Featuring the diverse and creative people working to build a new independent art college

An Interview with Shohei Katayama

Shohei Katayama, Assistant Professor of Studio Art

Who is Shohei Katayama? An artist.

Where are you originally from? I lived in Tokyo for the first half of my life and moved to Louisville, KY in high school.

What is your previous work experience? I have worked in services relating to fabrication and installation. Post-graduate school, I have been primarily working as an artist in the field of public art, immersive installation and sculpture.

What brought you to KyCAD? I wanted to reconnect with the city and its community after being away for graduate school at Carnegie Mellon. I believe its valuable and imperative for the city to exchange creative thought processes with cities beyond Louisville – a form of cross-pollination. Aside from that, the subject-led curriculum was attractive since the school I attended emphasized interdisciplinary practices.

What is your favorite thing about KyCAD? Its ambition in developing a unique teaching system, and the community.

What drives your passion for education in the arts? Sculpting a better future by informing the next generation of the mistakes of the past.

Describe an “aha!” moment in your life. Every day is an “aha!” moment for me. You learn something new every day (if you pay attention).

What is your favorite part of the contemporary arts? As a jack of all trades and master at none, I feel free to produce anything and address it as contemporary art. That being said, whether it’s good or bad is another story.
I also appreciate how narrative-driven art is more prevalent, as it helps viewers to connect and engage with the topic at a more intimate level. It’s also a great platform to address pressing matters to the public.

What are the top three things you like about the arts scene in Louisville?

1. Energy
2. Thoughtful
3. Always growing.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? I haven’t been here too long…but going on a cycling tour with staff/faculty was a memorable experience.

What do you like most about your role? Witnessing student growth. It’s like planting a seed and seeing it sprout.

Use three words to describe yourself. Happy, existential, human.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? I am starting a Project Space in Old Louisville called “Carbon Copy.” The venue will be dedicated to exhibiting experimental art.


An Interview with Jeff Brice

Jeff Brice, Chair, Center of Visualization and Professor of Studio Art

Where are you originally from? I was born in Atlanta, Ga but spent my teen years in Hudson, Ohio. I attended Parsons School of Design in NYC out of high school and graduated with a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After college, I went back to NYC to get a MA from New York Institute of Technology. I worked in NYC for several years before moving to Seattle, WA.

What is your previous work experience? After graduate school, I started a digital illustration studio in NYC with another illustrator.
We did work for ad agencies, record labels, magazines and HBO. During that time, I was also an adjunct teaching computer graphics in the master’s program at NYIT. I worked for some time at a R&D lab called Computer Graphics Lab as an international instructor for their mainframe graphic systems. Moving to Seattle I went back to full-time illustration and design. My business took off and became international when I started working with an artist rep who handled my client calls and contracts. I enjoyed a lot of success working with Wired, Newsweek, Time, National Geographic, to name a few of my editorial clients. I also worked with major corporations, non-profits and a variety of institutions. After two decades in the illustration industry, I went back to teaching at Cornish College of Art, full-time, as Head of Digital Design. I taught illustration, game arts, and motion design for ten years, and became full professor before moving into a leadership role as Chair of Design. I left Cornish last year and immediately started my current role as Chair of the Center for Visualization and Design Professor at KyCAD.

What brought you to KyCAD? I left Cornish last year and learned about KyCAD through President Payne. We had a good working relationship at Cornish when she was Provost there. Last June, she invited me to take part in a collaboration with the Envirome Institute to create visualizations for their work on Covid (an exhibition of the work is now up in the 849 Gallery). She told me about the new school and that there was an opening position. The timing was perfect since I had just left my position at Cornish. I really enjoy designing curriculum and the new program at KyCAD is such an exciting opportunity.

What is your favorite thing about KyCAD? The espresso machine at the Mansion. I mean, I am from Seattle! But seriously, the people at KyCAD are all really wonderful colleagues. Working at a small startup is challenging, so having a positive team is essential! Everyone is able to maintain a positive work environment while doing the challenging work of accreditation, curriculum development, student advising, finances, and all the other tasks that need to be taken care of. Not to mention the real-time adjustment to the pandemic.

