The Artist Fellowship Program provides support to artists who demonstrate exceptional creativity and the capacity to contribute to the innovation and elevation of the arts in Iowa.
Iowa Artist Fellows
Angela Altenhofen is a sculptor, performance artist, costume designer and illustrator. She earned her BFA from the University of Northern Iowa, and MFA in Sculpture and Ceramics from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Altenhofen has exhibited her art nationally and internationally, including at art galleries and museums in Tel Aviv, Vienna, Florence, Italy and Chicago. Immediately after graduate school, Ange was diagnosed with presumed ocular histoplasmosis, a degenerative eye condition that could eventually lead to blindness. As a visual artist this forced her to rethink her creative practice, and she began researching how blind people experience art and process visual information. This resulted in “The Braille Series,” an ongoing body of tactile work that incorporates Braille text, represented by beads and gemstones, onto various materials and forms. Altenhofen returned to her hometown of Chariton, Iowa in 2015 where she currently lives and works.
Scott Bradley is an Iowa-born writer, performer and stage director, whose work has been seen across the United States. His musical We Three Lizas (book/lyrics) premiered with About Face Theatre and enjoyed multiple productions nationally. As co-founder of The Scooty & JoJo Show, he wrote books for, directed and performed in Chicago’s long-running musicals Alien Queen and Carpenters Halloween, as well as the musicals Mollywood, Tran: The Atari Musical, and regular cabaret engagements. Since his return to Iowa in 2015, Bradley was awarded a year-long residency at Scattergood Friends School, received his MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, contributed writing to Hot Tamale Louie, and his documentary drama The Wood Problem was featured at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and the American Gothic House. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA. Bradley currently lives and works out of West Branch.
Matthew Kluber is a visual artist working in the intersection of painting and digital technology. He received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Kluber has exhibited his paintings/projections, films and drawings at galleries and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, China; FOCUS09/Art Basel, Switzerland; The Painting Center, New York; Orange Door, Chicago; and Art Basel Miami. His work is in the collection of the Austin Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Des Moines Art Center, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Estée Lauder International Inc., and the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation. He resides in Cedar Rapids and is currently a Professor and Chair of the Art Department at Grinnell College.
Rachel Merrill is an interdisciplinary artist exploring themes of spectacle, American sports and competition. Merrill received a BS from the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, MN, and earned her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI. She has exhibited her work nationally and is active in her local art community, sharing a passion for art and education within the central Iowa area. She currently works as an Associate Professor of Art at Grand View University in Des Moines, teaching all levels of students in drawing, design, sculpture, art history and critical thinking.
Amenda Tate is an interdisciplinary artist with a background in fine art and metalsmithing. Her work utilizes scientific and aesthetic processes to address identity, individuality, longevity and the culture of social interaction in our digital era. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the US, and in various media outlets including the Denver Post, Art Jewelry Today 2, the Des Moines Register, Better Homes & Gardens, dsm Magazine and Popular Science. Tate has worked as an Artist-In-Residence with the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and Ballet Des Moines. Special honors include a permanent collection commission by Arrow Electronics in conjunction with Cherry Arts and the Colorado Ballet, two Editor’s Choice Awards at the New York International Maker Faire, and a special recognition award in the 2017 International RobotArt competition. Tate currently lives and works out of West Des Moines.
Noah Doely works across various media, primarily in photography, sculpture and video. He received a BFA from the University of Northern Iowa and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in venues such as Steve Turner Contemporary (Los Angeles), The San Diego Museum of Art, Locust Projects (Miami), The Cornell Fine Arts Museum (Winter Park), Viafarini (Milan, Italy), Seattle Center on Contemporary Art, and the Des Moines Art Center. Doely has been awarded fellowships and residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, The MacDowell Colony, The Penumbra Foundation, The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. His work has appeared in various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Juxtapoz Magazine and Burnaway Magazine. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Northern Iowa.
