as well as contemporary art.

Soesemann’s recent work explores the conventional relationships between seeing and representing; her fabric constructions often manipulate light and color to bring perception into conflict with uncertainty, engaging the basic mechanisms of “mind seeking meaning” as a process of consciousness.

Soesemann is chair of the Foundation program at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 2009 she was granted a year-long sabbatical leave to focus on her creative practice at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. She has taken CIA students to Mexico, Germany and Italy on team-taught foreign study trips.

Matthew Sweeney

Title Illustrator + Artist
Major Illustration

Matthew Sweeney graduated from CIA’s illustration program in 2012. He works as a full-time freelance illustrator and a gallery artist. His client list includes American Greetings, Kalman & Pabst Photo Group, and chef Jonathan Sawyer. He has had two exhibitions of his series of large graphite hand drawings, and was commissioned to design a mural for a building not far from his studio at the 78th Street Studios in Cleveland.

You can read more about Sweeney.

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