Featured Alumni

Our students are critical thinkers and independent learners, and our alumni worldwide go on to transform lives through the arts in various roles as educators, administrators, artists, artisans, makers, entrepreneurs, authors and historians.

For more information about our alumni, visit our Alumni News page and our Alumni Spotlight page. 

Diana Al-Hadid

Diana Al-Hadid portrait

Born in Aleppo, Syria, Diana Al-Hadid earned her B.A. in Art History and B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Kent State University School of Art in 2003. She went on to earn her M.F.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University (2005) and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007. Al-Hadid is a contemporary artist whose work has been exhibited all around the globe. Her work incorporates a variety of media and examines the historical perspectives that influence our visual culture. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, and describes her work as “somewhere between fresco and tapestry.”

Don Drumm

Artist Don Drumm in his studio holding a piece of metalwork.

Don Drumm, owner of Don Drumm Studios, is a nationally recognized artist whose work spans over five decades. He and his wife, Lisa Drumm, operate their own studio in Akron, Ohio where over 500 North American artists are represented. Don Drumm is best known for his manipulation of aluminum and his work has been commissioned by large institutions based in the Akron area, such as the Summa Health System and LeBron James’ I Promise School. Raised in Warren, Ohio, Drumm was exposed to metalsmithing at an early age by his father and grandfather. He studied medicine for two years at Hiram College before he decided to pursue an artistic career. He transferred to Kent State University, where he earned his B.F.A. and M.A. He opened his own studio in 1960; it has since become an Akron landmark and is located on Crouse Street. 

Liz Maugans

Portrait of Liz Maugans in front of her artwork.

Liz Maugans graduated from Kent State University with her B.F.A. in Printmaking in 1986 and earned her M.F.A. at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1992. She co-founded Zygote Press, where she was formerly Executive Director, and is presently the Director of YARDS projects and curator of the Dalad Collection at Worthington Yards in the Warehouse District. She founded the Collective Arts Network, a quarterly journal, online resource and arts consortium that works to promote Northeast Ohio artists and organizations to a greater audience. Liz is an advocate for artists and the visual arts and strives to promote the importance of the arts in Cleveland and beyond. She is the Chief of Community Engagement and Programming at ART EverySpace. She is also founder of the Cleveland Artist Registry, an open access collective arts project and artist registry to better connect Cuyahoga County Artists of all disciplines to each other and the greater community. Maugans chairs the Community Advisory Committee for FRONT International Triennial and is an active Board Trustee of the Collective Arts Network. Maugans currently resides in Bay Village, Ohio. 

Missy Higgins-Linder

Missy Higgins-Linder

Missy Higgins-Linder earned her B.A. (1998) and M.A. (2017) in Art Education from Kent State University. She now works as Director of Learning and Engagement at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She has held past positions as Director of Education at the Akron Art Museum, Project Manager for the National Art Education Association, and as an art educator for Akron Public Schools. 

Alexandra Nicholis Coon

Alexandra Nicholis Coon in the Massillon Museum

Alexandra Nicholis Coon earned her B.A. in Art History from Kent State University in 2001. She went on to earn her M.A. in Art History from Case Western Reserve University in 2004 and has a Collections Care Certificate from the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation. She is currently Executive Director of the Massillon Museum. She helped found the Museum Studies undergraduate program at Walsh University and taught art history and museum studies courses as an adjunct professor there for five years. She has served as president of the Ohio Museums Association board, and is currently Chair of the board of Visit Canton, the Stark County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, and am a member of the Cleveland Print Room, Aultman Health Foundation, and Soroptimist International of Canton/Stark County boards of directors. Nicholis Coon led the renovation of the Massillon Museum’s storage facility to a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled environment in 2010, and most recently, the 18,000 square-foot expansion of the building.

Lyneise Williams

Lyneise Williams headshot

Lyneise Williams earned her M.A. in Art History from Kent State University in 1996. She has her Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University (2004). She is currently an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual Culture, 1852-1932, which examines how Parisians’ visual iconography of Latin Americans in popular imagery inextricably links blackness to Latin American identity beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. Her second book project examines the intersection of male beauty, masculinity, sports, and the black male body through the images and performances of Alfonso Brown in 1920s and 30s Paris. She has published articles on artist Pedro Figari, the depictions of Panamanian boxer Alfonso Teofilo Brown, and African art and hip-hop jewelry. Williams has also curated exhibitions on African art. Chief Justice of the State of North Carolina Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley, appointed Williams as a member of the Chief Justice Advisory Commission on Portraits. Williams is a member of the team selected from an international competition to design the North Carolina Freedom Monument Project in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Jennifer Ling Datchuk

Jennifer Ling Datchuk headshot

Jennifer Ling Datchuk earned her B.F.A. in Crafts from Kent State University in 2004 and went on to earn her M.F.A. in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2008. Born in Warren, Ohio, she currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. She is an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Datchuk has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio as well as Artpace to research the birthplace of porcelain in Jingdezhen, China. In 2016, she was awarded a residency through the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany and was a Black Cube Nomadic Museum Artist Fellow. She completed a residency at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands in 2017 and was awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the American Craft Council. In 2020, she was named a United States Artist Fellow in Craft. Datchuk’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions across the United States. 

Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson

Rainbow Fragment #10, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson

Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson earned her B.F.A. (1991) and M.F.A. (1995) from Kent State University. Born in Reykjavík, Iceland, much of her work is influenced by the country and its landmarks. She has had solo exhibitions at the TANG Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, MOCA Cleveland, Pocket Utopia, NY, and Turpentine Gallery, Reykjavík. Her work is in the collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, Progressive Insurance and The Reykjavík Museum of Art. Her work was recently featured in Hyperallergic. (Image: Rainbow Fragment #10, Collection of Progressive Insurance)

Curlee Raven Holton

Curlee Raven Holton in his studio

Curlee Raven Holton earned his B.F.A. in drawing and painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art and his M.F.A. from Kent State University with a concentration in printmaking. He served as the David M. and Linda Roth Professor of Art at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught printmaking and African American art history. Holton founded the Experimental Printmaking Institute with a vision to provide artists with the time, space, materials, and professional support to create new work. In 2014, he was appointed Executive Director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at University of Maryland, College Park. Holton was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Art and Philosophy from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA) at the 2018 commencement in New York City. In 2015 he received the Anyone Can Fly Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hilary Gent

Hilary Gent headshot

Hilary Gent earned her B.F.A. with a concentration in painting from Kent State University. She owns HEDGE Gallery Inc., a vehicle for elevating accessibility to the arts, and to continue creative collaboration with surrounding communities and businesses in Ohio and beyond. HEDGE represents fifteen established artists. Gent is an artist herself and specializes in curating compelling art work into offsite spaces such as offices, hotels, and homes, and can be hired for art delivery and installation services.

Benjamin Johnson

Benjamin Johnson headshot

Benjamin Johnson earned his B.F.A. in Glass from Kent State University and his M.F.A. in Glass from Ball State University. He is Assistant Professor of Glass and Chair of Glass at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Johnson’s work is widely exhibited and held in the collections of the Indiana State Museum, the Evansville Art Museum, and the Glick Eye Institute. His work has received numerous best in show awards and he has been recognized as a Rising Star in contemporary glass at the Museum of American Glass in Millville, NJ. He has been the recipient of a Windgate Fellowship Grant Award, an Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, a Metropolitan Contemporary Glass Group Jerry Raphael Fellowship, a Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship, and the Indianapolis Art Center Skip McKinney Faculty of the Year Award. Johnson has taught glass at the Herron School of Art, Indianapolis Art Center, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and lectured at many others. His work explores pattern and texture to tell visual stories about our environment. 

Dylan Collins

Dylan Collins headshot

Dylan Collins earned his M.F.A. in Sculpture from Kent State University in 2003. Prior to attending Kent State, he earned his B.A. in 2-D Studio (1996) and M.A. in Sculpture (1997) from Eastern Illinois University. His work has been exhibited across the United States. Collins has held academic positions as Adjunct Instructor at Kent State University, Visiting Assistant Professor at Oberlin College, and Instructor of Studio Foundations at Southeast Missouri State University. In 2008, Collins joined the faculty of the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University as Visiting Assistant Professor and Sculpture Program Coordinator. He was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor and Sculpture Program Coordinator at WVU in 2014. Collins uses techniques like sculptural blacksmithing, welding, and casting. His studio work focuses on manipulating systems of classification and organization to draw attention to the complex relationship between organic bodies and the human made world.

Nelson Stevens

Nelson Stevens - Spirit Sister print from the School of Art Collection

Nelson Stevens earned his M.F.A. in Studio Art and Art History from Kent State University in 1969. He also has a B.F.A. in Painting and Art Education from Ohio University. He later became one of the first members of AfriCOBRA, a Chicago-based African American art movement that sought to empower the black community through aesthetics. Stevens’ work uses bold colors and often pays homage to prevalent figures in black history. In addition to his involvement with AfriCOBRA, Stevens taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and helped develop the African American Studies department into what is now a leading program in the nation. His work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Smithsonian and the Chicago Institute of Art. Stevens now resides in Owings Mills, Maryland. (Artwork pictured is from the School of Art Collection.)

Gerald Casale

Jerry Casale on stage with his band Devo, standing in front of keyboard with microphone wearing red energy dome

Gerald (Jerry) Casale majored in Art at Kent State University focusing on fine/performing arts and fashion-related studies. He witnessed the 1970 Kent State shootings and was friends with Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, two students who were killed at the shootings. This experience catalyzed the formation of the band DEVO, a visually-driven punk/new wave band with memorable performances and an overarching concept of “de-evolution.” He is known for playing bass guitar in the band, which released a Top 20 hit in 1980 with the single “Whip It.” Members of the band also included School of Art alumni Mark Mothersbaugh and Bob Lewis. 

Maria Iafelice

Maria Iafelice headshot

Maria E. Iafelice is an innovative educator and creative leader with over 10 years’ experience in museums and the non-profit sector. Dedicated to making art accessible, she joined the Toledo Museum of Art’s Education & Engagement team in 2015, where she currently oversees youth and family programs and community initiatives including the annual Block Party event and Circle, TMA’s affinity group dedicated to inclusive and innovative programming. She was selected to be part of the Museum Leadership Institute’s 2018 Next Gen leadership program, recognized as the 2019 Emerging Professional of the Year by the Ohio Museums Association, and recently received nominations for Toledo’s 20 Under 40 awards. Iafelice sits on the Collingwood Art Center’s board of directors, is a member of The Arts Commission’s Artist Services Committee and previously volunteered as a mentor for first generation college students with College Now Greater Cleveland. Iafelice’s research expertise is an intersection between contemporary art practice and pedagogy with publication in the Journal of Childhood Studies and has exhibited art locally and internationally; she has earned a M.A. and B.A. in Art Education from Kent State University.