Ones to Watch

Pace School of Performing Arts

Dominique Fishback

Theater Arts
Deborah Johnson in Judas and the Black Messiah

Jesse James
Keitel ’15

BFA Acting
Jerrie Kennedy in Big Sky

Oscar Wahlberg ’22

BFA Acting for Film, Television, Voice-overs, and Commercials
Zach on Dexter, season 9
(premiering fall 2021)

Taking the Virtual Stage

Despite the pandemic and virtual learning, students of the Pace University School of Performing Arts (PPA) rose to the occasion to present work digitally, experiencing a brand-new way of reaching audiences. “While the pandemic stoked fear and anxiety in all of us, there were also moments that provided a sense of determination and resilience. It was inspiring to see our incredible students, staff, and faculty rise above and bring creative solutions to the table,” said Interim Executive Director Grant Kretchik, MFA.

The pandemic reached not only actors and performers but also the crew, production, and design students who faced a challenge unlike any they’ve ever experienced: bringing the stage to Zoom. “Theater people are problem solvers. When we can’t perform, we always find ways to explore, express, and fulfill our creative nature. While the result might have looked very different, the heart remained the same,” said Kretchik.


Artisha Mann-Cooper ’12

ASDS alumna forges ahead as a successful producer
and entrepreneur during the pandemic

Artisha Mann-Cooper’s journey to being a successful film producer, multihyphenated artist, and entrepreneur was not a linear one. She attended a local college instead of an art school she was accepted to, majoring in economics and finance, and heeding the advice of her mom, who was concerned for her daughter’s future security. She continued on a traditional trajectory until the stock market crash of 2008, a time that forced her to face her fears and follow her heart to enroll in the MFA in Acting program at Pace’s Actors Studio Drama School.

“One of the hardest things I could do was to leave a stable career for my dream, but I realized that nothing is really stable. If you are passionate about achieving a dream, even in the toughest of times, pursue that dream, and you will be fulfilled,” she said.

Read her full story online >>

Affairs of the Arts

From September through May, the Pace University art scene came alive with new leadership and a calendar of exhibits and artist talks to showcase student and faculty work, and inspire creativity and self-expression.

Art Faculty Exhibition

September 15–October 9, 2020 More than 25 art department faculty members were represented to open the 2020–21 academic year with their latest and exciting work.

Simonette Quamina: The Night Gardener

October 26–November 24, 2020 ‣ The Pace University Art Gallery was home to the first solo exhibition in New York of Brooklynbased printmaker Simonette Quamina.


Masked NYC:
Witness to Our Time

October 13–25, 2020 ‣ This weeklong pop-up exhibition of photography by AJ Stetson featured portraits of fellow New Yorkers wearing their masks, often at Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rallies.


Digital Exhibition launched March 1, 2021 ‣ Substance brought together the work of five abstract artists—Diego Anaya, Liz Atz, Linda Ekstrom, Adebunmi Gbadebo, and Alberto Lule—who express meaning via their materials rather than through representational imagery.

(German, n. Ghost Event)

April 19–29, 2021 ‣ This exhibition featured pieces from Project Studio, the self-directed capstone course for students graduating with a BFA in Art.


2021 Annual Art
Student Exhibition

March 31–April 9, 2021 ‣ From digital art, photography, and video to acrylics, charcoals, and watercolors, this exhibit showcased the best work of more than 60 students from the 2020-21 academic year.

In preparation for the upcoming Substance exhibit featuring abstract artists working with meaningful materials, artist and Pace art instructor Liz Atz (Elizabeth Atzberger) completed a month-long residency in the Pace University Art Gallery in March 2021. During her time in residence, she experimented with making plastics from biodegradable materials like mushrooms and shrimp shells. Atz (left) is pictured here in front of a work-in-progress with Samantha Smith ’21, who received an Academic Year Provost’s Student-Faculty Undergraduate Research Award to co-curate the exhibition with gallery director Sarah Cunningham. The resulting exhibit will be on view from September 27-October 29, 2021.

About the Artists

We are delighted to feature two Dyson College students’ artwork on the cover and inside cover of this issue. Theirs, along with many other students’ work, was showcased at the 2021 Annual Art Student Exhibition in the Pace University Art Gallery, which you can view on the art gallery’s website.

We asked our student artists to describe their piece and their inspiration for it. Here’s what they said.

Touch by Camryn Thayer ’22, Communication Studies, Art minor “This piece was inspired by, and based off, a photo I took of Park Güell in Barcelona. I was struck by the colors juxtaposing the hand and felt it would be successful if I reimagined it as a painting. Using acrylic paint, a medium I use often, I tried to make the hand as realistic as possible, while focusing less on detail in the mosaic and more on texture, shape, and color. “This piece to me represents a desire to interact with the world and our surroundings through touch, which is of course something we haven’t been able to do, or are more hesitant to do because of the pandemic.”

Read the full interview online.

Sisters by Miracle Bennett ’21 (December), Fine Arts “My inspiration for creating this piece was my family. I like to go back and pick old photographs from my childhood and repaint them, but make them more tender and light than they are photographed. I painted this image with water-based oil paint. I have used that medium once before in high school and decided to test the waters to see how it would come out now that I am older; and I actually enjoyed working with the oil and acrylic paint benefits that the medium has to offer.

“For me, this piece evokes a feeling of home, peace, love, togetherness, and just being still. It means being able to push through even during difficult times to complete a task.”

Read the full interview online.