Michaela Kahn ’20 graduated with a major in art studio and minor in performance design, and is embracing her myriad passions as she pursues a career in fashion design.
“I feel immensely grateful for my time at CC and for the opportunities I had to work with talented faculty members who supported and nurtured me in ways I could never have imagined,” Kahn says. “It is truly a gift to say that I was able to simultaneously grow, learn, and gain confidence in myself as a woman, designer, and artist all while doing what I loved. In addition, my strong interest in feminist and gender studies, fueled by impactful classes with Professor Heidi R. Lewis, influenced the way I think about my work.”
Kahn fell in love with oil painting while at CC, ultimately creating three large abstract oil paintings for her senior thesis.
“Painting on the Block Plan provided me with space to sink into my work and call the studio my home,” Kahn says. “I practically lived there for weeks at a time, only leaving for meals. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.”
Kahn’s love for fashion flourished her sophomore year at CC during her costume design class with Adjunct Associate Professor and Costume Designer Gypsy Ames. She went on to take an independent study course with Ames her junior year, designing and creating her own line of clothing.
Kahn planned to move to New York City after graduation, but her plans have been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. She worked for fashion designer and philanthropist Tory Burch for six months and continues to volunteer as an assistant at a local art gallery. Kahn recently launched her own brand, Michaela Laurel, intertwining her passion for painting, fashion design, and feminist and gender studies, using her paintings as the fabric for the pieces. To make the fabric patterns she used Adobe Photoshop to create four vibrant patterns from her original paintings.
Throughout this past winter, Kahn has been working through the stages of pattern making, sewing, building herself a website, and learning the ins and outs of starting a business. In building her brand, Kahn grounds herself in diversity, self-expression, and body positivity.
She plans to move to New York City this fall, where she is excited to join many other CC graduates in the city. She hopes to find a job in the fashion design industry while expanding Michaela Laurel.
“I am unsure where this journey will take me but with my CC work ethic, I am consumed doing what I love and feel incredibly grateful for all the support I receive from family and friends,” Kahn says.
Jabu Ndlovu ’19 is bringing a tangible impact to storytelling through a career in documentary filmmaking. Ndlovu graduated from Colorado College with their major in film and media studies and a minor in feminist and gender studies, and they are now pursuing a master of fine arts in social documentary filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
“I’ve known for a while that I wanted to pursue film, but it took some time before I landed on documentary filmmaking. My storytelling is less about journalism than it is about advocacy and uplifting others,” Ndlovu says.
Ndlovu adds that while CC classes influenced their career path, certain faculty were also important mentors. “My film professor Scott Krzych taught me that research is bigger than you. And the feminist and gender studies faculty, Professor Heidi R. Lewis, Nadia Guessous, and Rushaan Kumar, as well as Michael Sawyer, taught me to work hard, think critically and self-reflexively with compassion. Their influence helped me develop my own ethos of care, which grounds my approach as an aspiring documentary filmmaker.”
While at CC, Ndlovu brought meaning to their academics through myriad co-curricular endeavors. They played rugby; acted and directed in the student-run production, “Relations the Play”; and participated as a member and then a director for SpeakEasy, Colorado College’s student spoken word troupe.
After graduation, Ndlovu moved to New York City where they did carpentry woodworking for a frame shop and photo studio while interning in a production house on the Lower East Side. They started working at Show of Force — a documentary, TV series, and transmedia company — as an office manager in 2020 and have been working there ever since.
Ndlovu applied to MFA programs last spring when the pandemic started and enrolled at SVA this past fall. It’s been nearly a year of virtual learning, but Ndlovu has kept busy balancing their studies with employment and independent projects. Ndlovu worked on HBO’s “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children,” and is working on another HBO series which is slated to premier in the next few years.
Ndlovu says that there is a strong CC alumni artist community in New York City, and these former classmates have become artistic collaborators and friends. Fellow young alumni have made cameo appearances in Ndlovu’s class projects, or have contributed behind the lens.
“Long term, I want to continue to make films for and with the communities I care about, from the ground up,” Ndlovu says.
Amber Mustafic ’19 creates one-of-a-kind embroidery pieces that weave together whimsical dreamlike imagery, creative wordplay, and expressive stitching that emulates brushstrokes. It’s no accident, as Mustafic was a seasoned painter long before she discovered her love for textiles.
Mustafic graduated from CC with a major in art history and a minor in museum studies, but took many art studio classes throughout her time at CC and honed her craft as an oil painter. She created several larger-than-life portraits as a student and continues to explore portraiture through both her embroidery and photography.
