Inspiring Graduate: Brianna Capra, M.F.A. Design

‘It is wonderful to share what I know with the next generation of artists.’
May 7, 2024

Inspiring Graduate: Brianna Capra (’24)

When Brianna Capra began her master’s degree, she had been out of academia for more than 20 years, having earned her B.F.A. in sculpture from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1999.

Her passion for making books and love of illustrating for children led her to UW-Stout's master’s in fine arts in design program, where she earned her graduate degree on May 4, along with 1,037 graduates.

Inspiring grad, Brianna Capra
Brianna Capra receives her master's hood commencement / UW-Stout

Capra will continue making books and has many ideas she’s been waiting to bring to life. She plans to start a center for book arts in the Chippewa Valley, modeled after the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and hopes to continue teaching drawing. 

“It is wonderful to share what I know with the next generation of artists, plus I learn just as much from them as they learn from me,” Capra said.

How well has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field and why?

I found the polytechnic emphasis at Stout to be equal parts challenging and inspiring. I learned so many skills that I had not expected to, digging into research, learning to use digital platforms and design tools, and writing scholarly content as well as creating a cohesive portfolio of artwork.

As an illustrator, learning to use digital media is extremely valuable. Though I continue to work primarily in traditional media, knowing how to use digital tools can help me stay current in my very competitive field.

Inspiring grad, Brianna Capra
Brianna Capra, center, celebrates at commencement / UW-Stout

Stout has also given me some teaching opportunities. These experiences were incredibly valuable as I intend to pursue future teaching positions.

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

The instructors I was fortunate to work with at Stout are excellent. Professors in the MFAiD program, as well as those whose classes I took as electives, are helpful, knowledgeable and professional. 

The Digital Process Lab, Printmaking Lab and Student Gallery 201 are also outstanding resources for students in the School of Art and Design. They provided me with an opportunity to create and display a prolific amount of artwork. 

Inspiring grad, Brianna Capra
Brianna Capra in the Printmaking Lab / UW-Stout

I am grateful to the faculty and staff in the School of Art and Design. They are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. They have treated me with dignity and patience, even though I ask a million questions and still don’t really know how to get on a Teams meeting.

How did your involvement on campus impact your experience?

I was the recipient of a Foundation Scholarship in 2022, a Certificate of Sustainable Design and a Student Research Grant in 2024. The research grant was a great benefit, as it helped pay for materials and printing costs associated with my creative thesis project, a 136-page graphic guide to plastic pollution, recycling and living plastic-free. 

I was also chosen as the Outstanding Graduate Student Researcher for 2024. This is quite an honor and a surprise considering how far behind I thought I was when I started the program after 20 years out of school.

Inspiring grad Brianna Capra at Research Day
Brianna Capra presents her publications at Research Day / UW-Stout

What challenges did you face in earning your degree and how did you overcome them?

I had been out of academia for more than 20 years. The MFAiD program is quite rigorous, and initially it felt daunting to read scholarly articles and relearn how to write in a scholarly way. 

Also, the world has changed dramatically since the 1990s. Doing everything on digital platforms presented me with a steep learning curve. There were many times I thought I was too out of touch to figure out how to work programs like Canvas and Teams, not to mention Photoshop and InDesign. My professors were understanding and helpful, and though I am not proficient with digital platforms, I have a degree of confidence I did not have before.

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What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?

I am quite pleased with the quality of work I was able to create while in the MFAiD program. Some of my pieces received awards in juried gallery shows. I got honorable mention for a print titled “Sweetgrass Woman” shown at Wisconsin Arts West in 2022, and best of show for a drawing titled “A Gift Freely Given” at the Otherworldly Arts Safe Word show in February of 2024. I have also self-published and sold several of the comic books I made in classes at Stout. 

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