American Academy of Art Faculty



Faculty Biographies


Lynn J. Armstrong began teaching at the American Academy of Art in 1992, serving as faculty for many classes including Life Drawing, Anatomy, Advanced Anatomy, Oil Painting, Science of Perception, and currently; Beginning Illustration, Drawing for the Illustrator and Storyboarding.
She is a graduate of the American Academy of Art with an Associate’s in Illustration, DePaul University with a Bachelor of Arts in studio art with an art history concentration. She is currently attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for a Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting. Additionally, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Florence Academy of Art in Italy.
Lynn has many works in public and private collections. She also has a line of fine art jewelry made from recycled materials in the Art Institute Modern Wing Shop.



Mat Barber Kennedy R.I. is a fine artist and watercolorist who is nationally and internationally exhibited. He teaches watercolor at the American Academy of Art. Mat is primarily a plein air painter and spends much of the summer painting and teaching in invitational events across the States.  He is a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolor, The Royal Society of Arts, The American Impressionist Society and the Illinois Watercolor Society.

Mat studied architecture at Sheffield University and continued his training with a Masters degree at the Royal College of Art.

He is represented by several galleries in the United Kingdom and the US.  In the United States, he is represented for publishing by Grand Image in Seattle.



Jennifer Botich serves as the Co-Chair of the Humanities and Sciences department and teaches the Academy’s composition courses. She holds a Master of Arts from DePaul University in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication from Illinois State University. Prior to her work as an educator, Jennifer was an account manager at an advertising firm, an academic advisor, and the associate director of admissions at a design college. In 2002, she was presented with an opportunity to teach, and she discovered her passion. Jennifer has over sixteen years of experience preparing art students with writing, critical thinking, and communication skills. She finds great joy in teaching Academy students the art of academic, creative, and professional writing.



Chris Cosnowski is an artist and educator living and working in Chicago.  He has taught at the American Academy of Art since 2003. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1992 and his Master of Fine Arts from Northwestern University in 2000. He has exhibited his artwork extensively throughout the United States as well as London. In 2013, he had a 10-year retrospective at the South Shore Arts Association in Munster, IN.  His work has been reviewed in numerous publications including The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, The New Art Examiner and the New York Observer. He was also featured on the cover of New American Paintings in 2001 and 2014. He has lectured about his work at several institutions across the United States including Bennington College VT, Eastern Illinois University, McHenry County College IL and Northern Illinois University.He received a finalist award from the Illinois Arts Council in 2001. He was recently awarded a commission to design artwork for the Blue Line Montrose Station by the Chicago Transit Authority.

Chris has had several solo exhibitions across the United States, including "SUPER-ficial" a ten year retrospective at the South Shore Arts Association in Munster, Indiana. Other solo exhibitions include: "I Love Humanity This Much" and "Enlightened?" at Linda Warren Projects in Chicago and "American Metal" and "Fresh" at Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC. He was also included in many group exhibitions including "Toy Box" at the Illinois State Art Museum in Lockport and "Chicago Paints!" at Ohio University in Athens, OH,



Robert Drea is Chair of the Photography and Digital Media Department at the American Academy of Art College in Chicago. His photo-documentary, Wounded in America, a project covering over ten years, was exhibited at the University of Chicago in 2004, the National Civil Rights Museum in 2006, California State University, Los Angeles in 2008, and Grace Cathedral, San Francisco in 2009.

His photo-documentary, City of Boxers, was exhibited in 1999 at the Chicago Cultural Center, was the subject of a public television profile, and was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship.

Since 2014 he has created and photographed landscape interventions in Richland County, Wisconsin on a farm   five generations in his family. Mr. Drea holds a B.A. from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and a M.S. from the Institute of Design, Chicago. He was awarded the Prix du Ministre de la Culture Français in 1985 for his exhibition in Paris, Chicago Portraits.



Misha Goro joined the American Academy of Art in 2002. He holds the position of chair of Graphic Design Department.  He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in architecture. He came to America in 1993 where he received his Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Misha has won over a dozen prestigious national and international awards and prizes.  His work is part of numerous private and public collections that include museums, libraries, and public institutions worldwide.



Richard Kryczka is a nationally exhibited Illustrator, designer and award winning painter. He joined the faculty at American Academy of Art in 1987, and has served as the chairperson of the Illustration Department since 1990. He teaches all levels of illustration including editorial, advertising, concept art and art direction.

