2024 Faculty

Fatih Benzer
Dr. Fatih Benzer is an associate professor and the coordinator of the art education program in the Department of Art and Design at Missouri State University. He earned a doctoral degree in art education from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts degree in painting from California State University. Benzer's areas of interest are studying visual cultures through semiotics, issues related to diversity and multicultural education, as well as the role of digital technologies in teaching art. His research has been published by National Art Education Association. He also published essays on contemporary art in RH+ Art Magazine in his native country, Turkey. Benzer has presented his research both in national and international venues such as Japan, South Korea, Portugal, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He is the past president of United States Society for Education through Art. He teaches all levels of undergraduate art education and studio courses, as well, graduate courses. His iconographic paintings are inspired by ancient mythologies from Greek, Ottoman and Persian miniatures, whirling dervishes in Sufi belief represented by Rumi’s ecstatic poetry of freedom and devotion, and abstracted geometry inspired by antique Greek, Egyptian and Byzantine architecture. The concepts such as stigma, stereotypes, and co-existence are the main themes in his current work. His artwork has been exhibited both in international and national exhibitions.

Benzer is currently serving as Director of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy.

Rick Briggenhorst
Rick Briggenhorst (he/him) is a Midwestern artist who explores how we process grief in the digital age and the complex relationships between ourselves and the technology we use daily. Using sculpture and physical computing to create participatory audio and visual installations, he creates interactive works for others who are mending their spirits. He is working against the idea that death is the end of life, that our loved ones exist in post-physical states of being, in our bits of data, and in placeless places. Briggenhorst has had several solo exhibitions including "a part from you" (2023, Springfield Art Museum) and "us + action" (2018, Rosette Studios). He is the recipient of numerous honorariums in new media, outdoor sculpture, graduate work and best of show. He received his MFA from Missouri State University in 2023 and his AFA from East Central College in 2014. Visit rickbriggenhorst.art and @briggenhorst to view more of his work.

Michael Butcher
Michael Butcher has a passion for working in the theatre. He is currently a professor of theatre at Evangel University. Butcher has been a theatre educator for 34 years with experience at the high school level, Missouri State University, Drury University, and Ozarks Technical Community College. He has directed over 100 theatrical productions. Butcher finds joy and inspiration through the theatre. Even more inspiring has been his time as an educator. He cannot imagine anything more rewarding than helping students find and develop their God-given talents. His students have won many State Thespian Conference awards and scholarships. Many of his students have qualified to compete at the International Thespian Festival and several of these students have placed in the top 10 in the world and have received international scholarships. In 2019 his production of "Into the Woods" was selected to represent the state of Missouri as the mainstage production at the Kansas City Musical Hall for the Missouri State Thespian Conference. In the summer of 2023, Butcher's theatre technology students took 3rd place in the world in the International Thespian Festival Tech Challenge. He has been an instructor for Drury’s pre-college programs for 29 years and has previously served as an instructor for the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. Many of his former students have gone on to have successful careers as professional actors, technicians, performers and teachers. Butcher is a member of the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri and the Educational Theatre Association.

Gemma Campanini
Gemma Campanini is dedicated to helping others discover, cultivate, and embrace their creative voice. She is passionate about bringing creative outlets to her community and demonstrates this commitment through a variety of projects. Campanini currently serves as the director of the monthly “Show Me Poetry” poetry slam, is the founder and manager of the “Oh Snap Poetry” open mic series, and leads the monthly “Free Voice” poetry workshop series. Currently teaching as an adjunct instructor of communication, she seeks to help others gain confidence in clearly expressing their ideas. Campanini holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication wherein she designed and conducted a research project investigating how learning to write and perform original poetry can be tools for personal healing and community-building. Outside of her professional endeavors, Campanini loves to spend time with family and friends, books and notebooks, tea, cooking and cats.

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Laine Cordell
Laine Monica Cordell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, California. In 2015, Cordell relocated to Springfield, Missouri, where she currently teaches at Missouri State University in the Theatre & Dance Department. Cordell hails from a small town in Southwest Missouri, and firmly feels her life mission is to create a safe space for young artists to develop personal growth and creative autonomy that evokes thought and provokes change.

Cordell is also a playwright, and is proudest of her work, "Internal Affairs." She wrote, produced, and directed the full-length play which debuted at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2010. Her other credits include musical theatre, TV, and film, in Los Angeles as well as the Midwest. Cordell feels as passionate about performing as she does directing and teaching. For her, theatre is the only place she ever felt truly herself. Cordell's ultimate goal is to run her own private studio, to provide an environment full of positive energy, and a little bit of magic. She is grateful for the opportunity to spread joy and theatre education whenever and wherever possible. Cordell resides happily in Springfield with her loving wife and their four sons.

