In Alumni, Department of Art

The research of new genre artist Tiana Birrell revolves around the intersection of materiality and immateriality, and the internet as a new type of consumerism

Tiana Birrell credits four major influences with her decision to become an artist: her artist grandmother, her optometrist father, a relentlessly encouraging mother and MassMoCA, which she attended often as a child growing up in rural Massachusetts just 30 minutes outside of Boston.

Tiana Birrell

“My surroundings were conducive to being a creative persona, both familial and place,” Birrell said. “There was just art everywhere.”

After experimenting with a variety of mediums as a BFA student at BYU, Birrell went on to earn an MFA in photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Her interest in photography was initially sparked by her father’s profession.

“Learning from my dad about the eye and perception and light led me to be interested in the camera and the photographic gaze,” Birrell said. “We talked often about the eye, the camera, how we see things and how we perceive the world.”

The Epiphany

Although her MFA focus was in photography, Birrell continued to explore other disciplines at SAIC, including performance and video. Despite living in Chicago, she felt her attention returning to the western landscapes she had become familiar with during her time at BYU.  Eventually, Birrell emerged from graduate school in 2017 with a specific set of research interests that continue to motivate her work today.

Read the full article written by Abby Weidmer at

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