He is a graduate of the American Academy earning his Associate’s degree in both Illustration and Graphic Design in 1980. He also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Drawing and Painting from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

Richard worked for Student Center Graphics as an illustrator, designer and event promoter for Southern Illinois University for 5 years where he received several COARA and NACA awards for his promotional work.

His commercial work includes clients; Davis, Harrison Dion, The Breakfast Exchange Club, and KHM Plastics among others.

The Anne Loukes Gallery in Glencoe and The Dovetail Gallery, in Door County, Wisconsin, has previously represented his watercolor work. He is a signature member of both the (IWS) Illinois watercolor Society and the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society (MPSGS) of Washington, DC. He is also a member of the Polish Arts Club of Chicago, and is included in the annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibits at the Polish Museum of America for the last 14 years. He had several one man shows including The Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan and the Tavern Club in Chicago. His fine art work has also been in many National exhibits including American Landscapes in Maryland and Illustrators Who Teach at the Society of Illustrators in New York.



Nadia McDonald  holds a Ph.D. Art History from Florida State University and a M.A. Medieval Studies from the University of Connecticut. Her published work includes “Medieval Art and Neuroscience: An Introduction” in Cognitive Sciences and Medieval Studies: An Introduction, eds. Juliana Dresvina and Victoria Blud (University of Wales Press, Nov. 2020) and “Medieval Court and Aristocracy” in Medieval Culture: A Compendium of Critical Topics: Fundamental Aspects and Conditions of the European Middle Ages, ed. Albrecht Classen (De Gruyter, 2015). Dr. McDonald has previously taught at Florida State University, Department of Art History and Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.



Anahita Mobarhan is a Web designer/developer and animator and works as a web designer for a variety of national and international clients. She teaches Web Design I & II as well as Interactive Design & Multimedia classes at the American Academy of Art.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in painting from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and a Master of Arts in animation from the UCLA School of Film and Television. She has a Certificate degree in Web Programming from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

She has published articles for Museo Teo art fanzine, a traveling museum based in Milan and art reviews for Time Out Rome. She also works as a freelance web designer for a variety of clients and small businesses.

Anahita was awarded a grant in 2005 by the Ospedale Pediatrico Babin’ Gesu in Rome to work with a team of neurologists and speech therapists to create a series of remedial games using interactive 3-D and 2-D animation for use in therapy sessions with patients affected by visual agnosia.  The games have been presented at several conferences in Italy.  Her artwork was also exhibited in galleries in Rome, Milan, Turin, Bologna and Como, Italy.



Kristin Mount is a medical illustrator who joined the faculty of the American Academy of Art in 2005. She teaches Anatomy, Advanced Anatomy, and Digital Illustration.

Kristin holds a Master of Associated Medical Sciences degree from the Biomedical Visualization program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She ran her own full time freelance illustration studio from 1993 through 2005 and still maintains some clients today. She illustrated over 100 medical text books and created a wide variety of medical and surgical illustrations for doctors, law firms, and pharmaceutical companies. Kristin was among the first in the field to create 3D anatomical models, and her 3D model of the human eye was accepted into SIGGRAPH'S first annual stereo slide set series. She also received a Silver Addy Award for her illustrations in an Indiana Firebirds advertising campaign in 2003.

Kristin started her blog, Human Anatomy for the Artist, in 2011, and today it has over 17,000 followers. She published her first book, The Figure Artist's book of Anatomical Landmarks, in 2012.

Kristin has taught several workshops in digital illustration at national meetings of the Association of Medical Illustrators. She also taught Illustration Applications, Computer Visualization and Advanced Illustration Techniques in UIC's Biomedical Visualization program. She is currently a research advisor in this program, guiding graduate students, some who began at the American Academy of Art, through their masters level medical visualization research projects.



Jessica Mueller is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator. Currently, Jessica is a faculty member in the Graphic Design Department at the American Academy of Art. Jessica has been partnering with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and Chicago Public Schools since 2004. Formerly a Program Manager at CAPE, she developed and supported partnerships for over forty artists, art teachers, and academic teachers, while working with principles and district officials. She holds a BFA from the American Academy of Art and received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She exhibits locally and nationally, and her work is included in the permanent collections at The School of the Art Institute’s Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts, and the Library of Congress. Mueller is a member of the Chicago ACT Collective and a founding member of Mother Art: Revisited.