What drives your passion for education in the arts? I have years of experience in both the professional industry and academia. Both are interesting in different ways. Working in arts education is an inspiring place to share ideas that aren’t found in the industry. I mean the word “semiotics” never seems to come up in client discussions! I have a passion for reading theory and idea-sharing, so academia feels like home to me.

Describe an “aha!” moment in your life. I would have to say when I realized that illustration could be my creative focus rather than a side hustle to finance my fine art! For the first part of my career, I really was focused on gallery exhibitions. Illustration was a necessary evil to fund real creativity. But when I started integrating my own personal visions into my illustration work, I felt like there was a resonance there. That’s when I started reading design theory and got invested in illustration as a means to express contemporary aesthetics.

What is your favorite part of the contemporary arts? My own art practice has always been coupled with technology, so I have a real interest in some of the ways technology continues to change opportunities and markets for artists. There are some really significant technologies on the horizon. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are environmentally harmful right now but they point to new paradigms of alternative financial structures that might expand markets. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence are two other groundbreaking innovative technologies that are changing the way we create and interact with each other and with our environments. Ideally, they will advance a continued embodiment of aesthetics into our everyday lives.

What are the top three things you like about the arts scene in Louisville? First of all, the murals of the city! There are so many impressive murals in Louisville! That was one of the first things that hit me when I arrived. The second thing I appreciate about the Louisville arts scene is the generous support for artist grants by individuals and institutions, which is really amazing. There is a real interest to support artists in their lines of inquiry and with a personal relationship to them by the donors. Like meeting Julien Robson, the head of the Great Meadows Foundation, at the 849 Gallery and seeing how personally invested he is in helping Louisville artists expand their visibility and horizons. And finally, 21C is a fantastic venue for the arts. They seem to be showcasing really exciting work.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? Apart from the toppling of the great Maple tree at the Mansion, I would have to say when I heard my students Alyx McCain and Colin Shay won an international contest for their Lidar scans of graffiti in an abandoned stairwell. They used KyCAD’s iPads to scan environments and objects into 3D models for submission. They submitted their scans of a stairwell to (THE site for 3D models) Graffiti competition. The competition was truly fierce with entries from all over the world. They won because of the masterful way they combined scans into an interesting narrative—not an easy thing to do for a single model.

What do you like most about your role? As I mentioned earlier, I like creating curriculum. It is an interesting “systems-thinking” challenge to create a program that acts as a learning framework to prepare students for creative practices. I find it satisfying when a program is designed well and organizes a diversity of interactions into a functioning whole. There are a lot of ways to design learning frameworks. KyCAD is embarking on creating something novel that can reflect the way artists work today.

Use three words to describe yourself. intuitive, industrious, curious


An Interview with Chris Glasser

Manager of IT and Systems

Where are you originally from? Louisville, KY. Born and raised here. Moved away when I was 18, came back when I was 30.

What is your previous work experience? I worked at the Exploration School (Explo), an education non-profit in the Boston area from 2006-10. I worked in the public school system in Portland, OR in 2011-12, then transitioned my career into IT. Worked in IT at Daimler Trucks of North America in 2012. Moved back to Louisville in 2013 and started at LOJIC, which is the GIS division of Louisville Metro Government. I started at KyCAD in spring 2020.

What brought you to KyCAD? Really drawn to the mission and being part of a small team. KyCAD reminds me of Explo, my job in Boston. A small group of people committed to making something big happen, a great community, and a really supportive, fun culture.

What is your favorite thing about KyCAD? The same things as mentioned above. A sense of mission about what we’re doing, a fun, supportive vibe in the office. Lots of great, generous people. Also, Churchill (the founder) is a riot. Always picks my day up when I get to talk to him.

What drives your passion for education in the arts? My sister and mom are both artists. I’ve always been more of a writer — my undergraduate degree was in the liberal arts. I think it’s important to have some education on how to see and think about the world. And to reflect back on what you find beautiful or interesting about the world.

