NMU Art Alumna Maggie Hamilton Published in Field and Stream

Field and Stream Web Site

Northern Michigan University Art & Design Alumna Maggie Hamilton, who recently received her MA from the University of Montana recently had her thesis project published in Field and Stream magazine. Maggie was a graduate in the Photography program at Northern.

Read the full article and see the portrait photographs here: 

“For this campaign,” she wrote, “I wanted to show the broader truth, unlike a lot of media that show just white men using our lands. I wanted to show that everyone uses public lands. The sitters are people from every walk of life.”

NMU Art & Design Photography Program: http://art.nmu.edu/department/photo/index.html

Maggie Hamilton Photography:

NMUART Students study art in Transylvania, Romania

Two NMU School of Art & Design students recently had the opportunity to spend the winter semester studying at the University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca through the ERASMUS+ Partnership between NMU and UAD. Located in the historic city, Cluj-Napoca, in Transylvania, Romania the University offers students exceptional opportunities for artistic expression in a city with a vibrant arts culture.

UAD Buildings

Niikah Hatfield, a Ceramics major, and Hannah Donohue, a Painting major in the School of Art & Design spent the Winter 2018 semester in Romania at UAD.  They were able to work in a variety of media alongside the Romanian students and participated in cultural exchange activities along with European travel opportunities.

NMU Students Hannah and Hailey Donohue, Niikah Hatfield, and UAD student Flavia Beldiman with NMU Art & Design Professors Taimur Cleary and Daric Christian at a restaurant in Cluj-Napoca.

Speaking about her experience, Niikah writes:

I am overflowing with the experience of studying for the semester in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It was a life-changing experience that I have emerged from with a new sense of self and fulfillment. Living in another country and culture for over four months provided the space to see both my artwork and presence as a person in a whole new light.

Niikah’s Ceramic Art

The Erasmus+ Programme gave me the support and flexibility to create projects that explored my own areas of interest across many different mediums. Working in glass and jewelry for the first time taught me skills that I could use in ceramics, painting, and photography. The freedom also fostered a stronger sense of self-direction and motivation, and at the same time, one-on-one feedback from the professors brought me to a heightened understanding of concepts and techniques.

Niikah’s Painting

Cluj is a city that embraces art, and between talking with students and attending the countless exhibitions that happened while we were there, I gained a lot of insight on the vast similarities and differences within art across the nations. As a whole, a greater sense of unity emerged from seeing that artistic passion on a world-wide scale.

Erasmus is largely focused on widening perspectives, and the encouragement to travel and try new things had a huge impact on my experience abroad. I learned just as much traveling across parts of Europe and attending local events as I did within the university. I had the chance to push my limits and travel solo to Paris, Italy, and Croatia, and while in Cluj I joined a contemporary dance company that was equally mind-blowing and challenging.

Niikah in Croatia

The most learning and growth, however, happened on a personal level. Stripped of everything normal and familiar, studying abroad gave me the time and place to discover who I am outside of everything I thought I knew. As I began to understand my own purpose within art and life a bit more, I have been able to set a different set of priorities for my path forward that is less dependent on space and more focused on my own passion.

Living in a city was a big change in comparison to the rural U.P., and coming back has proved to be just as much of a change as leaving. The whole trip gave me a deep appreciation for the beauty and serenity of the U.P., and I’m incredibly excited to take what I have learned abroad back into NMU and our whole community.

Speaking about her experience, Hannah writes:

My semester abroad in Cluj-Napoca, Romania defied all expectations I had of what a “study abroad” experience means and changes in someone. I expected to be confused by the language and misunderstood frequently. I expected to have trouble knowing how much Romanian Lei typical items should cost, and I expected to have a hard time getting around in such a large city when compared to Marquette. While all of these things were very true, the things and moments that are most memorable were the ones I didn’t expect. I have vivid memories of frantically trying to find the handle on an airport toilet in Germany, where it didn’t exist. I soon learned that European toilets have buttons rather than handles, often times not connected to the toilet at all but on the wall. Other highlights of these memorable moments include the first time seeing a very large (but typical) beer bottle, the unspoken rule that you’re unable to split a bill while dining out, and the custom of drinking in the evenings at local bars and clubs with professors. All of these moments are what led me to meet the people that changed me, and led me to form the idea that studying abroad really conditions you to find consistency and comfort in yourself rather than your environment. You can’t control any of the things that you come across when you’re in a completely new place, thousands of miles from home, including the way you previously understood how to flush a toilet. Because of this, the things that become consistent in your daily life are the characteristics you learn are constant in yourself. This result is invaluable.

