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2021 co-hort

We welcome the 2021 fellows for the inaugural session of Artist INC Des Moines. Artists are selected through a competitive panel process that looks at quality of work and readiness for the program. The selection process also looks at the diversity of the seminar cohort to ensure diversity in all its definitions including demographics (gender, age, and ethnicity) and artistic discipline. Applications for the 2022 session will launch fall, 2021.

Congratulations to the 2021 fellows: Jenna Brownlee, Sabrina Carper, Brittany Brooke Crow, Kat Darling, Maggie Douglas, Jeremiah Elbel, Amee Ellis, Autumn Rozario Hall, Megan Hammer, Tobi Hightshoe, Julie Houghton, Allen Juneau, Juliana Jones, Linda Lewis, Jami Milne, Cynthia O'Hern, Hanna Peipel, Antonio Roddy, Sundie Ruppert, Julie Russell-Steuart, Stephanie Schneider, Laura Travnicek, Andrea VanWyk, Jill Wells and Kelsey Wilson.

Jenna Brownlee

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Jenna Brownlee is a Des Moines, Iowa native, watercolor painter, graphic designer and muralist. After studying multiple mediums of art at the Des Moines Art Center, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Entrepreneurship Certificate from the University of Iowa. She worked as graphic designer focusing on branding, creative direction and design production for 10 years and was awarded the 2017 YP Creative of the Year. Brownlee’s watercolor work can be found on Etsy and in local retail stores, markets and festivals. She does commissioned and freelance work and has painted murals throughout Iowa. Spot Jenna’s designs on brands like Better Homes & Gardens, Lidgett and Papyrus. With a mission to and make people happy and enhance communities through art, her work is often inspired by collages of organic shapes found in nature with themes of bright colors, flowers and typography that encourage others to stop and smell the roses.

Sabrina Carper

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Sabrina Carper graduated from Grand View University in 2020 with a BA in Studio Arts. She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa where she has a studio practice out of Mainframe Studios. Her work uses a variety of mediums and subjects to explore concepts of human connection and conversation. She is especially interested in the contrast between in-person and online communication. She uses found text from online forums, family photos, and symbols of both analog and digital communication to grapple with what it means to form relationships and have a meaningful connection in the 21st century.

Brittany Brooke Crow

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Brittany Brooke Crow is an artist based out of Mainframe Studios in Des Moines, Iowa. Crow’s work explores ideas of intimacy, vulnerability, distance and disruption, and the performative
action necessary to create the image is an inherent part of the content of her work. Crow earned a BA in art history and a BFA in studio art from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013. In 2020, Crow received an Iowa Arts Council Art Project Grant to support the photographic installation Exhibition(ist).

Kat Darling

Kat Darling is a musician and singer/songwriter in the band, The High Crest and is the CEO of 5 of Hearts Productions. She is dedicated to the development of creative culture and community. What drives her is the belief that making and creating art is important and that to create a culture, we must express ourselves and encourage others to do so. Kat is a road warrior and adventures through life with her husband, Aaron Earl Short, two children, Abileen and Rockwell and her cat, Mango. Her passions include cooking, nature and minimalism. She enjoys teaching, writing and illustrating.

Maggie Douglas

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Maggie Douglas was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated from Loras College with a B.A. in Art and Digital Design in 2014. Since then, she has worked a graphic designer and a fine artist. Her body of work includes 2-D abstract, mixed media pieces on paper and canvas as well as mural work. Maggie finds inspiration in nature, from its cellular level to a bird’s-eye view, and allows her materials to work naturally with gravity to form the abstract shapes and patterns which replicate what she sees in the world. She hopes for her work to be used as a way to bring people together and begin conversations based on each person’s worldview.