Describe an “aha!” moment in your life. The first few months after my children were born. It has made me value trying to be a more patient person. More accepting of what life throws your way. You learn with kids that a lot of things are out of your control. I’ve tried to embrace that and learn from it, instead of fight against it. Like, if we’re up at 3:00 a.m. singing songs — that’s maybe not what I would’ve chosen to do on my own, but it’s what’s happening on this night and so, just let it be.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? I’ve led some group bike rides for the KyCAD team. We’ve biked into South Louisville and into Cherokee Park. So fun to see people in a different context from work, and I’ve been grateful for how supportive and eager everyone has been to go on the rides. Plenty of folks aren’t experienced riders, but they come out and everyone has a lot of fun.

What do you like most about your role? I get to wear lots of different hats, be involved in lots of different things, and learn a lot of new things as I go. My boss Denise is very trusting, very willing to offer me opportunities to grow.


An Interview with Denise O’Donnell

CFO/CPO – Vice President of Finance, IT, and Human Capital Management (HCM)

Who is Denise O’Donnell? Who am I? I am a mission-driven individual that believes in fundamentally doing things for the greater good, even if it is more work in the present moment.

I am an intentional human. I practice being present in the conversation, actively listening, being mindful of others and what they might be going through, and always being driven to put forth my best effort.

I work a lot and falter on not having enough work-life balance, but I am always striving to better, taking each day as it comes and learning from the one before.

Where are you originally from? I am originally from Paisley, Scotland.

Paisley is Scotland’s fifth-largest town located in the west-central lowlands; it is known for its civic history in the art of weaving. Although our weavings mills are closed today and have been since 1993, the town still holds celebrations recognizing the anniversary of when we were the industry leaders. During that tenure, our town gave its name to the Paisley Pattern’s famous design that you see throughout the modern world.

What is your previous work experience? My introduction to the working world was at the age of thirteen when I got my first paper round—working my way from a few customers to having my first small business by fourteen. Although it is not directly correlated with my work today, I learned from my inauguration to the working world that you must have discipline, integrity, and drive; 3 core elements I apply to everything that I do.

I have spent time in engineering and manufacturing as an internal auditor and worked for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs at home in the UK. In the United States, I have practiced as a government auditor, an S1 filing to take an energy company public to the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE, and I have come through the ranks of finance in higher education.

In my previous role at Hocking College, I had oversight of areas such as finance, financial aid, athletics, grants, and the Hocking College Foundation. During my tenure, I tenaciously strived for excellence in entrepreneurship in higher education. My main projects were focused on leading and designing projects such as the opening of the State of Ohio’s first Medical Marijuana Testing Lab, a Water Park, a Dog Grooming and Boarding Facility, and a Distillery and rebuilding the athletics department as I had playing and coaching experience at the college level.

What brought you to KyCAD? I had previous ties to KyCAD, working directly with the organization as a part of the Spalding accounting team. Upon President Payne’s arrival, I was seconded to KyCAD for a short time before moving to Hocking College.

As I resigned from KyCAD, I remember sitting with President Payne and saying, “Once I have learned more, grown in my career, if there is ever an opportunity at KyCAD, I would be humbled to be considered.” After a few years passed, there was a need at KyCAD, and the college had grown, and so had I. I was ecstatic to apply for the position.

I believe in access to education, and I am also a supporter of breaking the structure of “traditional” education. KyCAD’s mission and service align with me and who I am, an essential component of my work.

What is your favorite thing about KyCAD? The People. The Mansion. The Donors. The Student Studios. The Board of Trustees. The 849 Gallery. The Culture. Where should I begin?

KyCAD is unique in many ways, but my favorite thing about it is the attitude and drive of those involved. Everyone plays a vital role in the success of the college. KyCAD is a small, tenacious, creative, intelligent, dedicated team of people inspired to create Kentucky’s First Accredited Independent College of Art + Design for our students.

What drives your passion for education in the arts? Art influences society by challenging opinions, changing perspectives, and translating experiences for people to connect to and with.

Without artists, our world would be boring and bland. Without anyone challenging the accepted ways of thinking, we would not grow or innovate. The artist takes complex Information, communicates, and translates it for us to understand and conceptualize.

Without trained and educated artists in our world, we stay stagnant in our progress towards a different, more sustainable future.