Hannah’s Drawings

I’m so grateful to have gained something that I believe most students that study abroad don’t have the opportunity to. In Romania, I was able to see the difference in the practice of art and design between what I was taught and knew, and what the students in Cluj were familiar with. I quickly noticed that students in Cluj have a strong sense of place in the art world. Every student I met and connected with had a strongly developed style, coupled with a very strong work ethic. I believe that these things were possible because of the students’ intrinsic motivation to create. This may come from their early exposure to art education, or maybe the value their entire community places on art.  I was highly impressed by this and it was the primary factor that inspired me while I was there, and continues to now. The students that I was surrounded by were inspired to coordinate their own private exhibitions frequently, which were events I was able to find nearly three times a week. I appreciated the level of respect that artists were given in their community, evident in how many community members and fellow students attended the exhibitions and additionally, found joy in talking about the art surrounding them. This is something that I’m inspired to bring back to Marquette and every place I make a home in afterward.

Hannah’s Painting

I left Romania with a stronger and surer concept of who I am, both as a human being and as an artist. I now possess numerous additional lenses to view art from, and I have the inspiration to share my work with as many people as possible. I will always be grateful for the experiences that led me to these things and I hope to share the will to travel and knowledge of such a beautiful place with my Marquette community.

Hannah in London

Art & Design Students Receive Honorable Mentions in Design Competition

Two NMU Art and Design Students have received Honorable Mentions in the Windsell Rotational Molding National Product Design Student Competition. The competition gives students exposure to top companies, employers, and potential clients. this year the category was, “Outdoor Living Activities”.

Human Centered Design students, Levi Schwamlien and Jordan Jenkins both were recognized for their designs. The representative from the competition stated, “This has been a record-breaking year for the number of designs submitted.  Levi and Jordan’s designs stood out and were very well done.”

Jordan Jenkins submitted the design, “Barrier Bath” a dual function birdbath.

“Barrier Bath” by Jordan Jenkins

Levi Schwamlien submitted the design, “SteadFast” a yard game component, for footbag golf.

“SteadFast” by Levi Schwamlien

Learn More About the #NMUART Human Centered Design Program

NMUART Alumnus wins Silver Award at the IDEA Awards

NMU Art & Design Alumnus Thomas Gallagher, and his company ERMA were recently awarded a Silver Award in the Outdoor & Garden category at the prestigious International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)® , a premier international design competition sponsored annually by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and judged by renowned design experts from around the world.

You can read about the awards at the following web site:


Design Specifications

Thomas wrote about his post college experience

Upon graduation I was offered a full time job at Electrolux selling lawn mowers, chainsaws and products of the like to large retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot. This lasted for several years until I got tired of the inflexibility of the antiquated product development. Beautiful presentations and creative marketing strategies worked well for me, but I felt like I reached my ceiling selling the same thing over and over and needed a something else.

In the peak of the recession I quit my cushy job and started a product development company. We had a great deal of success and two years later sold it. I did this two more times and have been very fortunate to have success each time. I have found a passion for creating things that 1. People want and 2. People will reasonably purchase.  There is a great deal of theory behind this which would be a novel in itself. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, “form follows function” keeping in mind that consumers want cool – so it is somewhere in there that I find my niche.

At this point I’ve personally designed and launched 9 core products from the ground up.  This means the entire product development from concept, specifications, prototypes, engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing, television, web, support and service.  I would be remised not to give the credit due to my coworkers. I have a team of two individuals who have worked with me since 2010, one Mechanical and one Industrial Engineer. My ideas and creations would not see the light of day without them. Between the three of us we take 4-5 year product development and shorten it down to 12-18 months.

I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career and owe a significant chunk of my success to my education/educators. There are infinite parallels from Art to Business and Business to Art – I truly believe getting an Art degree was possibly the best decision I ever made for my career.

