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Fall 2021 Newsletter: Art Department Alum Highlights 

Art Department Alum Highlights 

Recent BA graduate Irma Barbosa ( 2019) continues her Art Education at UC Berkeley pursuing her MFA. 

Irma Barbosa, Self Portrait

How did UC Santa Cruz prepare you for your next steps and goals in the Arts?

Irma: “As a first-generation college graduate, I carved out my own path and double-majored in Studio Art and Feminist Theory at the University of California Santa Cruz. My research background includes a cross-examination of Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands theories in relation to Cecilia Vicuña’s interdisciplinary art practice. With the support of my advisors Jennifer Gonzalez, Bettina Apthekor, and Karolina Karlic, I received the Dean’s and Chancellor’s Award for my thesis, Cecilia Vicuña’s Pure Potential: Border Consciousness & Body Language, Border as Process, and Border as Bridge.  

Additionally, the art department awarded me with the selective Irwin Scholarship in 2018, an honor that included an end-of-the-year exhibition. This experience allowed me to visualize what a career in the arts might be like. My undergraduate experience taught me self-determination, experimentation, and essential interdisciplinary research methods that I have continued to use outside of academia. This experience also pushed me to expand my interest in pursuing a career in the arts and gave me the momentum and confidence to pursue a graduate degree as the next step. With the encouragement of my mentors and family, I applied and got into my number one choice. I am currently an MFA candidate at the University of California Berkeley's Art Practice.”

Irma Barbosa's creative practice engages with intimate relationships, private memories, and liminal space in relation to the politics of identity, and border consciousness to navigate and stitch spaces of separation. They are interested in how extensions of their body such as shadows and performances can serve as methods of translating emotions and dreams. Their navigation of nostalgia is manifested through an image-making process where her body incorporates ideas of being one with the photograph, as a form of belonging and portraying their Chicanx experience and uses the camera as a way of processing and drafting ideas.

Irma Barbosa, meta(flor)

Other Alum Announcements:

Klytie Xu, who graduated in 2021 with a double major in Art and Creative Writing, won a UCSC Chancellor's Award for her artist's book: For Each Name a Color, for Each Color a Name.

Cassidy Skillman, Art major who graduated in 2021, continues her art education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA program in Printmaking.

Two students, Saul Villegas & Silvana Moiceanu, who graduated in 2021, represented UC Santa Cruz at the international 2021 BioDesign Challenge with their project Worlds of Flora Fauna 

Sophie Lev, who graduated in 2020 with a double major in Art and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, spent the summer of 2021 interning with Creative Time in New York City.

Jocelyn Lee (BA 2020)’s print entitled ‘Monopoly property card’ was one of 877 pieces chosen from over 11,000 submissions for the de Young Open exhibition. 


Edgar Cruz, Art and Environmental Studies major who graduated in 2020, was invited to join the Bowtie Youth Council in Los Angeles through which he aims to help create change in communities of color through education and community building.

Marcus Cota, Art major who graduated in 2019, was just hired to be the Printmaking Art Instructor at the Downtown LA Art Center.

Ish Lipman (class of 2018) will be in a three person show on November 5 at the Research House for Asian Art gallery in Chicago. Currently he’s an MFA candidate in painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ish received an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation grant and was also accepted into the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Drawing in 2019.


José de Jesus Rodriguez (class of 2013) grew up in Salinas and now lives and works in Brooklyn. His paintings have been featured prominently in recent group exhibitions for Company Gallery, New York;  Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles (2021) and Charles Moffett Gallery, New York (2018). In 2018 he was an artist in residence with the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, New York. Jose received his M.F.A. from Yale School of Art in 2020.


Michael Hilsman (class of 2006) received his MFA from Hunter College in New York in 2012. He’s exhibited his work nationally and internationally including White Cube in London (Introductions online gallery) solo exhibitions at Almine Rech Gallery in New York, The Opposite of Love at Louis B. James Gallery in New York and Boneflower at Galerie Sebastien Bertrand in Geneva, Switzerland.