Describe an “aha!” moment in your life. My “aha!” moment in life was when I chose to learn and understand myself. That might sound arrogant to some, so let me explain.

Have you ever had a candid conversation with yourself? Have you ever written down your mission, vision, or values? Someone asked that question one day, and ever since that moment, I was hooked on trying to learn who I am as a human.

I began to work within and live my life through the lens of a Japanese Concept called “Ikigai,” meaning to be content. To live out this concept, I needed to discover the way of life that gave me the feeling of being at ease with who I am and where I am on my journey to understand myself fully.

After learning myself, I know what makes me content in life, what brings happiness, and how to handle the roadblocks that life can throw our way.

It is a journey I am still on, and I still study my Ikigai annually in October to ensure the things I am doing align with the life practice I am striving to achieve.

What is your favorite part of the contemporary arts? The variety of perspectives and the lens that an artist can view through.

The City as Campus concept at KyCAD allows the artist to create a dialogue or narrative within their work. While all students in a class might be given the same assignment, everyone approaches their work so differently that the produced results never fail to astound me.

As a former athlete and a current accountant, my mind tends to navigate to the logical side, where the only outcome is the only outcome. Working daily with artists has allowed me to expand my thinking, patterns of thought and problem-solve with a different approach to finding solutions to problems.

What are the top three things you like about the arts scene in Louisville? I enjoy the Louisville Arts Scene’s eclectic mix from the Louisville Orchestra to Actors Theatre to 21C, and they are all right in our backyard.

The Visual Arts are growing in Louisville thanks to the support of organizations such as The Speed Museum, The Great Meadows Foundation, and KyCAD. We hope to see continued momentum in this space.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? I remember sitting as a guest at the 2018 KyCAD Gala, and President Payne announced that the college had obtained its licensure through the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education. The buzz and excitement rippled through the gala attendees; the atmosphere was electric.

It was then, even a supporting guest, I thought to myself, KyCAD is going to be something phenomenal in the future.

What do you like most about your role? My role is to serve the institution as I operate within the support departments of the college. I enjoy that my role crosses a myriad of departments. I see the picture from start to finish and have the opportunity to conceptualize the nuts and bolts of what it takes for the organization to run and strategic thinking and future planning. It is terrific watching it all come together.

Use three words to describe yourself. Intentional. Modest. Tenacious.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Vincent Van Gough said I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream. For me, this encapsulates KyCAD. Our Founder and Chancellor Churchill Davenport dreamed of having a college of art and design here in Louisville, Kentucky. As he and President Payne lead KyCAD forward, we are all helping to assist in the curation of KyCAD so that what was once a dream can become a reality and serve out its mission for centuries to come.


An Interview with Mackenzie Taylor

Junior BFA Student

Mackenzie TaylorWho is Mackenzie Taylor? A sister, a daughter, a friend, and last but not least an artist.

What drives your passion in the arts and as an art and design student? My passion for art comes from understanding myself and experiencing the world we live in. I am intrigued by the awe of art, what makes a person enter a different reality when seeing certain pieces of work. Through art I want to understand where identity and commonality lie. As a student, I am driven by the knowledge and cheat codes of navigating through this world differently and more efficiently.

Who is your favorite artist (i.e. sculptor, metal fabricator, and more)? As of now, Lorna Simpson, much of her work deals with questions I have myself. The vast number of underlying messages and ambiguity draws me to her work. When seeing her work, I resonate with it so much I can picture myself going through the motions. Also, she doesn’t restrict her concepts to just one medium.

What is your favorite food? I love food! I love experiencing taste. It’s easier to say my least favorite is tomato-based food, and only because of an intolerance to tomatoes.

Best movie you’ve seen in your lifetime? “Crooklyn” A Spike Lee Joint. I could watch this a thousand times; I grew up on this movie. Many of the scenes relate to my life which may be the reasons why I am drawn to it.

What was an aha moment for you? The viewer is also an important part of your work. For a gaze to last you must purposely create open-ended questions for the viewer.

Best thing you like about the arts in Louisville? There is a little bit of everything.

What has been your favorite class at KyCAD thus far? Capstone, I am able to find myself within my work. I also can test out newly learned skills from other classes or other works. This class helps tremendously shaping who you and your art are.