Design Specifications
Design Specifications

Here is the mover in a television commercial:

You can buy the mover Thomas designed at Home Depot:

NMU Alum is a recipient of the 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists

Darcourt's Work
Darcourt’s Work

from the Northern Clay Center site

Nicolas is a recipient of the 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Northern Michigan University, and in 2006, his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. From 2007 to 2009 he was a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts. His ceramic work has been shown both nationally and internationally, and belongs to a number of private collections. He has taught ceramics at Minnesota State University Moorhead and The University of Minnesota. Nicolas is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History Department at Gustavus Adolphus College.

We are so excited to have his work at NCC in the Six McKnight Artists exhibition from July 8th – August 27th. Mark your calendars!


NMU Ceramics Program

NMU Art & Design Faculty Teach in Western China

Continuing an established relationship, Associate Dean and Director Daric Christian traveled with Professor Keith Ellis to Aba Teachers University in the town of  Shuimo, to work with 21 Art & Design students. The University is part of China’s Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture located in Western Sichuan Province China.

Students at Aba Teachers University with NMU Professors

During the visit, Director Christian lectured on western design methodologies, including color theory and visual design hierarchy. He then led a workshop on digital photographic illustration working with students to apply the lecture concepts.

Director Christian’s Lecture
Director Christian Working with Students

Professor Ellis presented the rules of working with western typography and led a workshop on the development of a custom typeface, giving the students a specific theme to incorporate.

Professor Ellis Working with Students

Director Christian and Professor Ellis were also involved in cultural exchanges with the faculty of the School of Art & Design at Aba Teachers University exchanging teaching and design methodologies. Two Traditional Chinese Painting Faculty will be traveling to the School of Art & Design in October of 2017 to work with our students.

Enjoying local “Hot Pot” with Aba University Faculty

NMU Art & Design develops exchange with UAD Cluj-Napoca in Romania through the ERASMUS Program

Northern Michigan University and the School of Art & Design has begun an international bilateral partnership with the University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca through ERASMUS+ Programme. One of the most dynamic institutions of its kind in Romania, the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca offers students and it’s teaching openness and exceptional opportunities for artistic expression and creation both by providing exhibition spaces own and through internal and international partnerships with museums, academies, schools of higher art universities and art institutions where representatives UAD can make direct contact with the trends and directions of contemporary art today, yet can leave and personal touch of creativity and authenticity Transylvanian or Romanian.

UAD Buildings
UAD Buildings

Objectives with the partnership are to build international partnerships and collaborations with art institutions worldwide and provide international visibility to NMU, provide the broader comparison framework to its activities and provide more opportunities for the students and faculty in order to improve their skills and develop new artistic projects and research.

The School of Art & Design is proud to announce the results of the selection for the first student full semester study abroad program.  Meagan Douglass, BFA major with Ceramics emphasis, will study at the University of Art & Design from February 2017 – June 2017.  Meagan will engage in a dynamic curriculum that includes Painting, Ceramics Surface Investigations and Sculpture.

Megan Douglas Ceramic Work
Megan Douglas Ceramic Work

The School of Art & Design would also like to announce the results of the first Faculty/ Visiting Artist as part of the exchange agreement.  Associate Professor of Ceramics, Brian Kakas, will travel to UAD and teach workshops and provides lectures relating to his professional research in plaster mold making techniques and Soda Vapor Firing methods for a week during the Winter 2017 semester.

Brian Kakas Artwork
Brian Kakas Artwork

During the winter Semester of 2017, Northern Michigan University will bring two faculty members from University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca as visiting artists to engage with students throughout the school of Art & Design.  NMU will intake its first students from UAD beginning in the Fall Term of 2017.

University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca website:

Erasmus+ Mobilities website:


Designer Aaron Draplin Visits the School of Art & Design

The School of Art & Design was pleased to host award-winning graphic designer Aaron Draplin all the way from Portland, Oregon!

Draplin presents to Design Students
Draplin presents to Design Students

As a Traverse City native, Aaron has blazed his way across the design industry working for clients like Nike, Wired Magazine, Burton Snowboards Patagonia, and most recently, a best-selling author with his mid-career hardcover collection of “Pretty Much Everything”.

Student Critiques
Student Critiques

Here is a brief video recap of the event!