Jeremiah Elbel

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In his work, Jeremiah Elbel examines the perspective of the spectator in relationship to events of great tragedy in history. Tragedies that have molded and shaped the world we all come from and know. Elbel creates visual narratives concerned with investigating the relationship between individual identity and Jung’s idea of aesthetic archetypes and the collective conscience. Most of Elbel’s paintings weave layers of the technicolor spectrum and dark contrasting sepia-tones into photorealistic renderings of massive crowds in frozen states of unrest, interrogation chambers, depictions of religious absurdities, and armed bank robbers. There is a thread of dissonance that exists in everything he renders. Though the uniqueness of his style is directly linked to the filter Elbel uses to find his subjects, Elbel seeks to reveal the universal truth about the identity of an American culture entertained.

Amee Ellis

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Amee Ellis grew up around the Midwest and studied fine art photography at Columbia College Chicago. Her landscapes contemplate the interconnectedness of spirit and place. All of her photographs are created with film, using a variety of old manual cameras, enabling a slow approach to picture-making. Amees work has been a part of diverse exhibitions, including her 2019 solo exhibition, In Our Natureat the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. She has participated in numerous juried art festivals, including the Des Moines Arts Festival and Art in the Pearl in Portland, Oregon. Amee was a Top 200 finalist in the 2019 Photolucida Critical Mass Jury Review and is currently working on a creative collaboration with the Des Moines Metro Opera.

Megan Hammer

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Megan Hammer creates fiber art to embrace the textures of nature. Her felted wool artworks inspire examination and curiosity while encouraging a surprising and unexpected appreciation for the natural world. Megan earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003 and draws heavily on her painting and drawing experience in the application of fiber in her work. She is continually fascinated by the versatility of creating art through different felting processes and loves sharing her techniques during her creative workshops. Megan can be found admiring the flora of her surroundings, whether wandering the wild prairie, or weeding her backyard flower garden. She creates art from her Urbandale, Iowa home while caring for and instilling a love of nature in her two young sons. Connect with Megan on social media @artgrowswild. Learn more about Megan and her work at www.artgrowswild.com.

Tobi Hightshoe

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Tobin James Jang Sung Hightshoe was born in Seoul, South Korea July 28, 1979. Tobi was adopted and brought to the United States at the age of three where he was raised in Ames, Iowa. He attended Gilbert public school district where his passion for art was encouraged by his high school art teacher Cheri Schloerke. He is an Iowa Des Moines Area Community College Graduate in Graphic Design, Animation, and Rich Media. He enjoys sketching, storyboarding, animating, and illustrating. His artistic inspirations are Jim Lee, Adam Van Wyk, and Andrew Loomis. When he is not sketching or reading graphic novels, he enjoys spending time with his wife Jennifer, daughter Aubrey and cat Mavis.

Julie Houghton

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Julie Houghton was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and studied studio art at Grand View University. She eventually moved to Chicago to finish her BFA at The School of the Art Institute. At this point, her art consisted of large figurative works on paper using a variety of mixed media, and Julie was fortunate enough to participate in various group exhibitions throughout the city. Over time, she returned to Des Moines landing a job in arts administration while raising a child and taking care of aging parents. Julie became attracted to children’s picture book illustration and collaborated on two books. Eventually, she turned her attention back to fine art and became interested in abstraction via alcohol ink, thanks to a class at the Des Moines Art Center. She has been exploring that medium ever since.

Allen Juneau

Allen Juneau (they/them) is a composer specialized in music for media. Their musical palette covers a wide range of genres from dramatic to gospel to electronics. Allen began playing piano and organ in the Black church, and started studying classical piano at age 11, followed by Applied Mathematics and Music at Harvard University, and is completing a Master’s degree in Film Scoring at Berklee Online.

Juliana Jones

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Juliana Jones is a Visual Artist who is known for creating 3-dimensional experiences from 2-dimensional paper. She grew up in Japan, Europe, and the United States, and was always using her creativity through dancing, singing, and making crafts. She went on to art school where she trained and experimented in many different mediums. She took her creativity into a career in Graphic Design and Web Development. But a strong desire to once again get her hands dirty has given her a new way to express her thoughts and emotions, and to show us the world as she sees it. She ultimately wants to inspire others to let their light shine bright.

