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Tower View kicks off '14 residency season

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By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor

Artists, writers and scholars from Austria, Australia, France, Romania, Russia and Sweden, along with individuals from across the United States will spend time at the Anderson Center during its 19th season of offering residencies.

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One of the largest artist communities in the Midwest, the center brings in talented people who work in all forms of artistic endeavor from May through October during their two-week and four-week retreats at Tower View.

The individuals work on their projects, get to know each other in the interdisciplinary setting, and do outreach in Red Wing and surrounding communities.

This year the Anderson Center received 217 applications for the limited number of openings, according to Director Robert Hedin, “making this one of the most coveted and competitive programs of its kind in the country.

“The number of applications from overseas more than doubled,” he added, “as did the number of applications from scholars.”

The residency program also engages in several artist and scholarship exchange programs. In addition, this year the month of June is dedicated to deaf American artists whose native or adoptive language is American Sign Language.

“To say our residency program, the core program of the Anderson Center, is healthy and thriving is, to say the least, an understatement,” Hedin said.

May residents follow.

Greg Ruffing

Photographer

The 100-mile garage sale this weekend was one of the attractions compelling Greg Ruffing to seek a May residency at the Anderson Center. The Chicago photographer has been photographing yard sales in communities around the country in recent years “as part of a multi-faceted project exploring yard sales as social and cultural phenomena,” he wrote.

“At play are our processes of assigning value to material items, as well as the concept of planned obsolescence that contributes to cycles of accumulating and discarding consumer goods.” Yard sales, he added, “represent our own grassroots economies.” In addition to photographing sales, he also interviews sellers and buyers for his project, which he hopes will include a book and an exhibition.

Ruffing graduated with a degree in photography from Kent State University. His work has been widely exhibited and featured in publications, and he has been a visiting artist/guest lecturer at several universities and art institutes.

Community service: Red Wing Photography Club

Dina Miliga

Ceramic artist

A ceramic artist from Latvia, Dina Miliga will spend her month at Tower View studying the area’s history and then creating larger scale works in pottery. She explained that she looks for signs and marks from the past, and connects them by creating new works that leave signs for the future. She hopes to include both hand-shaped forms and column forms shaped on a potter’s wheel.

Miliga, who is living in France this year, studied at several art schools, and received a degree from the Art Academy of Latvia’s ceramic department. She has been exhibiting in Europe and beyond for the past 10 years and has also curated shows and conducted symposiums — most recently a session titled “LANDescape” in Romania.

Community service: Tower View Alternative High School and Northern Clay Center.

Bernard Grant

Fiction writer

Bernard Grant was awarded the Deborah Tall Residency Fellowship from the Ranier Writing Workshop of Pacific Lutheran University to spend the month at the Anderson Center. It is awarded each year to enhance the literary career of a student. He will spend the time working on a linked short story collection focusing on characters who are in a state of limbo between childhood and adulthood.

A Virginia native who grew up in Texas and earned a master’s degree from Pacific Lutheran, Grant has been working as a caregiver for adults with developmental disabilities. He interned for three months as an editor for Goodtherapy.com.

Community service: Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical

Peter Pearson

Children’s literature writer

Minneapolis resident Peter Pearson will focus during May on revising his novel, “Max and the Everywhere Machine,” for middle grade students. He described it as the story of a boy, a marvelous contraption and people who aren’t what they seem. He received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant to take a leave of absence from work and focus solely on his writing.

Pearson holds degrees from St. Olaf College and Hamline University. He currently teaches creative writing classes for inmates at three Minnesota prisons, and previously taught writing at Stillwater Prison. In addition, he works as a brand marketing copywriter. Two of his works are scheduled for publication.

Community service: Goodhue County Adult Detention Center

Alexandra Sargent Capps

Costume designer

The great-granddaughter of Alexander P. Anderson — founder of what is today the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies — Alexandra Sargent Capps will spend May working on a book she is writing, “The History of Art and Fashion.” She wants to “place the history of fashion into a rich, multi-dimensional context in which the stylistic elements of fashion will be compared to those of fine art, decorative art, and architecture.”

Capps is trained as a stage costume designer and currently teaches at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. The recipient of numerous awards for her teaching and design skills, she has also presented at conferences and exhibitions, and has done costume design for dozens of productions over the past 25 years. She has long recognized the need for the book she is writing. “Contemporary fashion captures the popular imagination and has a great deal of cultural relevance and power,” Capps said.

Community service: May 14 at Red Wing Women’s Network

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