Julia Franklin uses art to tell the stories of what we leave behind. She has been creating art from discarded objects for more than 20 years, but her most recent works are inspired by a single box of her father’s possessions given to her years after his tragic death. To make sense of his suicide, she creates displays with his personal belongings, letters and documents to examine what people conceal in order to protect, and to begin conversations about mental illness and identity. Franklin received her BFA from Midwestern State University and earned her MFA from Texas Christian University. She worked at the Dallas Museum of Art before moving to rural Iowa in 2001. She now resides in West Des Moines and serves as Professor of Art at Graceland University, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011. Franklin has exhibited artworks in over 70 shows across the nation.
Lauren Haldeman is the author of Instead of Dying (winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry, Center for Literary Publishing, 2017), Calenday (Rescue Press, 2014) and the artist book The Eccentricity is Zero (Digraph Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in Tin House, Colorado Review, Fence, The Iowa Review and The Rumpus. As an illustrator and poet, she has been a recipient of the Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, the Colorado Prize for Poetry and fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She works as an editor and web developer at the University of Iowa.
Mary Jones makes mixed media artworks about urban walking. For 17 years she was Professor of Art & Design at Grand View University in Des Moines where she taught courses in printmaking, book arts and graphic design. Prior to teaching, she worked as an illustrator with work published by The Chicago Tribune, Playboy Magazine and the Philadelphia Enquirer, among others. She has worked in the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Women in the Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and in the State Museum of Illinois in both Chicago and Springfield. She has been an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation and at Anchor Graphics, Chicago. She has received project grants from both the Illinois Arts Council and the Iowa Arts Council.
Molly Wood is a photographer who explores botanicals as metaphors for the natural cycles of life, death and rebirth. Her digital photos use only window light and are styled with traditional Dutch still life paintings in mind. Wood has a BA in Photojournalism from Texas Christian University and an MA in Art History from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. She manages photo shoots for Better Homes and Gardens products and teaches History of Photography at DMACC. She has held solo exhibitions at Iowa State University, St Ambrose University and the Muscatine Art Museum. Wood has been included in exhibitions at Olson-Larsen Galleries, the Dubuque Art Museum, the Freeport Art Museum, the Midwest Center for Photography and the Kansas City Society of Contemporary Photography. Wood lives in Des Moines with her daughter, Emma.
River Glen Breitbach of Rickardsville was born in Dubuque. He began his musical career at the age of 2 on the violin. Blessed with the good fortune of a family that nurtured his love for music and performance, River has become a powerhouse multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with over 20 years of experience performing throughout the Midwest. His original folk-pop music draws on the traditions of conscious lyricism and political relevance to deliver performances steeped in honesty and kindness that engage listeners of all ages and endorse the idea that music can serve as medicine.
Jennifer Drinkwater of Ames is an assistant professor with a joint appointment between the department of art and visual culture and Iowa State University extension and outreach. Originally from Mississippi, she has a BA in both studio art and anthropology from Tulane University and earned an MFA in painting from East Carolina University. Her paintings have been exhibited nationally in juried and group shows, and she has had solo exhibitions in Iowa, New York, Illinois, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, and Washington, DC. Her work has been featured in New American Paintings and Studio Visit magazine. Her personal work and teaching often explore how we bring artwork from the studio into the world, and accordingly, how this work can both build and shape community.
Jack Meggers of Des Moines grew up in Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa. He earned his Bachelor's degree from Iowa State University, then moved to New York City and began his career in stage theatre. During his seven years in New York, Jack turned his attention to cinema. He relocated to Los Angeles, and began his film career in earnest, learning the craft of filmmaking by acquiring hands on experience in every department. His first short film, "FRIGID", was selected to the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Jack also directed and produced several music videos for bands in the Los Angeles area. In recent years, Jack was the Studio Manager at Quixote Studios, home to the long-running TV series “CRIMINAL MINDS”. His current venture, which brings him back to his home state, is his feature-film debut, currently entitled "THE BURIAL"
Lee Emma Running of Grinnell makes installations and sculptures inspired by natural phenomena. The materials she works with include animal bones, paper, fabric, fur, raw pigments and gold. She moved to Iowa City in 2001 to apprentice with papermaker Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa Center for the Book where she learned to analyze materials and process as well as maintain the discipline of a fine craft. Lee is an Associate Professor at Grinnell College, and has received Artists Residencies and Jentel, Banner WY, Penland School of Crafts, NC, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and The Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been exhibited at the Des Moines Art Center, The Charlotte Street Foundation, The Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art. Running received a BFA from Pratt Institute in 1999, and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 2005. She is represented by Olsen Larson Gallery.
