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Although Stephen Kinney has always been
artistic, he didn't begin seriously making art
until much later in life.
During a 35-year career with the U.S. Post Of-
fice, and as part of his 23 years of service in the
Army National Guard, Kinney served a one-year
tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. After returning
home, he enrolled at MCC to study art to help
recover from the effects of the war.
"Art is a form of therapy and helps with my
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)," said
Kinney. "When I first came back from Iraq, loud
noises would set off flashbacks of the war. I like
the concentration of art it helps me to not let
those negative thoughts take over."
Kinney graduated from MCC in 2010 with a
degree in Studio Art and was a member of Phi
Theta Kappa, the national honor society for
two-year colleges. He transferred to UMass
Lowell and is graduating with a bachelor's
degree in fine art this spring.
"I was always drawing as a kid," said Kinney.
As a letter carrier, he often created his own
Christmas cards. But the North Chelmsford
resident never formally studied art.
In Iraq, Kinney's New Hampshire National Guard
unit escorted convoys. It was dangerous work,
but even there he continued to be creative.
"I was always making things in Iraq everybody
called me MacGyver," he said laughing, refer-
ring to TV's resourceful secret agent who used
everyday materials to get out of jams. He even
created a Christmas card for his unit.
After his tour, Kinney returned home needing
shoulder and hip surgery, and suffering from
traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of an
improvised explosive device (IED) blast. He was
later awarded a Purple Heart, with the support
of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
Kinney began treatment at the VA Hospital in
Bedford, and enrolled at Middlesex. Lately, he
has been inspired by the materials contractors
used to add a basement studio to his home. He
now creates large paintings and sculpture using
house paint and colorful spray-insulation foam
which he buys by the case.
What started out as art therapy has turned into
a full-blown creative passion. Kinney's first one-
man show opens in early May at the Zeitgeist
Gallery & Artists Collaborative in Lowell.
Alumni Focus
Arts & Humanities
A ballet dancer since the age of 4, Brittany
Leigh Andersen (Class of '12) had planned on
becoming a professional dancer until she
enrolled at Middlesex.
"As a dance student, I discovered that many
of the ballets I had danced were inspired by old
folk tales, legends and literature," said
Andersen. "I found ballet's deeply rooted
connections in culture and literature
fascinating. From that moment on, I gravitated
toward classes involving literature, culture and
While at Middlesex, Andersen continued her
study of ballet and literature. She took a
variety of courses, but chose to focus on English
after taking "English Composition II"
with Professor Cathy McCarron.
"I remember how passionate and enthusiastic
Professor McCarron was about literature,"
said Andersen. "She engaged students in class
and was incredibly supportive. Her enthusiasm
inspired me to learn more about and read more
Andersen took several courses through MCC's
Commonwealth Honors Program (CHP). "Those
Honors courses set the foundation for my
interest in research and cultural studies," she
said. "Through both of my research projects
for the CHP's annual Poster Conference, I was
able to combine cultural and literary
methodologies, as well as my love of dance."
After graduating with an associate degree in
Liberal Arts & Sciences, Andersen transferred
to UMass Lowell, where she is pursuing a
bachelor's degree in English literature, with a
minor in French. After graduating this spring,
she is hoping to pursue a doctorate in
cultural studies.
Although Anderson is no longer pursing a
professional dance career, she continues to
dance recreationally.
"As an English major, I've been able to
combine all of my passions into one field
of study. I could not imagine my life
without them."
Stephen Kinney
Studio Art
From Mailman to Iraq War Veteran to Artist
Brittany Leigh Andersen
Literature --
Combining a Passion for Dance and Literature
Stephen Kinney
Brittany Leigh Andersen