Jason Hausback
Dr. Jason Hausback serves as Professor of Trombone at Missouri State University and is also the Interim Director of Jazz Studies. As a former Trombone and Jazz Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas, he was also a member of the internationally-acclaimed “One O’Clock Lab Band” and recorded “Lab 2009,” which was nominated for two Grammy awards. Hausback's students have placed in the finals and won numerous regional, national, and international competitions. They have also been successful in securing assistantships at some of the most prestigious music programs in the United States. Hausback is President of the Missouri Music Teachers Association and has been both faculty and a guest artist for the Missouri Fine Arts Academy since 2019. As an adjudicator, he is active in judging marching band, jazz, and solo/ensemble festivals throughout the region. Hausback routinely performs at conferences throughout the United States and is passionate about premiering new musical works. He was the winner of the Eastern Trombone Workshop National Classical Bass Trombone Solo Competition, as well as the ITA Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble Competition. His trombone quartet “Bell Street Four” also won the 2008 ITA Quartet competition. Hausback is active as a freelancer and performs regularly with The Lone Star Wind Orchestra (TX), Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (AR), The Springfield Symphony and Missouri Jazz Orchestra (MO), and Fountain City Brass Band (KS). He has had the opportunity to perform in S. America, Europe, and Asia and is a S.E. Shires Performing Artist.

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Kurt Gerard Heinlein
Coordinator of Acting at Missouri State University. Dr. Kurt Gerard Heinlein is a working member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, Fight Directors Canada (FDC), and USA (United Stuntmen). Heinlein has worked extensively since completing his MFA in Acting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), with union performance credits that include Broadway, Broadway National Tours, national concert tours, regional theatre, daytime drama, film, commercial print, and over 30 national SAG-AFTRA television spots. His combat work and stunt coordination are seen in feature films, daytime drama, national commercials, and in theatre circuits throughout the nation. Heinlein received his Ph.D. (Green Theatre) from Louisiana State University. A lifelong environmental activist, he has earned several publications and awards for his work in social/green Theatre. Heinlein has twice been appointed the Missouri State University Provost Fellow for Public Affairs, and recently received the Missouri State University Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. He is also a certified mountain guide and rock climbing instructor.

Jacob Hiser
Jacob Hiser is a versatile pianist who studies many musical traditions. He has performed at venues and festivals across the United States, as well as France, Hungary, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. Originally from Missouri, where he graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s in jazz studies, he moved to Boston to complete a master’s in contemporary improvisation at New England Conservatory. He now splits his time between Boston and New York City, teaching and performing. His past teachers include Ran Blake, Joe Morris, Bruce Brubaker, and Jason Moran. Hiser was piano faculty at University of Massachusetts Lowell 2016-2023, and is currently an accompanist for Boston Children's Chorus and faculty/accompanist at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire.

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Colby Jennings
Colby Jennings is an artist and educator working in the realms of new media and digital art, currently based in Springfield, Missouri. With a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) specializing in digital media from Washington State University, Jennings has dedicated their career to the exploration and teaching of the fusion between technology and visual culture. They are currently an associate professor at Missouri State University, where they collaborate in the Electronic Arts program and coordinate the New Media BFA program. With 15 years of experience in education, Jennings has shared their work nationally and internationally, including festivals and exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, S. Korea, Mexico City, the UK, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, and Egypt among others. Their studio practice is centered on the belief in art as a catalyst for change, creating interactive installations and digital experiences that challenge and reflect upon pressing issues. Jennings is eager to engage with the next generation of artists, encouraging them to push boundaries and explore the transformative power of art.

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Perry Mears
Noted for his ability to play “with clarity and ease” (New York Concert Reviews), Dr. Perry Mears performs regularly across the country as a vocal accompanist, piano soloist and chamber musician. Recent performances have included a program of music by living American women at Carnegie Hall, numerous college and university appearances, and collaborations with the Iowa Composers Forum, Luna Nova Music, Vocal Ensemble QC, and members of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. He has a particular passion for the music of living composers and has premiered works Susan LaBarr, Robert Patterson, Juliana Hall, Dan Lazarescou, Jonah Elrod, and Lisa Neher. In addition to being in demand as a teacher, clinician, and adjudicator, Mears lives in Springfield, Missouri, where he is an assistant professor of collaborative piano at Missouri State University.

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Shaylin Montgomery
Shaylin Montgomery is an English teacher at Clearwater High School in Piedmont, Missouri. She also coaches the speech team, sponsors the Drama Club, and leads the Creative Writing Club—which she founded after students asked her why such a club did not exist. Montgomery has a bachelor’s degree in English Education, and a ,aster’s degree in Professional Writing, from Southeast Missouri State University, and she is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2025. Montgomery has been teaching for ten years, but she has been writing for much longer. She wrote her very first short story, about a time traveler, when she was only ten years old. Granted, her parents are the only people who’ve ever seen this story. But it sparked in her a love of writing that continues to this day. In college, Montgomery wrote poems and short stories that were published in literary magazines such as Journey and The Mighty River Rose Anthology, and she interned at the Southeast Missouri State University Press, where she learned about publishing firsthand as she helped the publishers design book covers, select contest winners, and choose which submissions to publish—among other things. Fortunately for her students, Montgomery loves writing and teaching in equal measure, and she has no plans to leave the classroom anytime soon.