Rachel Yoder of Iowa City is a founding editor of draft: the journal of process, a literary journal that features first and final drafts of stories, essays, and poems along with author interviews about the creative process. She also hosts The Fail Safe, an interview podcast produced in collaboration with the Iowa Writers’ House, that explores how today’s most successful writers grapple with and learn from failure. Rachel’s writing has been awarded with The Missouri Review’s Editors’ Prize in both Fiction and Audio, as a finalist for The Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and with notable distinctions in Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading. A graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, she is currently at work on an autobiographical collection of stories based on growing up Mennonite and leaving that community.
Stephanie Brunia is a photographer who lives and works in Oxford, Iowa. She uses the medium to explore desires and fears surrounding human connection. Brunia received an MFA with distinction from the University of New Mexico in 2012. In 2007, she received a BFA with honors and higher distinction from the University of Iowa. She has exhibited at the Griffin Photography Museum, Rosalux Gallery, the Center for Fine Art Photography, and Rayko Photo Center and Musee d’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2011, Brunia was one of three artists to be featured in the Des Moines Art Center’s annual Iowa Artists exhibition.
Brent Holland of Des Moines is a visual artist who integrates digital and traditional media applications into paintings and drawings. Using both figurative representation and formal abstraction, he transforms elements of his daily life into works that range in size and content from miniature hyperrealist portraits to wall-size collages. His work is a response to his fascination with the visual diversity of his surroundings – from the details of the human body to cluttered studio spaces, architectural drawings and urban graffiti walls. His artwork is exhibited widely, held in public and private collections and represented by Olson-Larsen Galleries. Holland is currently an Associate Professor of Art and Visual Culture at Iowa State University.
Jennifer L. Knox’s poems speak in voices that are often ignored in the elevated realm of poetry. Through diction and popular culture, she strives to surprise readers with epiphanies of inclusion. Her interest in voice led her to the technique of crowdsourcing poems, which offers an unprecedented opportunity to generate inclusionary narratives. Birds have always been a central theme in her work. Originally from Southern California, she received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Iowa and her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. She is the author of four books of poems. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including in the New York Times, the New Yorker and American Poetry Review. She currently lives in Ames and teaches at Iowa State University.
Akwi Nji is a performance artist who combines the raw edge of performance poetry with silky smooth elements of live creative storytelling. In her writing she explores race, gender, parenthood and those mundane moments that, when given life on stage, become windows into universal truths about the human condition. Nji has performed at such venues as Chicago’s Green Mill and Martyrs’. Nji spent seven seasons writing and performing for SPT Theatre’s Tales from the Writers’ Room before founding The Hook, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide local writers and artists with the opportunity to tell their community’s stories through artistic adaptions produced for the stage. Nji is the producer of The NewBo PoJam, the largest performance poetry and storytelling event in the Creative Corridor.
Yun Shin of Orange City is a Korean artist who believes the process of making is a way of reconstructing relationships and remembering home. Relying on family treasures for inspiration, she reinterprets them by engaging in an intense process with repetitive movement. Labor and time, the very process of making, which is hidden and invested within each object, become a significant part of her work. She has exhibited her work at Woman Made Gallery inChicago and Pen and Brush in New York. She holds an MFA in studio art at the University of Texas and a BFA degree in craft and material studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently teaches painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics at Northwestern College as an assistant professor.
Rachel Buse of Des Moines makes sculptures and drawings depicting emotional perceptions of the human body, place and memory. Since 2012, she’s been developing a series of large temporary sculptures exploring what it would be like to walk around and approach an overwhelming feeling. Her installations have exhibited throughout Iowa and Nebraska. She participated in the 2015 Tough Art Residency at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh where she created an interactive sculpture for the museum.