After graduation, Mustafic worked as a design fellow at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. For the first half of her yearlong fellowship, she developed an art loan program using CC’s art collection, collaborating with CC’s art department and FAC staff. For the second part of her fellowship, she devoted her time to creating her own original artwork.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused Mustafic to vacate her on-campus studio where she had planned to devote her time to painting, and space constraints inspired Mustafic to explore more “portable” forms of artistic expression. She found a new medium with myriad opportunities for experimentation in embroidery. Mustafic brought her love of photography into her work by dyeing fabric with cyanotype to overlay images, adding accents over the fabric.
“These pieces are an extension of me. They often include imagery — either direct or symbolic — of people and places I love,” Mustafic says. “My affinity for plants reflects an admiration for growth and rebirth, which is especially poignant right now, as we’re collectively healing from but at the same still facing this pandemic.”
Mustafic has broadened her craft to include commissioned pieces, which has challenged her to create imagery outside of her choice imagery of portraiture and flora. She is currently creating her original pieces from her home studio in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Jeremy Zucker ’18 began releasing music officially as an up-and-coming pop musician with his debut EP “Beach Island” in 2015. Zucker continued to create music and perform while at CC, and eventually signed a record deal with Republic Records during his senior year before graduating in 2018 with his B.A. in organismal biology and kinesiology. While at CC, Zucker was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, served as a resident adviser, sang in the a cappella group The Back Row, and played a semester of rugby.
Since graduating, he has pursued music full-time — currently creating from his Brooklyn studio — and gained international recognition with his 2018 platinum hit “comethru.” Zucker explores mental health and relationships through his music, blending poetic lyrics with dreamy production. While he isn’t applying his major directly to his work post-grad, Zucker says that the relationships he made with professors, mentors, and friends have both provided stability in his transition to life after CC and have inspired his creative process.
Over the past few years Zucker has become one of the most prominent emerging artists in the industry. To date, he has gained more than 3.5 billion global streams across his catalogue with a number of platinum and gold singles including “comethru,” “you were good to me,” and many more. He has toured across the world including North America, Europe, and Asia, and was set to go on his biggest headline tour to date in 2020 before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Initially, it was difficult to create new music, back when COVID first started. I think a lot of us were pretty in shock with the gravity of the situation. It’s been a heavy year for so many people,” Zucker says. He adds that the pandemic has affected certain communities more than others, especially those struggling with mental health.
“I’m grateful to have had my creative outlets; making music has helped me stay grounded and express emotions that are sometimes hard to access in my day-to-day life. And I’m so grateful to be collaborating with other artists who I admire,” he says — artists like friend and frequent collaborator Chelsea Cutler. The two released a new EP “brent ii” in February. To celebrate the release during the pandemic, they put on “brent: live on the internet,” a special livestream show that aired for one night across the globe.
Sabrina Piersol ’17 double-majored in studio art and classics at Colorado College. Fascinated by the myriad meanings words can hold, Piersol says that studying Greek with Professors Marcia Dobson and Owen Cramer allowed her to explore translation as a practice, which has been extremely influential to her work. She adds that her CC blocks abroad in Spain studying drawing and in Italy studying ancient history and art history aided in the synthesis of her disparate majors.
Piersol is grateful to all faculty members at CC who contributed to her growth and learning, and gives special thanks to Professor of Art and Russian and Eurasian Studies Ruth Kolarik, who was her faculty adviser for her classics and art combined thesis project.
“Learning and working on the Block Plan allowed me to delve in uninhibited, and through immersive blocks I was able to engage even deeper with course materials, my professors, and other students,” Piersol says. “Some of my favorite memories were long nights in the CC print shop. I was so lucky to have such an amazing facility at my fingertips.”
After graduating, Piersol moved into a live-work warehouse in Los Angeles with other artists, which doubled as a gallery and concert venue where the cohort frequently put on shows. She found work at a fine art print shop, Josephine Press, but to make ends meet took shifts at a fitness studio and burger stand. Soon after she started working with a company that specializes in virtual reality producing, designing concept art, and developing creative pitches. After a couple of years a mentor invited Piersol to work for a speculative design firm that researches and designs cities of the future.
“One of the most compelling projects I worked on was developing a floating city in the year 2070,” Piersol says. “During my time working for the firm, I was challenged to create and articulate various kinds of visual vocabularies in art and design endeavors.”
In the fall of 2020, Piersol began her master’s in visual arts at the University of California, San Diego, where she is currently studying and teaching. Piersol plans to continue pursuing art and academia.
“I hope I am always painting,” Piersol says. “I would love to be showing work represented by a gallery. And I would also love to continue teaching at the college level, maybe one day even at CC!”