Thanks to a grant from the Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation, the biennial Racine Art Museum fellowships provide support for the professional development of the community’s artists and showcases the diversity and vitality of the Racine/Kenosha visual arts community.
This year’s RAM Artist Fellowship Exhibition 2019 will open Aug. 23 and will remain on display for all to enjoy until Nov. 16. at RAM’s Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, located at 2519 Northwestern Ave. on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
The series of concurrent solo shows with the work of four area artists that were recipients of RAM Artist Fellowships in 2018. With that honor comes a $2,500 stipend for each recipient that may be used for any expenses that assist in the development of new work and advance their artistic careers.
Representing a diverse range of styles and media, the current fellowship recipients are Alex Mandli, Crystal Neubauer, Marilyn Propp and Amy Misurelli Sorensen.
Born in 1952 in Racine, Alex Mandli has lived in southeastern Wisconsin for most of his life. At an early age, he became aware of something called “mud crack”—a crack formed in viscous mud beds in the course of drying and shrinking. Mandli’s PF Flyers left footprints in the mud, and after a few days, he could hold that footprint in his hand.
However, it was a ceramics class in his first year of college at the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh that really sparked his interest in pottery. The ceramics professor—Paul Donhauser, winner of the Grand Prize at the International Ceramics Competition in Faenza, Italy— opened Mandli’s eyes to ceramic techniques, materials, and most importantly, the joy of working with clay.
In Mandli’s second year of college, he was hired to work in the college’s ceramic studio. During that year, Warren MacKenzie, a world-renowned Minnesota potter, had a one-week stint as an artist-in-residence. In talking and working with MacKenzie, Mandli realized he might want to be a studio potter, too.
After completing his BA in Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Mandli began teaching art in area schools, something he continued to do on and off for 37 years. In addition, he has been an artist-in-residence in numerous schools, receiving two Wisconsin Arts Board Grants as an artist-in-residence.
In 1978, Mandli built a salt kiln and established his first studio in Kenosha. To continue his development as a potter, he worked intermittently with ceramics professor Phil Powell at Carthage College for over 20 years, eventually earning his master’s degree in 2004.
In 1988, Mandli moved to Racine and created a studio in his home, where he continues to live and work. Mandli’s 40 years as a potter has led to his work being exhibited in many juried exhibits and galleries around the U.S. and in other countries. Particularly notable exhibits have been the three times—1999, 2000, and 2007—his work has been selected to be part of the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC.
A Racine resident, Crystal Neubauer seeks to create a dialogue around the issues of self worth, identity and the perception of human value through the use of salvaged and found objects like old books, packaging material, and the everyday detritus normally viewed as trash. She sees these items as a metaphor for our lives and seeks to bring them together in a way that opens the viewer to a deeper experience of personal redemption where every part of who you are is embraced and nurtured as important to the whole. Whether rendered in a three-dimensional assemblage fashion, or a two-dimensional picture plane, her fascination begins with found papers. Neubauer calls her process intuitive, but it all boils down to learning to trust and become open to the voice inside; the one that can guide creative decisions and bring about much richer works of art.
Neubauer currently has work represented by galleries in Seattle, Wash.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Chicago, Ill. In 2018, she participated in the Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair in Chicago as a guest of an international gallery. Neubauer has authored a book on the art of collage, The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating with Paper and Glue. She has also written articles for and been featured in numerous other books, publications, and podcasts. Neubauer has a video series on the art of collage, and teaches workshops nationwide as well as in her own studio.
Raised in Upstate New York, Marilyn Propp is an artist/educator whose paintings, drawings, and large-scale relief prints on handmade paper have been exhibited in museums, and commercial and university galleries throughout the US and Mexico. Recent exhibitions include Pulped Under Pressure; a two-person show, Into the Deep: Fragments and Reflections at the Kenosha Public Museum; and Distance at the Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in New York, NY.
She attended Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Brooklyn Museum Art School, Provincetown Workshop, and San Francisco Art Institute’s pre-MFA program, and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Residencies/Visiting Artist positions include Jentel, Wyo.; Cill Rialaig, Ireland; and Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico; in addition to universities in the Midwest and Southeast.
Propp has received numerous grants and awards, including the Illinois Arts Council Finalist Award and an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant. Her work is included in many public and private collections including the Summer Palace, Saudi Arabia as well as the Hallmark Collection and the AT&T Collection, Kansas City, Missouri. She has been a panelist and lecturer throughout the country, and is currently adjunct faculty at Carthage College in Kenosha.
Her curatorial project Materiality and the Layered (eye) was exhibited at the Evanston Art Center in 2016, and included a panel discussion and a lecture on the history of collage, entitled Collage as Social, Political, and Personal Expression.
In 1990, David Jones and Propp founded Anchor Graphics, Chicago. She relocated in 2016 to Kenosha, where she co-founded the Center for Collaborative Research. CCR’s Press on Wheels takes printmaking and papermaking into the community throughout the Midwest region.
Amy Misurelli Sorensen
Amy Misurelli Sorensen is a contemporary artist, teacher, and curator who lives and works in Southeastern Wisconsin. She has 10 years teaching experience at the college level. After fulfilling a one-year position as Visiting Artist/Instructor in Drawing at Colorado State University, she moved back to Wisconsin to accept a more vocational teaching position at the elementary level. She has been a Visiting Artist at several other national institutions including the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Mich. and the Loveland Art Museum, Loveland, Colo. As a professional artist, her largest and most recent exhibition to date was Between The Floorboards with fellow feminist artist Miriam Beerman at Montgomery College, Silver Spring, Md.
Showing across the country and multiple international artist residencies have challenged
Sorensen, and have given her an unrelenting curiosity for historical and contemporary art. She has also curated and co-curated exhibitions as the former Gallery Director and Curator at The University of Wisconsin-Parkside Galleries. Sorensen engages deeply with art and the practicalities of how art gets shown and made. She is committed to curating and exhibiting her work in provocative exhibitions that challenge visual culture and explore issues in society, politics, and art.
Sorensen holds her MFA in Painting and Drawing from American University, Washington, DC and her BA with concentrations in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Ind. and The LGBTQ Center of Colorado.