Graduate Students are Ready to Showcase Their Work in this Year’s Manifest
Students come to Columbia College Chicago to pursue their creative passions. Throughout their Columbia experience, students learn to hone their skills and how to move forward in their chosen field. At the culmination of a student’s education, they are invited to participate in Manifest Urban Arts Festival, a student driven event which showcases graduating student work and the next generation of artists and creative professionals.
Manifest is an annual tradition and a defining ritual for graduating students. It brings the entire community together to celebrate our creative spirit and develop long-lasting, memorable relationships and connections. Manifest will take place May 10 – May 14, 2021 and all student artwork will be able to be seen at: www.manifest.colum.edu/
As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Manifest, we wanted to highlight a few MFA students to learn more about their Columbia experiences, how they’ve been cultivating their work to showcase in this year’s Manifest and how each finds inspiration to pursue their art.
Juliana Ravelli MFA Creative Writing Nonfiction ‘21
Juliana Ravelli was a journalist in Brazil when she and her husband moved to the United States in 2015. They moved to Washington D.C. so Ravelli’s husband could pursue his master’s degree, then moved to Chicago for him to pursue his PhD. During this period, Ravelli wasn’t able to work or study due to her visa. Now, she says that in a time of stasis and isolation, art saved her. “In fact, art has been saving me my whole life,” said Ravelli. She found a writing group at the Edgewater Public Library, and soon learned that her writing was well received. As a result, she began to consider pursuing a creative writing graduate program. Now, Ravelli is preparing to graduate with an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction.
Ravelli has been working on a collection of essays since her first semester. “But I feel that, in a way, I’ve been writing some of those essays almost my entire life,” said Ravelli. “Writers usually say that there isn't such a thing as ‘finished texts,’ only ‘abandoned texts.’ So, I would certainly keep working on my collection if I had more time.” Ravelli finds inspiration for her work from art, nature, ordinary people and things, and real life. “I love to observe the movement of the world around me. Specifically, about my collection of personal essays, I got inspiration from my obsessions: my family, memory, my country. My book talks about my first years in the U.S. It is a reflection on identity, family, (im)migration, working class, women’s invisibility, love, language, the intersections between Brazil and the U.S., and the price we must pay for our choices,” Ravelli added.
Following graduation, Ravelli is most excited to apply the knowledge she’s learned from the Creative Writing Nonfiction MFA program by sharing it with people in Brazil. In the fall of 2020, Ravelli created a project where she teaches creative writing to young Brazilian writers with underprivileged backgrounds. She hopes to expand this project to help even more people. “Being an artist in Brazil is really, really hard. Graduating in my MFA at Columbia College is a huge privilege that I don't take for granted. My program gave me the tools I needed and made me see that, with hard work, I can live from my art. And now I’m also eager to share everything I learned here with the people in my country,” said Ravelli.
Chelsea Fetherlin Fine Arts MFA ‘21
Chelsea Fetherlin is an interdisciplinary artist who will be graduating from the Fine Arts MFA program this year. Fetherlin received a BFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and developed a passion for teaching foundations in art. “I knew for my MFA that I needed to find a school that would allow me to work in an interdisciplinary manner, that was committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that would afford me professional opportunities in education. Columbia was a perfect fit,” said Fetherlin.
Lana Turner by Chelsea Fetherlin
Fetherlin has been working on her thesis for about a year. Fetherlin’s work focuses on the female experience, particularly concerning health. She’s found inspiration through lived experience, and through testimonies of other women. Following graduation, Fetherlin plans to start her own feminist press.
Shout Shout Inside by Chelsea Fetherlin
Stephanie Reyes-Echevarria, European Devised Performance Practice MFA ‘21
Stephanie Reyes-Echevarria has always been interested in the arts. She attended the Instituto de Danza Alicia Alonso in Madrid to pursue a Dance BA with a concentration in Contemporary Dance. After completing her undergraduate degree, Reyes-Echevarria knew that she also wanted to create pieces that include other styles and methodologies like theatre, visual art, and more. “That’s why I decided to pursue my MFA at Columbia College Chicago,” said Reyes-Echevarria, “I found the European Devised Performance Practice Program by searching theatre programs that could give me the tools to construct the type of work that I want it to do.”
Reyes-Echevarria is from Corozal, Puerto Rico and wove her history into her thesis project that will be featured at this year’s Manifest. Reyes-Echevarria explored the theme of colonization, as Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world. “Colonial status brings so much more to our imagination than just a language, behavior, and territorial repercussions. I am interested in the trauma of identity of the colonized minds and in exploring the conscious and subconscious of the colonized imagination,” said Reyes-Echevarria. It has taken Reyes-Echevarria around three and a half months to come up with a thirty-five-minute piece, where she uses an illustrious person from the island, named Luisa Capetillo, to inspire one of her characters. Reyes-Echevarria also uses dual language, puppetry, physical movement and more.
Photo of Character Luisa in Reyes-Echevarria Thesis Piece
After graduation, Reyes-Echevarria is excited to continue diversifying the stories she tells. She identifies as a Latina woman artist and she aims to keep empowering oppressed communities to tell their stories and to give them the space to do so. “It is our time to fight for those spaces, and I will fight for it and make it happen,” she added.
Photo of Puppet Creation in Reyes-Echevarria Thesis Piece