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Instructor Bios

Sarah Brokke
Sarah Brokke grew up in Grand Forks, ND, and received her BFA in Pre-Graduate Studio Art from UMD.  During that time she studied abroad in Birmingham, England.  She received her MFA through a joint program between Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy and Bowling Green State in Bowling Green, Ohio.  She returned to Duluth in 2004 where she has since taught Painting and Drawing (focusing on Portraiture and the Figure) at the Duluth Art Institute, and Art and Art History at the College of St. Scholastica.  Sarah's artwork is manifested primarily in paintings, with a focus on the figure.  Thematically, her work explores gender roles and traditions, relationships, and identity. She has exhibited at many venues locally, as well as nationally and internationally.

Kelly Dupre
Playing in the backyard woods, creating in our basement art room, and car camping with my family are some of my favorite childhood memories.  I was fascinated with such things as a crayfish crawling in the stream, a blustery winter storm and the soft beauty of new spring leaves.

After graduating from college with a degree in biology and education I worked in outdoor education and as a life science teacher for several years.  I then got my Master’s of Education and taught Special Education for 15 years.  Throughout that time, I developed my art and writing and then wrote and illustrated my first children’s picture book “The Raven’s Gift- A True Story From Greenland”  My desire to spend more time on creative projects grew and I left my teaching job in 2003.  

Since then, I have written and/or illustrated many books and produced art for framed pictures, logos, events, web sites and special projects. I also teach art and writing classes and work part time as the volunteer coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank in Duluth, MN.

The natural environment continues to be my greatest influence.  Joy, symbolism and a dash of humor are what I strive for as I continue my art and writing journey.

Barb Dwinell
A native Minnesotan, Barb Dwinell has lived in Duluth for over 40 years and has a deep and abiding love for the city and the lake. "The lake gets in your head and sticks there until you have to do something about it. With weaving, I love the interplay of colors and textures and the infinite possibilities inherent in the medium. I am a firm believer that art should surround us in our everyday lives in the form of useful well crafted objects." Barb is the Studio Manager for the Duluth Art Institute's Fiber Studio.

Susanna Gaunt
Susanna Gaunt is a visual artist with a background in photography. She was a core instructor for Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana for 10 years where she had the opportunity to teach throughout the country and abroad. After a brief hiatus that included raising two kids and a move to Duluth, she is excited to return to teaching. She most enjoys witnessing the lightbulb moments with beginning students, and challenging them to push their creative side. Susanna has a philosophy degree from Boston College and will graduate in 2017 from UMD with a BFA in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking.

Karin Kraemer
I grew up in Minneapolis and earned my BFA in glass working from St. Cloud State University in 1986.  After blowing glass in Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin, I moved to West Virginia, where I began to make clay work while pit firing it in my yard.  I moved to Carbondale, Illinois and did graduate work in Ceramics there.  I received my MFA in 1996, moved to Victoria, British Columbia and spent two years making pots, gardening and traveling. Duluth became my new home in 1998.  I teach at local colleges, and my studio, the Duluth Pottery, as well as selling work in galleries and at art fairs. My work is Maiolica, an in-glaze hand painted tin glaze technique. I make functional pots and tiles that are meant to celebrate the day.   My individual wall pieces and compositions of tiles are hand built and decorated with colorful, loose brushwork.  I draw from every day scenes and objects for my imagery.  Capturing the color and movement of the moment is my aim…the flowers in my garden trembling in a slight breeze and the sun glowing through them, or the light coming in the window and lighting the room.

Jeanne Larson
Jeanne Larson has taught classes in both traditional watercolor as well as mixed watermedia in the Twin Cities and regional art centers.  She’s been represented by several of the finest galleries in the region for over 20 years, has won awards and been featured speaker and demonstration artist for many arts organizations and societies.  She owns and operates Quiet Woods Studio, where she teaches ongoing classes and workshops.  Her original paintings are included in corporate collections including the Law firm of Doherty, Rumble and Butler and Hazelden San Diego as well as over 300 private collections both in the U.S. and abroad.

Karen Owsley Nease
Karen Owsley Nease is painter working with contemporary landscapes and pattern abstraction. Originally from the Kansas City area, she relocated to Duluth in 2013 to be near Lake Superior and the north woods.  A lifelong painter with a concurrent interest in design, she has a BFA in Painting/Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute and two architectural degrees from the University of Kansas.  She was co-owner of the acclaimed contemporary Joseph Nease Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri. She has exhibited extensively and recently had a solo exhibition of paintings in the Morrison Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute.  Her work is in corporate, museum and private collections in Missouri, Kansas and Minnesota.  She is represented in Duluth by Lizzards Gallery.