In addition, the school provided a whole day of workshops and talks for our students with friends at Elegant Seagulls a design firm in Marquette, Michigan and Arketype Inc Agency in GreenBay, Wisconsin contributing sessions.

Arketype Inc presentation to students
Arketype Inc presentation to students
Designers from Elegant Seagulls present to students
Designers from Elegant Seagulls present to students

This was all part of the School of Art and Design at Northern Michigan University traveling artist series. Photography and Video created by Josh LeClair, Art & Design Alum and University Photographer.


NMU Grads Groundbreaking Magazine Cover Photo

Cover shot by James Farrell
Cover shot by James Farrell

Women’s Running reports it is the first U.S. fitness magazine to feature a woman wearing a hijab on its cover and Northern Michigan University art and design graduate James Farrell (’07) photographed the subject. Farrell is based in New York City and specializes in action, sports and fitness photography. He traveled to Detroit to complete the cover shoot of Rahaf Khatib, a six-time marathoner and mother of three from Farmington Hills. Farrell captured images of her running near Comerica Park, the River Walk and other city landmarks.


A number of news sites and blogs have featured stories on the significance of the magazine’s October issue. Much of the coverage includes photos from the spread credited to Farrell.

“I’m definitely flattered by all of the attention it’s receiving, but I didn’t know it was the first of its kind until after I had finished the shoot,” Farrell said. “The magazine didn’t pitch the assignment to me that way. To be honest, I was shocked that this had never been done nationally until now. But Women’s Running has pushed the boundaries with other covers. I shot one that featured a plus-size model, which was also a first and gained a lot of traction. The magazine is always expanding the realm of running by showing the diverse women who are out there doing it. They don’t all conform to one type.”

Photo by James Farrell
Photo by James Farrell

Farrell’s action photography and athlete portraits have been featured in other publications, including Sports Illustrated, Shape and Forbes. His interest in the craft was sparked in his hometown of Petoskey, where he held a part-time job at his stepfather’s one-hour photo business. At NMU, he focused his lens on students active in snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits.



Photo by James Farrell
Photo by James Farrell

“Northern gave me my first real chance to go out on my own, learn new techniques and figure out what I wanted to do,” Farrell said. “My professors challenged me on a regular basis to make stronger and better work. And when I was tempted to shoot other things or try a different style, they told me to stick with what I was doing and perfect my craft. That’s the big thing with so much competition in the field: finding a niche and staying true to it.”



 James Farrell
James Farrell

After graduating from NMU, Farrell spent a short time in Chicago before moving to New York, where he met an agent who represents fitness models. That connection helped him to secure assignments that demonstrated his skills. He built an impressive portfolio and solidified his reputation for high-quality work in his chosen specialty. But Farrell said the final product that appears in print is often dictated by his rapport with subjects during a shoot.


“Photography is about making sure the subjects are comfortable at all times, no matter what they’re wearing, what they’re doing and what the issue is. If they’re comfortable, they’ll open up more and you’ll create memorable images. When I’m done with a shoot, people typically say it was easier than they expected.

“The other side of photography is technology. It’s hard because that’s always changing in the photo field. There’s also a big emphasis now on creating more content. Clients want to incorporate video with the photography, so I’ve been branching off into that. You need to adapt to how the industry has evolved to stay relevant and successful. The challenge I face on a daily basis is making more and stronger content that is lasting, while also maintaining a value for my business.”

Only one person pushes the shutter button to capture an image, but Farrell said professional photography requires teamwork. A minimum of two assistants accompany him to shoots to help carry gear, set up and adjust lighting and keep an eye on the computer monitor, if necessary, to make sure focus and exposure are ideal.

Farrell returns to his home state fairly often, but not typically for business. The groundbreaking Women’s Running cover story was his first high-profile shoot in the state and his first return to Detroit since he was a child.

“The downtown has changed for the better; it’s such a different place than I remember,” he said. “My wife was with me on the shoot and we had a blast there.”

Prepared By Kristi Evans
News Director 906-227-1015
Kristi Evans


Media reports on the cover’s significance, NBC NEWS

More of Farrell’s work, click here  jamesfarrellphoto.com

Learn more about  Photography at Northern Michigan Univerisity