2013/14 McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship Recipients Announced

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and The McKnight Foundation are proud to announce the recipients of the 2013/14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists: Catherine Meier of Duluth, and Joe Sinness, Amy Toscani, and Dyani White Hawk of the Twin Cities.

Designed to identify and support outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists provide recipients with $25,000 stipends, public recognition, professional encouragement from national visiting critics, an artist book, and exhibition at the MCAD Gallery. The fellowships are funded by a generous grant from The McKnight Foundation and administered by MCAD.

The 2013/14 McKnight fellows were selected from a group of 190 applicants by a panel of arts professionals of varying backgrounds whose careers intersect with the visual arts in different ways. This year’s jurors were Megan Hamilton, an arts writer and program manager at the Creative Alliance, a community-based non-profit arts organization in Baltimore; Gilbert Vicario, senior curator at the Des Moines Art Center; and Lynne Yamamoto, a practicing artist and associate professor of studio art at Smith College in Northampton, MA.


Catherine Meier explores the meaning of “open space” in her large-scale graphite drawings, woodcuts, and animations. Representing a state of mind as well as a state of being, these expansive landscapes are redolent of the artist’s own travels crossing the Great Plains of North America and the Mongolian Steppe where her experience of freedom and boundlessness also fueled feelings of fear and paranoia. Meier has shown her work in gallery and museum settings in the Midwest, South, and Japan, at film festivals, and in the very landscapes that gave rise to her drawings. She has a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her awards include two from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.

Joe Sinness’s still life drawings are visual narratives of desire. Through the process of selecting and arranging objects and subjects that he adores and then re-presenting them in colored pencil on paper, they—the drawings—become yet another type of fetishized commodity. The seductive beauty of Sinness’s photorealistic drawing style imbues these staged still lifes with a metaphoric presence that he characterizes as “melancholic tributes to queer performance.” The artist received his BA in Studio Art and English Literature from St. John’s University and his MFA in Studio Art from MCAD. Sinness’s work has been widely exhibited around Minnesota and Wisconsin and in 2014 he will have his first international solo show in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The artist is also a 2013 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Amy Toscani’s low-brow, hand-built objects are intentionally a little off-kilter. Constructed out of ubiquitous plastic products and an assortment of thrift-store items, they speak to a mainstream Midwestern sensibility. But their awkward appearance and deliberate imperfections underscores their affinity with camp, kitsch, and queer culture. Toscani, the recipient of many grants and awards from the Jerome, McKnight, and Bush Foundations, has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in Minnesota and the Midwest. Her commissioned work is on view on the campuses of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and MCAD, and in Lowertown, St. Paul. The artist completed both her undergraduate and graduate studio art degrees at Ohio University.

Dyani White Hawk draws upon her Lakota and European ancestry to create mixed media artwork that investigates the challenges and blessings of a cross-cultural existence. Practices of painting, beading, and quillwork, along with formal qualities of line, color, and balance inform her compositions. By breaking apart and reconstructing the relationship between Western art histories and traditional Lakota symbols, motifs, and worldviews, the artist establishes her own contemporary mode of abstracted painting that testifies to the dynamic nature of culture. White Hawk received her MFA in Studio Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her work has been widely exhibited in New Mexico and the Upper Midwest and will be on view in 2013 at the University of Venice, Italy. In addition, White Hawk is a recent recipient of the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts Discovery Fellowship. She is currently the gallery director and curator at All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis.


The MCAD Gallery will be featuring an exhibition of new work by the 2012/13 McKnight Visual Artist Fellows—Jim Denomie, Chris Larson, Ruben Nusz, and Natasha Pestich—from June 14 to July 14, 2013. The opening reception will be held on Friday, June 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. An online catalog featuring artist interviews and graphite drawings by Phong Bui, artist and publisher of The Brooklyn Rail, will be installed in the exhibition space and available for download as an iPad application, eBook, and pdf.

The McKnight Artist Fellowship program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Established in 1981, the fellowship program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in twelve areas, totaling nearly $1 million each year. Arts organizations oversee the administration of the fellowships and structure their own programs to respond to the unique opportunities and challenges of different creative disciplines.

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grant-making, coalition-building, and the encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based foundation had assets of approximately $1.9 billion and granted about $91 million in 2011.

Recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to visual arts education, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is home to more than 700 students and offers professional certificates, bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of science degrees, and graduate degrees.

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Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Sunday, Noon–5:00 p.m.