VCU Students Named Javits Fellows

That installation  (untitled) -- Ian McMahon
That installation (untitled) -- Ian McMahon

Two graduate sculpture students in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts have been selected for the prestigious Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

Ian McMahon and Nataliya Slinko, who are both MFA candidates in the Department of Sculpture, became the fifth and sixth students from the sculpture program to be named Javits Fellows in the past six years. Javits Fellowships are awarded to graduate students of superior academic ability in the arts, humanities and social sciences. There are typically only five to seven Javits recipients each year in the studio arts, which includes sculpture. Javits awardees receive payment annually for tuition and fees and a generous stipend for four years.

Three current VCUarts students -- Angela White, John Henry Blatter and Sami Ben Larbi – are Javits Fellows. Amy Hauft, chair of the Sculpture at VCU, said McMahon and Slinko fit the profile of other recent selections for the fellowship from the university.

Paris in 1939 -- Nataliya Slinko
Paris in 1939 -- Nataliya Slinko

“Javits has selected some profoundly interesting artists from VCU,” Hauft said. “All of them with eccentric takes on the world.”

McMahon, originally of Ithaca, N.Y., builds works ambitious in both scale and theme. Often working with reinforced plaster, McMahon tailors pieces to the specific space of the locations in which he installs them. Hauft said McMahon’s sculptures are architectural and have a “physical feat to them.” McMahon has traveled extensively, especially in China, and exhibited widely in the United States with three former classmates from Alfred College, where he received his undergraduate degree. A sample of his portfolio can be found at

Slinko was born in the Ukraine and moved to the United States in 1996 at age 22. Hauft describes Slinko’s work as cerebral, typically consisting of independent objects that are meticulously made and result from intense observation. A former graphic designer in advertising, Slinko’s work has dealt with the oppressive nature of office work and with her youth in Ukraine, especially the contrast of physical freedom and political constraint she felt there. Slinko received her undergraduate degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. A sample of her portfolio can be found at

The newest work from McMahon and Slinko will be on view starting Friday in Viva Comet Unis, the VCU Sculpture MFA candidacy show at 1621 W. Main St. The show, which includes work from five other sculpture MFA students, will feature an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday. The show can be viewed by appointment following Friday. Call (804) 828-1511.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see