Matt Drissell utilizes a variety of styles, from traditional illusionistic representation to conceptual abstraction, to create visual art that addresses themes of sustainability. He has a MFA in Painting from New York Academy of Art and a BA from Wheaton College - Illinois. Drissell believes in making the visual arts an integral part of local communities serving on the local arts council and teaching classes. He is a certified art teacher and taught middle and high school art for five years in Milwaukee and St. Louis. Drissell is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa where he lives with his wife Becky, two daughters, and son.
Larassa Kabel of Des Moines is a visual artist who uses photorealistic drawings, paintings and prints to address issues of loss, fear, gender and feminism. Kabel’s work has been shown nationally in galleries and museums including the Des Moines Art Center, The MISSION Gallery, PEEL Gallery, Karolyn Sherwood Gallery, exhibit 101, Visions West, and Moberg Gallery. One of her paintings graced the 2012 White House Christmas card.
Lisa Schlesinger is a playwright, writer and theatre activist. Her plays include the Celestial Bodies trilogy, The Bones of Danny Winston, and Rock Ends Ahead. A recipient of the NEA/TCG Playwrights Residency Award, the BBC International Playwriting Award, and a nominee for a USArtists Fellowship, her work is produced in the U.S. and internationally and published in American Theatre Magazine, Performing Arts Journal, Theatre Communications Group and the New York Times. Her plays are forthcoming from Broadway Plays and NoPassport. She is an affiliated artist with Sleeping Weazel in Boston and In Parenthesis in New York City. She teaches playwriting at the University of Iowa.
Rob Stephens, of Des Moines, is a printmaker who creates semi-autobiographical works using paint, silkscreen, comic book sequences, and monumental woodcut prints. His works employ a heavy gestural line and saturated color, often at odds with the themes and narratives depicted. From 2000-2014 he was a professor of art at Graceland University, teaching painting, printmaking, drawing and art history. He was a visiting artist at Mission Graphica in San Francisco, and has assisted in numerous print workshops across the country, including those at Frogman's Press and Tom Huck’s Evil Prints. His salacious tell-all comic features "Good Kid Rob," a neurotic alter-ego. His work is shown nationally and is represented by Moberg Gallery.
Lauren Alleyne of Dubuque is a writer who was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. Her fiction, poetry and non-fiction deal with the intersection of place, home, and belonging. Lauren’s work has been awarded numerous prizes and has been published in several journals and anthologies, including Crab Orchard Review, The Cimarron Review, Black Arts Quarterly, The Caribbean Writer, and The Belleview Literary Review. Her debut collection, Difficult Fruit, was published in February 2014 by Peepal Tree Press.
Robert John Ford
Robert John Ford of Des Moines is an award-winning playwright, composer and lyricist whose works have been produced throughout the country. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, TIME Magazine, CNN, CBS, ABC, and NPR. In June 2014, he will complete his two-year participation as a lyricist in the acclaimed BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in NYC. Ford will be launching a major new theatre endeavor in the fall of 2014.
Jordan Weber of Des Moines is an art-activist/curator. Jordan’s work strives to speak for the underprivileged majority against the opulently ruling minority. Weber uses oil, acrylic, spray paint, concrete and neon in numerous bodies of work to shock viewers from apathy while perturbing routine life. His work has been purchased by private collectors in Torino, Verona, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Seattle, Kansas City, Des Moines, Minneapolis, Houston and Omaha.
Kathranne Knight of Ames is a visual artist who makes delicate, complex, textilelike landscape drawings using repetition and straightforward rules of perspective. Her work has been shown nationally in galleries and museums including Mass MoCA, The Des Moines Art Center, The Danforth Museum, Carroll and Sons Gallery, Muriel Guepin Gallery, and Geoffrey Young Gallery. She was also published in New American Paintings #56, Northeast Edition.
Christopher Ford of Des Moines is a songwriter who writes, records, and performs music as Christopher the Conquered. Ford has played hundreds of shows internationally since 2006. This year, Ford will complete a fourth studio album in Memphis at the legendary Ardent Studios, release a live album recorded at Des Moines’ Salisbury House, and perform regionally and abroad, including a month-long tour of Italy at the end of 2014.