An Interview with Céline Browning

Artist, Professor of Studio Arts at KyCAD

Who is Professor Céline Browning? I am an artist, art writer and educator from Chicago. Using the vocabulary of surrealism and pop-art, I deconstruct, combine, and repurpose familiar functional objects, creating an uncanny visual language that reimagines what these objects signify.

What drives your passion in the arts: as an artist and professor of studio arts? The capacity of art to create positive social change.

You’ve just been awarded a wonderful opportunity. Can you tell us about it? And what it would mean for you as an educator and artist? One of the keys to maintaining a creative practice is understanding how you work best, and under what conditions you produce your best work. Then, you need to consistently look for opportunities to cultivate those moments. I’ve found that my work is best served by seeking out periodic spells of isolation, preferably in the woods. Thankfully, many artist residencies provide just this kind of environment. For me, residencies offer time and space. Not just physical space, but more importantly, mental space.

Who is your favorite artist (or two)? There are so many. A few of the artists whose work I return to again and again are Lee Bontecou, Mona Hatoum, and Doris Salcedo. Sometimes the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Lenora Carrington haunts my dreams.

What is your favorite food? Chicago-style hot dogs. Hands down.

Best movie you’ve seen in your lifetime? Jurassic Park. It was incredible in 1993, and it still blows my mind in 2021.

What was an aha moment for you? Realizing, after getting my BFA in studio craft and my MFA in metal, that I was actually a sculptor, and that I didn’t need to use metal to make good work.

Top three things you like about the arts in Louisville? I can’t wait to answer this question after the pandemic has died down. I moved to Louisville in August of 2020, so I still feel like I don’t really know the arts in Louisville. I will say that I love the Speed Museum, Quappi Projects, the architecture in Old Louisville, and North Lime’s donuts.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? Three-way tie:

  • Accidentally setting off the alarm in the mansion and scrambling around like a headless chicken to turn it off;
  • Participating in a virtual meditation led by Owsley Brown in Mindful Studio this fall;
  • Attending the first Junior Capstone critique and feeling simultaneously excited by the wonderful work the students were creating and privileged that I can be part of their journey.


An Interview with Melissa Liptrap

Registrar and Unsung Hero…

How do you make a difference in the student’s lives at KyCAD? (i.e. what is most important about your role?) I really value helping students find their path to the finish line.  Tracking each student’s progress toward degree completion is important, but it is also exciting to follow.

What is your favorite pastime? Growing up, I always camped with my family, but I didn’t have the same appreciation for it that I do now. I love being outdoors, camping, hiking, and exploring. 

Why did you choose KyCAD?  When I started at KyCAD, it was still the Kentucky School of Art. I was really excited by the potential of the school and the opportunity to help it grow. The school has evolved so much over the years. It has been really challenging and really rewarding.

Who is your favorite artist (or two)? I don’t know that I can name a favorite, but I am really fascinated by Ian Cheng’s work. 

What is your favorite food? I love eating food that I’ve made with my family. Spicy and savory foods win out for me over sweets!

Best movie you’ve seen in your lifetime? I don’t watch a lot of movies, but Pina 3D was a beautifully shot tribute to choreographer Pina Bausch and I think of it often. 

Top three things you like about the arts in Louisville? Community, collaboration, and connection.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? When the first class of students graduated from our program at Spalding, that was a pretty memorable day. I’m really looking forward to seeing our first class of graduates as an independent institution!


An Interview with Andrew Cozzens

Associate Professor of Studio Arts, Director of Operations, & Chair, Center for Environment – KyCAD

What drives your passion in the arts: as an artist and professor of studio arts? I’ve always loved making. That’s where it started. I love learning new skills and working with new materials and processes. I also love people. Through my research and studio practice, I address our collective problematic relationship to time, and through my teaching, I help students explore their interests to develop their own practice that exercises their own voice in a way that is meaningful to them.

Who is your favorite artist (or two)? I am going to cheat with this question. I have to start with Tehching Hsieh, but tied for second is James Turrell, Bruce Nauman, Ai Wei Wei, Olafur Eliasson, Ana Mendieta, Guiseppe Penone, Anne Hamilton, Roman Signer, Rachel Whiteread, and many more. Those are the big names. There are so many more and I am embarrassed for not listing all of the artists that have been my favorite at a specific place and time.