Tanner Munson
Tanner Munson is an actor, musician, music director, and voice teacher based in Springfield, Missouri. He recently graduated with his Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy from Missouri State University and holds a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from Missouri Southern State University. Munson has performed on both domestic and international stages alike, as well as competing nationally in the National Student Auditions in the music theatre and contemporary categories. He studied voice under the guidance of Dr. Chris Thompson and worked as graduate teaching assistant for Missouri State. Munson can be seen frequently as a featured soloist in the Missouri State University Chorale, Queen City Chorale, and in various productions around the Springfield area. His most recent roles include, Theodore Lawrence in "Little Women: The Musical," Jamie Wellerstein in "The Last Five Years," and Davey Jacobs in "Newsies: The Musical."

Heather Nelson
Dr. Heather Nelson, mezzo soprano, loves all the things that have to do with the singing voice and telling other voice teachers about all the neat things she learns. Based in Springfield, Missouri, she works with voice teachers from all over the world to understand the voice better, and use that knowledge to make a positive difference in their studios. She enjoys cooking (and eating) good food, British TV, and spending time with Sis the cat. Learn more about Nelson at www.drheathernelson.com and www.instagram.com/drheathernelson.

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Annette Oliphant
"My name is Antoinette (Annette for short) Oliphant and I am ecstatic to be a part of Missouri Fine Arts Academy! The arts are imperative for high school students to be successful, and I believe Missouri Arts Academy is a great catalyst for this learning. Having worked with students professionally for the past two summers, I have been able to solidify that I am meant to be an artistic mentor. I run my classroom on the values of kindness and empathy. What I have experienced working in schools is if you are kind and give students grace, your classroom will run more smoothly. I want to make sure students have a safe space in my class. Theatre has been a place for people to have an escape and I want to make sure my students know this. I will do this by getting to know my students. Showing them I want to know them will help build trust to create a safe space. My aspiration as a teacher is to make sure students can reach all of their goals. Whether that is a grand achievement like performing in a show or just feeling comfortable public speaking. Not only will I produce stellar students, but I will also help create empathetic citizens. Students will not only reach their potential in my classroom, but students will walk out of my classroom feeling like they are a better person"

Meganne Rosen
Meganne Rosen is a painter and arts educator from Springfield, Missouri. She has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in painting from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, an additional master's degree in studio art and theory, and an undergraduate degree in art history. In addition to teaching full time, Rosen has an active studio practice. Locally, she is represented by OH Gallery at Obelisk Home, and creates a new body of work for a solo exhibition with them every other year or so. She has exhibited work nationally and internationally, been published in numerous art and literary publications, and enjoys partaking in the occasional artist residency when time allows. Her work explores entropy, artifice, consumerism, and her place in the lineage of abstraction in contemporary and modern painting and its relationship with installation art. Rosen teaches Art History I & II, Drawing I & II, and Portfolio Development in the Department of Fine Arts, Design, and Humanities at Ozarks Technical Community College. She has previously taught at Missouri State University, Drury University, CCA, and the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. Rosen has over ten years of collegiate teaching experience and is always excited for opportunities to work with gifted high school artists.

Erin Tyler
Erin Tyler holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Missouri State University and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies at Missouri State University. In 2012, she attended Missouri Fine Arts Academy as a student and returned as an instructor in 2019, 2022 and 2023. Tyler began her self-led art practice with detail-focused drawings in pencil and charcoal. Her current art practice involves painting, installation, and collage and often relies on found objects, systematic art-making processes, experimentation, and chance. She has recently shown in numerous galleries locally, as well as in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Miami. Tyler previously worked as a teaching artist at The Springfield Art Museum and has recently had the opportunity to act as a creative collaborator at Villa Lena Artist Residency in Tuscany and The Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis.

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Rachel Wood
Rachel Wood is a Missouri State University (MSU) alumna, graduating from MSU in 2015 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Drawing and a Bachelors of Science in Art Education. She has taught art for nine years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and has also been privileged to teach as an adjunct professor at Evangel University. In addition to her experience teaching and her education at MSU, Wood's passion for art and lifelong learning has provided her opportunities to instruct other teachers and artists at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) conferences and at other local entities, such as the Springfield Art Museum. In her own classroom, Wood works with a wide variety of students from all different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds with many unique needs. It is her joy each day to teach these students art through problem-solving, critical thinking, and high levels of engagement. Wood loves inspiring students to be creative and helping them grow into unique individuals.