University of Utah College of Fine Arts alumni are working as successful professionals and change agents in their fields both in and out of the arts.

We partnered with the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) for our second time in 2017 to collect new data on the careers and successes of our former students, and have noted some interesting trends from our alumni that bode well for our students and their futures.

First of all, 79 percent of our alumni are satisfied in their current occupation in which they spend most of their time (in and out of the arts), and 74 and 81 percent of undergraduate and graduate alumni (respectively) deemed their education to be relevant to their work.

The number of alumni who are or have worked in the arts is remarkable as well.

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Other alumni have found success in these sectors as well by transferring their knowledge to new industries including: communications, financial & business, engineering & science, legal, healthcare, and social services.

University of Utah College of Fine Arts alumni are a force to be reckoned with in the world, bringing their broad knowledge and education, their skills in critical thinking and problem solving, ability to improve work based on constructive feedback, research, project management, artistic technique, interpersonal relations and collaborating, and leadership.

For ongoing stories about our alumni or to let us know what successes you’re having as an alum, visit





Christine Walker has spent a life full of purposeful engagement. An alumna of the Department of Film & Media Arts with both a BA (’82) and an MFA (’86), she is the only American jury member ever to serve at the Minsk International Film Festival in Belarus, and has positioned herself as a women’s role model within the film industry — all in a relatively short period of time.

As a student at the University of Utah, there were three people who influenced her trajectory most: Department Chair Kevin Hanson, Adjunct Professor Emeritus Dr. Thomas Sobchack, and Professor Emeritus Bill Siska. They not only taught her the skillsets needed to be successful within the film industry, but also offered her incredible support, leadership, and generosity.

Walker, who now has a rich history of screenwriting and producing films, working with some of the top actors, actresses, and cinematographers from the industry, splits her time between Los Angeles, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, spending the last five years as the Provincetown Film Festival CEO. This position began as interim, but she soon found the festivals’ board offering her the job — one she happily accepted.

Creativity as a producer is not her only asset. She also credits her grit and determination, two traits one needs — especially as a woman — to make it in the modern workforce.

She’s seen and experienced for herself how hard it is for women to carve out a place in the industry and says, “it adds a new level of pressure, being a woman,” because, as she describes, it leads to women often ignoring instances of discrimination in order to succeed. 

Walker realized in order for her to face the issues of discrimination, she would have to take a job like the one she has to do something to fix it..

Women’s under-representation in film was one of the reasons she took the position with the Provincetown Film Festival. Walker realized in order for her to address issues of discrimination, she would have to take a job like the one she has to do something to fix it. She sees the mistreatment of women as “a threat to our cultural narrative and a threat to storytelling. We must have equal representation of story tellers.”

She has helped facilitate the first U.S. media summit on gender within film called The Provincetown Women’s Media Summit, which is now in its second year. She also instituted the inclusion of LGBTQ filmmakers in such events as Women’s Week in Provincetown, and will soon be launching a youth mentorship program for LGBTQ youth students to attend the film festival and get paired with a mentor in the industry.

Years after her time at the U, and with the #MeToo movement sweeping the world, Walker feels like things are changing, but there is still work to be done — especially at leadership levels.

“We need to elevate women of color, because when we do that, we elevate all people. Change will not happen unless there is change in the boardroom.”

She offers two bits of advice to current students: learn how to tell a good story and continue to push the industry’s engagement of women.

“Everyone needs to work with women, because when we have equality in storytelling, the work will be richer and more enhanced.” 




When you hear Addison Marlor’s booming laugh you know he’s an opera singer — it’s rich and colorful and fills the room, much like his personality.

The tenor has spent the last two years training his voice at the University of Utah and getting his masters in Vocal Performance. He completed his undergrad at Utah Valley University, studying under successful opera singer and U alumnus, Tyler Nelson, who now teaches at Vanderbilt University, one of the top opera schools in the country.

Nelson recommended that Marlor complete his MM at the U with Voice Director of Opera, Robert Breault. And to complete the “vocal grandfather” lineage as Marlor put it, Breault taught Nelson while he was getting his BA and MM at the U.

As a grad student, Marlor was cast in three major roles at the U, and was hired to perform outside the university as well, including Utah Symphony’s production of “Candide.” He was also cast in Washington Concert Opera’s “Sapho,” alongside of the famous opera singer, Kate Lindsey.