What is your favorite food? I really just like anything that is prepared with a little TLC. As for favorites, I love good pizza, soup dumplings, and Mediterranean food.

Best movie you’ve seen in your lifetime? City of God and Inglorious Bastards… those two come to mind right off the bat, but there are so many good films out there that it’s tough to think about a favorite for too long.

What was an aha moment for you? When I realized that I had spent hours and hours and hours sitting in my studio watching metal slowly rust. It was research for a different project, but I did it day after day for quite a while. I learned so much from doing it and enjoyed doing it so much, that I began to shift my focus from just making artwork ABOUT time, to examining the human EXPERIENCE of time.

What has been your most memorable moment at KyCAD? Teaching Senior Thesis. There is nothing like watching a student develop their work and their practice to a place where they are creating and exhibiting artwork that truly represents their own interests as individual artists.

Top three things you like about the arts in Louisville? 

  1. The Community. I should probably make this my 1, 2, and 3.
  2. The Diversity/ Variety. There are artists here doing so many different things. It’s fantastic!
  3. The Resources. Compared to other cities, being an artist and living in Louisville is very doable!


An Interview with Austin Kopp

Junior BFA Student & Rising Fashion Designer – Austin Kopp(AK)

Who is Austin Kopp? I am a very detail-oriented and organized person. There is a rhyme or reason for everything I do. I believe every decision we make will have an impact on the future, so I live my life in a disciplined and morally driven way. I strive to be as productive as possible, and I attempt to experience as many new things as I can because I feel as if I can never consume enough. I am a creative individual because of my personality, not my skills. I believe as people, we all have untapped potentials; mine are never-ending. If I set my mind to something, I will approach it with all my efforts and energy. I believe my talents come from my drive to learn and grow as a person. As a creative individual, I strive for authenticity. I don’t create and work tirelessly because I want to be recognized, paid or respected. I am here to learn, grow and be the best version of myself.

What drives your passion in the arts, and as an art and design student? What drives my passion is growth. I create because I learn something every time I go through the process of developing a new product. Whether it was a success or not, there is always something I take away from that experience, whether good or bad. I feel that in my clothing, there is a much deeper passion that drives me. When developing products, I strive to be fully engaged in the medium and my practice. When I design clothing, I do it based off my style and my vision. My goal is to fully submit to the work and allow for the purity and authenticity in myself to prevail in my creations. My passion is driven by the feeling my customers get when wearing one of my products. I create clothing because of my unique sense of style, and I sell clothing to make people feel unique and empowered.

Who is your favorite fashion designer? I wouldn’t say I have a single favorite designer because I admire so many different designers and styles. I feel the clothing industry is ever-evolving, so it is hard to distinguish who my favorite would be. Even though I like so many, Rhuigi Villaseñor is a designer that particularly stands out due to his rapid success and extremely unique designs.

What is your favorite food? Seafood or Italian

Best movie you’ve seen in your lifetime? Interstellar, if it’s not the best it would definitely be in my top 10.

What was an aha moment for you? One of the biggest aha moments I’ve had was when I first started making clothing. I essentially had no knowledge or formal education going into fashion design, everything I know has been self-taught. My first aha moment was about eight months in; I began to get experimental with my designs and their functions. I started to develop a trucker jacket that I believed could have been one of the most unique articles of clothing I’ve ever seen. It took me about five to six months to design and complete, but when I finished it, I was in awe with myself. Not only did it fit extremely well, but it was truly one of the most unique pieces of clothing I have ever seen. That is when I knew this path was for me.

Best thing you like about the arts in Louisville? For me personally, the best thing about the arts in Louisville is that the playing floor isn’t saturated. I believe Louisville is in the process of developing a much larger art scene than the city has ever seen, and I am extremely excited for what the future brings!

What has been your favorite class at KyCAD thus far? One of my favorite classes at KyCAD was a film introduction class. It was one of my favorites because I had never been introduced to that side of art/design, so it was very exciting to learn more about it.