MFA Program Director Ellen Mueller. Photo by Phil McCollam.
MFA Program Director Ellen Mueller. Photo by Phil McCollam.
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In fall 2018, Ellen Mueller joined MCAD as the director of the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies Program.

Previously a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, West Virginia Wesleyan College, and Colorado State University-Pueblo, she was recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award from the Mid-America College Art Association in 2018. Mueller is an interdisciplinary artist who explores issues related to the environment, hyperactive news media, and corporate management systems.

Social Practice Zines installed at the Constance Gallery at Graceland University in Iowa. Photo by Karen Gergely.
Social Practice Zines installed at the Constance Gallery at Graceland University in Iowa. Photo by Karen Gergely.

Working in installation, performance, video, drawing, and sculpture, Mueller maintains both a public practice for socially engaged work as well as a private studio practice. This multimedia background made her an ideal fit for heading up the interdisciplinary MFA program. “Since I’m familiar with the unique challenges of working in multiple media, I enjoy helping others navigate this type of practice,” Mueller says. “MCAD’s MFA program supports these interdisciplinary practices, keeping in line with the contemporary art world.”

Mueller has been meeting with students, alumni, faculty, and staff, learning she has inherited an “incredibly strong foundation” and thinking of how to respond to existing needs. Her priorities include assisting current students with professional practice, finding them more financial support, adding value to alumni careers, and building community partnerships, all of which she is implementing through workshops, talks, and a group New York trip. “If I’m doing my job right, I will help chart a path with every student to meet their goals. MCAD’s program succeeds because it is uniquely flexible and individually driven,” she says.

Survival Skills installation at the Weir Farm Art Center in Connecticut. Photo by Phil McCollam.
Survival Skills installation at the Weir Farm Art Center in Connecticut. Photo by Phil McCollam.

For Mueller, this position is also a homecoming; she completed her undergraduate degree in visual art, theater, and design technology at Bemidji State University and then spent several years in Minneapolis before leaving to complete her MFA at the University of South Florida. “I’ve lived a lot of different places all over the country and, with the level of artistic activity and investment here, no place is like Minneapolis/St. Paul,” she says.

 

This story originally appears in NEXT, the magazine of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Want to receive the next issue in your mailbox? Join the NEXT mailing list.