Linda Lewis

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Linda Lewis first put her hands in clay when she and her brothers found clay on the banks of a nearby creek. They built objects and ‘cities’ on boulders in the creek, watched them wash away and built more. With no art program in the small town public school she attended in Michigan she relished the art classes she took at a small private college in Iowa and got a minor in art. After spending 35 years as an educator, completing a masters degree and raising 4 children she put her hands in clay again returning to her love of ‘creating objects’. Since 2010 Lewis has exhibited her work at top Juried Art Fairs, juried exhibitions, galleries, public settings and in her studio at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines and has received various awards for her sculptural work. Her sculptures can be found in hundreds of individuals’ homes and workspaces as well as public spaces. During the pandemic she has experimented with printmaking and mixed media, incorporating her use of layers and texture on the surface of her sculptures with her 2-D work.

Jami Milne

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Jami Milne is an artist, photographer and writer whose work focuses on the interrogation of emotional and societal issues. She has partnered on collaborations with Altitude Summit, Ballet Des Moines, Des Moines Public Schools, dsm Magazine, Dwolla, Natty Blanc, One Iowa, Tech Journey, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Vice Media for Levi’s and others. Her work has been shown in galleries in Iowa, Arizona, Vermont, California and New York City and resides in private collections across the nation. Two of her large-scale photographic murals Press Pause and The Distance Formula can be found on the sides of buildings in downtown Des Moines. From collage and mixed media to photography and installation, Milne creates with the intention of producing work that is fraught with interpretation and opportunities for engagement.

Cynthia O'Hern

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Cynthia O'Hern is a Des Moines-based maker by trade and artist by nature. Pushing the boundaries of traditional applied usage, she found feltmaking an apt medium to integrate her craft skill with artistic expression. Her feltwork depicts the human form with pulsating musculature encased in foreboding, mottled flesh to allude to the body as vehicle for temporal human experience. Her feltwork has been shown at the Anderson Gallery at Drake, as a solo installation at Olson Larsen Galleries’ OL Guild space, in juried exhibits in central Iowa, and won Best of Show at Octagonal 2020 (Ames) and the 2019 Iowa Exhibited XXXIV (Des Moines). She travels the Midwest vending hand-made garments, jewelry and toiletries at her pop-up shop, The Compost Pile. She earned a BFA in the History of Art and Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

Hanna Piepel

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Hanna Piepel is an illustrator, designer and ceramicist based in Ankeny, Iowa. As an interdisciplinary artist, Hanna explores the overlap of illustration with her ceramic practice by image transfer techniques. Her surface designs reflect an eclectic contrast of vintage floral and mid-century forms. Hanna’s colorful illustration style and hand-drawn patterns are also featured in several internationally published magazines, children’s books, novel covers.

Antonio Roddy

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Antonio is the creator of DesignedByTheStreets.com. A brand that is based on his experiences growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He hopes to inspire others to turn their struggles into their strengths and share the healing powers of the creative process. Designed By The Streets showcases Art, Apparel, Music, and hosts a weekly podcast.

Autumn Rozario Hall

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Autumn Rozario Hall is a painter living and working in Des Moines, Iowa. Her mixed media paintings explore native prairies, folklore, and human connectivity to nature. Her paintings often contain figures immersed within the landscape. They act upon the environment, as it in turn, acts upon them, symbolizing the inextricable connection between person, earth, and the process of growth. She is a recipient of a Community Art Grant from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and is currently working within the rewilding movement, blending art with environmental outreach in the form of native plant workshops and writing.

