Celebrating 60 Years of Successful Alumni

 

UConn's School of Fine Arts turns 60 this year! To celebrate, we are highlighting 60 successful SFA graduates who all have successful careers in a range of different fields. Browse our alumni and learn more as we celebrate our brilliant past and look to a bright future.

Kathryn Bowden

Kathryn Bowden – ’10

Profession: Opera Singer and Voice Teacher

Major: Opera Singer and Voice Teacher

Department: Music

Accomplishments: Metropolitan Opera debut, San Francisco Opera debut, Carnegie Hall debut

About Kathryn: Kathryn Bowden has been making her way through the opera world singing the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The role has served as a vehicle for her debut at several large opera houses around the company. When she is not on contract, Kathryn teaches voice lessons in Connecticut.

Thoughts on SFA: “The most important thing I learned at the School of Fine Arts is that vocal health is important above all else! Take the best care of yourself so you can make the best music!”

Learn More: www.kathrynbowdensoprano.com, Facebook: Kathryn Bowden, Soprano, Instagram : @kathrynbowdensoprano

Dan K. Chen

Dan K. Chen – ’07

Profession: Prototyping Engineer

Major: Studio Art (Communication Design)

Department: Art & Art History

Accomplishments: TEDx Vienna and TEDx Bologna Speaker, Currently working at Oculus FRL

About Dan: Dan is an interaction designer with several years of software and hardware prototyping and production experience. He communicates his ideas through working prototypes, design research insights, exploring new ways of user interactions. He has several degrees including a MAS from MIT, an MFA in digital media from RISD and a BFA in communication design from UConn. He has over 13 years of design experience. This includes past experience at MIT Lifelong Kindergarten as an industrial designer and mechanical engineer, and Johnson & Johnson as Senior Interaction Designer. Senior Interaction Designer at IDEO. His work has been featured in CNET, The Huffington Post, the verge, Engadget, Mashable and Daily Mail. Dan was invited as a speaker at TEDx Vienna and TEDx Bologna. His work was exhibited in Vitra Design Museum, MAK Wien, Design Museum Gent, Seoul Museum of Art & Ars Electronica. Working in the realms of interaction design and product design, Dan explores the new ways of interaction and communication through working prototypes and storytelling, inviting a reflective evaluation and implication.

Thoughts on SFA: “UConn SFA helped me develop strong communication skills which aid in all aspects of my life – from professional life to personal life and everything that falls in between.”

Learn more: danchen.me

Scott DaRos

Scott DaRos – ’07

Profession: Animation Director

Major: Studio Art (Illustration and Animation)

Department: Art & Art History

Accomplishments: 2016 Primetime Emmy: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, 2018 Primetime Emmy: Outstanding Short Form Animated Program (Co-Animation Director), 2018 Primetime Emmy: Outstanding Short Form Animated Program (Co-Animation Director), Launching Threadwood LLC with Alexis Deprey and having a successful first year

About Scott: Scott is a stop-motion animation professional who has worked on various television and commercial projects in Los Angeles over the last 10 years as an animator, animation director, and director. His passion is creating unique and convincing characters and performances using frame-by-frame animation techniques like traditional stop-motion, clay animation, and 2D animation. Scott recently relocated to upstate New York with his wife and fellow UConn SFA Alum, Alexis Deprey, where the couple started their own stop-motion animation company called, Threadwood.

Thoughts on SFA: “The School of Fine Arts gave me the connections to start my career, and the confidence and artistic skills to excel.”

Learn more: www.threadwood.com; Twitter: @_threadwood; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Threadwood; Instagram: @threadwood

Alexis Deprey

Alexis Deprey – ’09

Profession: Production Designer & Art Director

Major: Studio Art (Illustration and Animation)

Minor: French & Psychology

Department: Art & Art History

Accomplishments: 2018 Primetime Emmy: Outstanding Short Form Animated Program (Art Director), 2016 Primetime Emmy: Outstanding Short Form Animated Program (Art Director), Launching Threadwood LLC with Scott DaRos and having a successful first year

About Alexis: Alexis is a freelance stop-motion professional who has worked as a fabricator, art director and production designer on many projects in television and commercials over the last 10 years. She also owns and runs a boutique stop-motion animation studio with her husband, Scott DaRos, in upstate New York called Threadwood. Her love for supporting artists and sharing knowledge led her to co-found and organize Animation Wild Card – a place for animation professionals to showcase their own work in short anthology episodes.

Thoughts on SFA: “The School of Fine Arts prepared me as a well rounded, multidisciplinary artist who could pick up and translate my materials and technical skills learned in school to my future job prospects as a stop-motion artist.”

