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.



Cindy Bernhard is a faculty member and directs the Visiting Art Program at the American Academy of Art. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the American Academy of Art and her Master of Fine Arts from Laguna College of Art and Design. She served as an instructor at numerous institutions including the City Colleges of Chicago, the Evanston Art Center, Gallery 37: After School Matters, and Laguna College of Art and Design.

She worked as Gallery Director for Jennifer Norback Fine Art and as a Gallery Manager for Linda Warren Projects. Her work was shown nationally and internationally and she received numerous awards and accolades. In addition to exhibiting her work, she has curated numerous exhibitions in Chicago. 

Cindy also co-founded JNFA Studies, an interactive series of seminars, artist talks, and museum/studio visits.  This project was created to encourage dialog and passion for art historical scholarship and appreciation for the arts.



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 has been an editorial and commercial photographer in Chicago since 1980. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Xavier University and a Master of Science in Photography from the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology. Robert taught at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology and Benedictine University, and served as Lead Artist at Gallery 37 Center for the Arts.  He is a member of the Arts Club of Chicago.

His photographs and photographic essays were published in numerous magazines and newspapers. He contributed to annual reports and major media advertising for a wide variety of clients.

He was awarded the Prix du Ministre de la Culture Francais in 1985 for his exhibition, Chicago Portraits, at Galerie Daguerre, Paris. He has twice been a recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, 1995 and 2000.

 Robert’s photo-documentary, City of Boxers, was exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center in 1999. This work was profiled on Chicago Public Television and selected photographs published in the Chicago Tribune Magazine.

 His photo-documentary, Wounded in America, 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.



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.



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.



Peter Scott is a graphic designer who joined the faculty at the American Academy of Art in 1998.  He teaches Digital Graphic Foundations, Packaging Design, Art Direction, and Illustration Portfolio and is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Peter holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design from the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a major in French and a minor in math from Purdue University, and the Diplome Superieur d’Etudes Francaises from the Universite des Sciences Humaines in Strasburg, France.
He has worked with a number of clients as a freelance designer including Sayo/Fisher USA Corporation, The American Broadcasting Company, Marantec  America, Pacific Coast Soundworks, Shepard/Poorman, Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design, and the American Academy of Art. 



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 fine artist who is nationally and internationally exhibited.  She specializes in watercolor, 2D and 3D mixed media, her current work is in video and assemblage. She teaches Fundamentals of Art at the American Academy of Art.

Michele holds an Associates of Art in Commercial and Fine Art from the American Academy of Art, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chicago State University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College. 

 Michele began her teaching career in 1990 and taught art at many notable institutions including: the Juvenile Welfare Association, the La Grange Art League, and the American Academy of Art. She has exhibited her work widely in the United States and abroad.  Her work was included in group exhibitions in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as throughout Illinois and the Chicago-land area, and in international exhibitions in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Scotland.  She was also featured in many publications both nationally and internationally. She is a 27-year local member and volunteer at ARC. Her volunteer experience focused on community outreach through over 27 years of active membership in the Artist Residence of Chicago and Educational Foundation (ARC).

Michele has had many solo exhibitions in Arizona and the Chicago land area as well as national and international group exhibitions.   She has been in many publications and catalogs as well.



Tony Thomas has been a faculty member at the American Academy of Art since 1993.  He is Co-Chair of the Humanities and Sciences Department and is the co-curricular Activities Coordinator. He teaches Oral Communication, Film and Society, World Cultures, and College Success Seminar.  Tony holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from New Mexico State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Ohio University School of Theatre.

He previously taught at the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University in Chicago; Western Illinois University in Macomb; California State College in Turlock; and Ohio University in Athens.

He wrote several plays which were performed throughout the country.  He also directed over fifty professional stage productions in addition to college theatre presentations. He was one of the founders of Live Theatre in Evanston, Illinois where he was the Artistic Director.



Brandie Windham is the mathematics faculty and joined the Academy in 2016. She teaches the Quantitative Learning course.

 Brandie holds a Master of Arts in Mathematics Education from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 Brandie is currently working as a mathematics faculty at Morton College and as an adjunct at Concordia University Chicago.  Previously, she worked as a mechanical engineer and business manager and shares her real-world experience with students in the classroom.

 A native of Chicago’s western suburbs, you can find Brandie enjoying the many treasures of Chicago with her family.



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.



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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