Alumni Profiles

MATTHEW KUNNARI

FLORAL LANDSCAPE DESIGNER, VISUAL ARTIST

“I remember discovering in my art classes at Dordt that I was deeply interested in color,” says Matthew Kunnari (’06). “I’d be driving down the road, and I’d be struck by certain things: the yellow paint on the center line, the red stop sign, a blue sky. I’d feel compelled to return to that image in the studio.”

Now his medium is flowers.

Kunnari lives on the grounds of the historic Pillsbury Mansion, next to Lake Minnetonka, where aside from tending plants and designing landscapes, he spends time painting in his bright artist’s studio in the estate’s carriage house.

The room is filled with brightly colored still-life paintings, arranged on easels or up against the wall. “I like to paint the things that have been left behind. A table after everyone has eaten, or a sink and counter filled with dishes,” he says. The paintings are unconventional, but beautiful.

“As an artist, and also as a gardener, you learn patience,” he says. “You’re in it for the long game.”

Rachel Clemens

GRAPHIC ARTIST AND WEBSITE DESIGNER

Rachel Clemens (’09) has gotten used to sitting down with executives from global corporations like Microsoft and Pepsi. She’s a practice manager at SAP, a multinational company that creates software that businesses use to optimize their hiring processes.

Clemens works on the "front end" of the software platform. Her design courses at Dordt, along with internships near Dordt and in Chicago, prepared her to design elegant, functional websites.

“When it comes to designing a web page, design and functionality are inseparable,” she says. Clemens designs the “front-end” of websites—the part users see and interact with. “It’s surprising how often I design something I think looks pretty good, but then when we put it into practice, we realize it doesn’t work very well,” she says.

“Along with my degree in art, I was a business major. I’ve never really been interested in creating art for art’s sake. I’ve always been interested in how to communicate something clearly, or make someone’s life easier through good design,” she says.

Sarah Zwier

MUSEUM EXHIBIT DESIGNER

Sarah Zwier (’06) spent one of her last semesters as a Dordt student interning for the Field Museum in Chicago, and she continued working there for several years after graduation. “That’s where I really cut my teeth in exhibit design,” she says. “I learned to take concepts from my design courses at Dordt and apply them to three-dimensional environments.”

Now she works as a graphic artist at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Recently, Zwier helped design and install an exhibit about sports science. Today, the space is filled with kids and parents, practicing their baseball swing in front of a slow-motion camera or racing down a track alongside virtual competitors.

When Zwier first chose to study art at Dordt, she wondered if she “was the right type of creative person.”

“At Dordt, there were wonderful painters, illustrators, and sculptors. But as a designer, I wasn’t quite sure how I fit in. I soon learned that my medium was the computer, which required precision and the ability to manipulate type, colors, and images to create engaging visuals,” she says. “Graphic design was a great fit for my artistic gifts.”