Bobby Joe Scribner is a sculptor with a studio in Woodstock Illinois. His work ranges from figurative to abstract in a wide variety of media. Bobby Joe has taught at the American Academy of Art since 1994 where he teaches Figurative sculpture.

He received a Master of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona in Tucson. After finishing his degree program Bobby Joe established his studio in Woodstock where he has created many works exhibited in states throughout the country and held in both private and public collections.

He also teaches private lessons in metal work and design in the summer at his studio in Woodstock.



Marc Soehl is a full time instructor in the 3D Modeling/Animation curriculum and joined the Academy in 2008.  Marc teaches all aspects of 3D art/animation which includes modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, visual effects, as well as game development aspects such as scripting and game engine implementation, but specializes in character animation and character rigging.

He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts and Animation from the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Effects and Animation from the Academy of Art University San Francisco.

His professional experience includes working as a 3D artist at High Voltage Software where he worked on Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.  Marc also worked as a 3D artist/animator for an online team studio, DLA, that produced digital download content for Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights that was sold on their online store.  He also worked for Adler Planetarium where he was a senior 3D artist/animator in which he  worked on a number of shows for NASA and one show for Sesame Workshop that were released in house in the planetarium’s full dome theater.  Marc also works as a freelance 3D artist/animator for clients as well as for game development.

Marc was featured in a monthly NASA promotional publication introducing team members of the IBEX mission to map the interstellar boundary.



Michele Stutts is a Chicago-based contemporary artist. Originally born in  Liverpool, UK, Stutts has spent the last 30 years, utilizing painting, drawings,  collage, assemblage, installations, and video as her media of choice. Her unique  bodies of work are often related to socio-political ethics, mental health, beauty and  sexuality.  
Michele received her Associates of Art from American Academy of Art College, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chicago State University, and Master of Fine Arts from Collumbia College Chicago.
Since 1990, Stutts has taught at the American Academy of Art College and been a  member of ARC Gallery & Educational Foundation. Currently, she continues to  showcase her work nationally and internationally.  



David Joel Thomas' interest and training in philosophy, art, architecture and design reflect his commitment to bridging the gap between critical research and creative synthesis.  His international experience- Lahore, Pakistan (1966-68), Ankara, Turkey (1968-72), and Kabul, Afghanistan (1972-77) draw him to the crossroads of politics, archeology, post-war reconstruction, autonomous modernization, global aesthetics, and the multiplicity and diversity of cultures. Mr. Thomas has an active, multi-disciplinary practice in which he works as a visual artist with special focus on digital media, a critical and creative writer, and a designer at the object and architectural scales.  David holds a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Master of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from DePaul University.  He has previously taught at the School of the Art Institute and Columbia College.



Solly Thomas holds a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Solly is an instructional trainer, teacher and author who has taught at East West University, University of Colorado and Davenport University.



James Wisdom is a nationally exhibited fine artist and illustrator and currently teaches Fundamentals of Art at the American Academy of Art. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a specialization in oil painting from the American Academy of Art and his Master of Fine Arts degree in studio arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

James’ work has been exhibited most recently at various locations including the Krannert Art Museum, Figure One Gallery, and Sky Gallery (local billboard) in Champaign, IL. Locally, his work has been exhibited at the Bill Parks Gallery, Both Sides Gallery, and Ugly Step Sister Gallery all in Chicago, IL, to name a few. He has also worked collaboratively on projects for several corporate clients including Google, GrubHub, and Abbott Laboratories. James’ work was published most recently in the UIUC student-run publication Ninth Letter as well as Studio Visit Magazine, and was also a recipient of the 2015 Teachers Ranked as Excellent award while in attendance at the University of Illinois.



Michelle F. Wright, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. from DePaul University in 2012. She has been teaching face-to-face courses for 13 years; she has 11 years of online teaching experience as well. She enjoys teaching courses in Introduction to Psychology, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Psychology of Media. 



Don Yang is a Fine Artist and Illustrator and has been teaching oil painting, life drawing, and artistic anatomy at the American Academy of Art since 2002, where he is currently serving as chairperson of Fine Art Department and Foundations department.

In addition to his previous medical training in the U.S. Army, Don earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors and later a Master of Fine Arts with emphasis on fine art and traditional illustration from the American Academy of Art.

He is also a guest instructor for Urban Sketchers Chicago and Plein Air Painters Chicago. His work is included in collections throughout the United States and Europe.


View the faculty gallery here.



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