Marlor was accepted into the Merola Summer Opera Program in San Francisco, one of the best summer training programs in the country, and was invited back to attend for a second year. His role in the U’s production of “A Christmas Carol” was specifically written for him. And when the U hosted the National Association of Teachers of Singing for Western Regionals, Marlor competed in Musical Theatre and Men Classical singing categories and won first place in both.

But when asked what was one of his biggest accomplishment during his time at the U, he said that this was his first time getting a perfect 4.0 grade. According to Marlor, success isn’t necessarily the awards you receive or the productions you’re in, “success is whatever you want it to be.”

“Success doesn’t just mean being a star,” he said. “You don’t have to be the top 10 in the world to have ‘made it’. There are full-time singers that aren’t singing in the big houses and are still paying their bills by doing what they love.”

Opera singers aren’t just born with flawless voices; they have to undergo extensive training, and not just singing. They have to learn new languages, perfect dialects, memorize music, be able to act, and know how to work well with others. These are all qualities Marlor has worked hard to achieve.

However, he credits much of his success to “networking and luck.” But it’s this humble perspective that is perhaps one of his greatest strengths as an opera singer. He’s not the stereotypical aloof singer, said Breault.

“His reputation as being a really great guy is the most important factor that goes into a singer’s

success,” he said. “The minute you shake his hand you can tell he’s a great guy, the minute he starts talking you can tell he’s smart guy, the minute he sings, you know you’ve the got the full package.”

Right after Marlor graduated, he was hired as the tenor resident artist for Utah Opera, which only accepts one tenor vocalist and holds national auditions. Marlor is the first vocal performance graduate to go straight from the U to the Utah Opera. His first performance was in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” this past January. 




When Karen Southam started at the University of Utah, she thought she’d become an architect. This was one of her many interests while making sense of her career path that included interior design, scuba diving, and work for United Cerebral Palsy.

Southam switched from architect to artist after a grad student recommended taking classes from Beth Krensky, Area Head of Art Teaching.

“I was really lucky,” said Southam. “If I hadn’t stumbled upon the right people at the U, I would’ve been a very unhappy architect.”

Last summer, Southam completed an art teaching degree with a minor in sculpture intermedia. The importance of teaching was ingrained in Southam since her mother was an educator. But when Southam realized she could be a practicing artist and teach in the community — not necessarily a school system, she knew she wanted to pursue an art teaching degree.

The U’s art teaching program emphasizes being an art maker as well as an educator. In Southam’s opinion, the U is one of the few schools that still focuses on craft and not just concept, which was appealing.

She attended the U on and off for the past eight years, and took advantage of every opportunity. She was an art teaching assistant, got on the Utah Art Divisions & Museums’ Teaching Artist Roster and immersed herself various art community projects.

Her efforts were recognized by the Utah Art Education Association (UAEA) when she won the 2018 Preservice Student of the Year Award, becoming the first U student to receive the honor. 

Her desire to work with these diverse groups...align with her personal artwork, which often represents conflict that is contrasted with a sense of hope or beauty.

Southam credits her UAEA award to her flexibility and proactive approach, but what makes Southam unique is her drive to seek out underprivileged communities.

“There’s something to say about her compassion,” said Southam’s professor, Sandy Brunvand. “She is just exceptional at creating a safe space for everyone.”

Southam’s first community art teaching experience was with resettled children as part of the university’s after school art program. Many of them didn’t speak English and would draw images of death as they processed traumatic events. By doing this, they shared their art and found comfort in other kids who had similar experiences.

“When you’re teaching groups that have experienced something very traumatic, you need to be gentle and focus on them using their art as a second language,” said Southam.

Through the Artist Teaching Roster, Southam also sought the opportunity to work with women and men in correctional facilities. Her desire to work with these diverse groups, and the projects she assigns, align with her personal artwork which often represents conflict that is contrasted with a sense of hope or beauty.

“I try to capture the essence of what has helped me transcend into this other individual that is less conflicted,” said Southam, much like the way she teaches her students to release their own struggles through artistic expression.

Southam is currently working at the Kimball Arts Center in Park City, where she’ll be able to teach at public schools as well as focus on her art making. She will also be teaching 2D and 3D to kids 14-17 in a two-week summer camp as a part of the U in Youth Education program.

“I’m excited to give back to the institution that has given me so much,” she said.