Sundie Ruppert

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Sundie Ruppert received a BFA from Iowa State University followed by a two-decade long career in Graphic Design working for Meredith Corporation, Principal Financial and Garden.com. For the past twenty years she has been a self-employed fine artist working along side her husband, Brad. Specializing in found-object sculpture. Their current body of work is called SculpturalFelt. Combining their passion of repurposing with the fascination of texture and the need to innovate, they are creating highly tactile mixed media sculptures from previously discarded textiles. Never before 2020 has it been more apparent that in order to live a full, well-round life we have a basic human need to feel through touch. Their multi-dimensional creations are nearly impossible to resist. Their sculptures are part of many private and public collections worldwide and they have been presented multiple grants and awards for their creative innovations.

Julie Russell-Steuart

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Visual artist Julie Russell-Steuart grew up in Maryland and earned a BFA in General Fine Art from Maryland Institute, College of Art. Her work encompasses multiple mediums with a particular interest the synthesis of word and image. She publishes artist’s books and prints on a vintage Vandercook printing press under the imprint Caveworks Press. Her work often combines two or more printmaking techniques like linoleum carving, pressure printing, collograph, polyester lithography, drypoint, laser cut plates, metal type and carborundum. She has shown her artist's books and prints internationally. The Ephemera print series explores and responds to current events; an of-the-moment snapshot of the emotions and undercurrents of being alive right now.

Stephanie Schneider

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Stephanie Schneider is a performer and director based out of Des Moines, Iowa. Recent credits include Kathy in Singin' in the Rain and Miss Shields in A Christmas Story The Musical at the Des Moines Playhouse. She is also involved in local film and is represented by the Peak Agency. Along with performing on stage and film, Stephanie is involved in multiple improv groups and is studying voice over work and intimacy direction. Versatile, efficient, engaging and charismatic are how other collaborators describe her and her creative work. Outside the arts, she loves to read, be outdoors, and is a huge Star Wars nerd.

Laura Travnicek

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Laura is an an artist living and working in Urbandale, IA. She received a B.A. in art education with an emphasis in painting in 2007 from The University of Northern Iowa. Laura makes narrative portrait paintings using oil paint on canvas and wood panels. Her paintings focus on themes of psychological negotiation, identity shifts, and relationship.

Andrea VanWyk

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Andrea (Busker) Van Wyk has been teaching the visual art at Pella Community Schools since graduating from Central College (‘84). Andrea has also been teaching the Elementary and Secondary Methods of Art Education at Central following the completion of her Masters degree in Art Education from Iowa State University (‘99). Andrea continues to teach middle school visual art, high school Art Appreciation for DMACC and train college students at Central to be art educators. During her free time, Andrea likes to paint organic and architectural subjects, while experimenting with the painting methods of famous artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Helen Frankenthaller and Morris Lewis. She strives to share her passion for painting by scheduling multiple shows during the year that showcase her recent work.

Jill Wells

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Iowa based artist Jill Wells is best known for her dynamic and colorful narrative paintings investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility and the human condition. Born in 1980 in Des Moines, Iowa, Wells was raised in Indianola, Iowa. She studied at Drake University (BFA 2005). An award-winning painter, Wells has been in practice for more than 18 years, with public and private works in Iowa, Mississippi, Arizona and New Orleans. Her artwork is represented in the permanent collections of: Disability Rights Iowa, Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Blank Park Zoo, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, The Annette Nature Center, Polk County Jail (west wing) and Creative Visions Human Development Center. In 2020, Lavender and Lime profiled Wells in an online published portrait manifesto series, Black Lives Matter Portrait Manifesto. Most recently, Wells was the recipient of the Iowa Creative Incubator Fellowship through Mainframe Studios. Currently Jill Wells serves on the Board of Directors for The After School Arts Program and works as a full-time Artist.

Kelsey Wilson

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Kelsey Wilson is an artist and illustrator from Nevada, Iowa. Her artwork is executed in a variety of traditional mediums including watercolor, acrylics and pastel pencils. With a MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and seven years of freelancing Kelsey pursues her studio mission to bring “Joy through Art” in whatever form that may be.
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