Karen has great passion and enthusiasm for art, especially painting.  She loves sharing her deep knowledge of various painting media, techniques, and styles.  She is particularly excited to work with students to develop their strengths around their specific interests and motivations as painters.  Her website is karennease.com.

Pete Prudhomme
I started with clay as a prerequisite for my degree program in management from Lake Superior College, and graduated in 2003 with high honors.  In the past 13 years I’ve studied with Bob Husby, Dorian Beaulieu, Tonya Borgeson and Dave Lynas.  I’ve enjoyed working with porcelain and stoneware with the high fire results you can get from wood and gas fired pottery.  Recently, I taught kiln building classes at Guangzhou Acadamy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou, China  and have assisted in many Duluth Art Institute classes. My experience in ceramics includes kiln building and firing, high fire pottery, and Raku processes.

Mary Reichert
I began working on farms and learning the fiber arts in my mid twenties, knitting, spinning, and weaving, but it wasn't until I started felting that I focused my passion for creating beauty in the world.  It's hard to say what has grabbed me the most with felting.  I love the textures, the ability to shape forms without sewing, the ability to sew forms with such a forgiving fabric, and the connection to a long line of those who have come before me, especially the nomads of Central Asia whose lives rotate with the seasons of the grasslands and the animals they sustain.  My hope is to keep breathing new life into these old ways, honoring the incredible marriage of function and beauty and passing on this art through hands-on experiences at my studio, Otlak Felt Studio and Clothing, in my hometown of Duluth, MN.  (DeWitt Seitz Marketplace, 4th Floor.  218-491-7099)

Sheila Staubus
Sheila Staubus is an instructor and studio manager at the Duluth Art Institute’s ceramic studio. Since she got hooked on clay in 2001, she has studied under many instructors of local, national and international renown. “Teaching others what I have learned forces me to think about how and why I do things a certain way, and what new (or old) techniques I want to try. I also meet many wonderful and creative people.“ Sheila loves the rhythm and line of Moorish architecture, the intricacy of Indian stone and woodcarving, the soft brushstrokes of Oriental watercolor, and the color and swirl of rosemaling. “I like to celebrate the ordinary…vines, birds, snowflakes, things that I see out my window, things that make me laugh.”

Adam Stevenson
Adam Stevenson was born and raised in Hamden, Connecticut.  He has lived in Duluth since 1994 with his wife and two children.  He has a B.S. and an M.A in Communication Sciences and Disorders and has worked as a Speech and Language Pathologist for 20 years in the Duluth/Superior area.  His attraction to clay started in high school and has been a source of great pleasure ever since.  Adam loves to experiment with all phases of the creative process and loves to try new things “just to see what happens”. He enjoys working with/teaching/learning from with other clay enthusiasts and derives satisfaction from both the process and the product!

Adam Swanson
"In my work I deconstruct the ideas that are part of our childhood and adult culture. My work also addresses the future, fragility of the human presence, perseverance of nature and underlying threads of danger that underpin societies. I use my work to encourage thought and interest in science. I received my BFA at U of MN Duluth and have painted and studied in Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific. After three years in New York and a couple stints in Antarctica, I have called Duluth, MN home since 2008. I paint full-time, am married and a father of two. More of my work can be seen on my website www.adamswanson.com."

Chrissy Valento
Chrissy Valento is proud to call Duluth home for the past 24 years.  She has a husband, Rick, two children, and a big dog named Nelson Greensboro.  Chrissy has been teaching in the Duluth Public Schools for 12 years, and enjoys her job immensely.  She has also been a summer art camp instructor for the DAI for the past four years.  Chrissy was trained in the Leonard Bernstein Artful Learning Model in 2005-2008, and later went on to teach teachers in the Artful Learning Model in both FL and IL.  Chrissy considers herself a life-long learner, and is always willing to try new art forms, including taking many classes with her children at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and Peachie’s Stained Glass in Superior.  Chrissy enjoys felting, glass work, mosaic tiling, and creating cards out of all types of recycled papers.  

Amy Varsek
Stay tuned for her bio!

Bill van Gilder
Stay tuned for his bio!

Bill Wise
Bill Wise was born and raised in Duluth Minnesota, where he still resides and finds inspiration in the people and landscape. When it comes to art, Bill indicates two passions: "First, I love to draw and paint; second, I love to teach others how to draw or paint". Bill's paintings often focus on portraits and candid compositions involving people in action or thoughtful activities. Stressing thin washes of color and playing with hard edges, Bill aims to create a fresh painterly look. Bill is a Member of the Lake Superior Watercolor Society, Artists of Minnesota, Arrowhead Art Club, and smaller groups with fellow painters in the area and his work can be viewed at www.williamwiseart.com