Learn more: www.threadwood.com; Twitter: @_threadwood; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Threadwood; Instagram: @threadwood

Angelica Durrell

Angelica Durrell – ’11

Profession: Founder and Executive Director, INTEMPO

Major: Violin Performance

Department: Music

Accomplishments: Led first international tour of UConn’s Collegium Musicum Ensemble to Ecuador, Performed with Jesús Fichamba for Pope Francis’ first visit to Ecuador in 2015, Performed the national anthem at a UConn Women’s Basketball while studying at UConn

About Angelica: Angelica Durrell is an Ecuadorian-born violinist, educator and social entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Executive Director of INTEMPO, an intercultural organization that strives to make classical music and native instruments relevant, accessible and inclusive through innovative youth development and community engagement programs. She began her musical studies at the National Conservatory of Music in Quito at age six, continuing them in the Norwalk Public Schools under the direction of her father, David Durrell.
She has served on local and national art grants panels, including the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, the Rasmuson Foundation in Alaska, among others. She has had speaking engagements at the University of Michigan, Princeton University’s Keller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Harvard Business School Community Partners, Hartt School of Music, and at the University of Connecticut. Her recent TEDx talk has been acclaimed for creating institutional awareness and action towards cultural equity and representation.
Angie holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance from the University of Connecticut, which awarded her a full talent-based scholarship from the Louis and Sylvia Lazar Endowment for the Arts. Angie says that this scholarship enabled her to graduate debt-free and pursue a career in the arts. She resides in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Thoughts on SFA: “The School of Fine Arts taught met to appreciate myself as an artist and a musician and to continue carrying on my culture in the educational and community work that I do now. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) at UConn who helped me build confidence and a sense of belonging at UConn.”

Learn More intempo.org

Alexandra Eckhardt

Alexandra Eckhardt – ’11

Profession: Bassist & Music Supervisor for Film

Major: Music (Jazz Performance / Music Education)

Department: Music

Accomplishments: Music Supervisor for ‘Passing’ (Netflix film dir. by Rebecca Hall, starring Tessa Thompson); Acoustic & electric bassist for Tony Award-winning Best New Musical The Band’s Visit, as well as its Grammy-winning Best Original Broadway Soundtrack; Music Coordinator for “Spirited,” a new Christmas musical film for Apple starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, premiering on AppleTV+ in 2022.

About Kathryn: Music Supervisor and Bassist, Alexandra Eckhardt, has worked across the entertainment industry contributing her skills to feature films, award-winning Broadway shows, and live performances. Between playing with Sara Bareilles on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk web series with Tony & Grammy Award-winning Broadway show, The Band’s Visit, and being an in-demand session and Broadway musician, Alex has cultivated a multifaceted career as a professional bass player. Additionally, she has used her experiences as a musician to add music supervision for film to her arsenal, having worked on both independent and big budgeted films, including “Passing” (Netflix) starring Tessa Thompson and “Spirited” (AppleTV+) starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.

Thoughts on SFA: “The thing I learned from the School of Fine Arts that I use the most in my career is to be versatile, pro-active, and prepared for any opportunity.”

Learn More: www.alex-eckhardt.com, Instagram: @al_eckhardt, Facebook: Alex Eckhardt, Twitter: @aee_music, LinkedIn: Alexandra Eckhardt

Bernie Kukoff

Bernie Kukoff – ’54

*Graduated before SFA was founded* 

Profession: Writer & Producer

Major: Speech Drama (Theater Performance)

Department: Dramatic Arts

Accomplishments: Mystery Writer’s Of America Edgar Award (1976)-Writer; Drama Desk Award (1996)–Producer; Outer Critics Circle Award (2006)-Producer; Lucile Lortel Award (2008) -Producer

About Bernie: After graduating from UConn and The Yale School of Drama, Bernie  acted off-Broadway, with Second City and five seasons at the Williamstown Theater Festival. He later moved to LA where he created, produced and wrote various TV series, specials and films over a period of 28 years—among them: Diff’rent Strokes, The Cosby Show, and shows starring Steve Allen, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Jerry Stiller, Glen Campbell, Everly Brothers, Howard Cosell. Bernie’s credits also include the films Johnny Dangerously and Lt. Shuster’s Wife ( Edgar Award) and New York Theater productions I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Drama Desk); Over the River and Through the Woods; The Thing About Men (Outer Critics Circle);  All Shook Up and Dai (Lucile Lortel Award).

Thoughts on SFA: “The Thing I learned from SFA that I use the most in my career was to persist, to stay with it, ie…getting into Yale, (a model for my highly competitive business.) Of great help was the wisdom and encouragement of my SFA mentor, Dr. Cecil Hinkel.”

Hua-Hua-Zhang

Hua Hua Zhang – ’00

Profession: Artistic Director

Major: Dramatic Arts (Puppet Arts)

Department: Dramatic Arts

Accomplishments: Awards Hero In The Arts – Arts Champion Award from Young Audience in Learning (YANJ & PA) [2021]; Best Creativity Award Production of Butterfly Dreams, UNIMA Congress & World Puppet Festival (Chengdu, China)

About Hua Hua: Since 2002, Hua Hua Zhang has been the President and Artistic Director of her own production company, Visual Expressions, and her vision of puppetry is without boundary or limits. Drawing from her Asian cultural heritage and training in both Eastern and Western, she has written, directed, and performed over a dozen original contemporary puppet shows, collaborating with internationally renowned musicians and dancers to achieve unique creations ranging from fully staged theatrical productions to gallery style art installations. In addition to performing, Hua Hua carries out professional training and workshops in puppetry, dance, theater, and Chinese calligraphy for students ranging from elementary aged through adults.

Thoughts on SFA: “Studying at the UConn School of Fine Arts in the Puppet Arts Program opened up my vision for the creation of art. I received a very solid foundation for my future career. I was very fortunate to meet three special mentors who shared their rich experience in the practice of art — these mentors are Puppet Artist Bart Roccoberton, Theater Costume Designer Laura Crow, and Choreographer/Dancer Jean Sabatine. I learned so much from each them. Thank you, SFA faculty, for making me who I am.”

Learn More: www.visualexpressions.org