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October at Tower View has international perspectives

By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor

The October residents at the Anderson Center include a ceramic artist from Finland — the first residency from that country — and a group of writers and book artists from several states who have been influenced by foreign travels to Palestine, Morocco, South Africa and other parts of the world.

The group brings the artist community’s 18th residency season to a close.

Because many programs have begun their fall sessions, the visiting writers and artists will have an opportunity to do outreach at schools, civic organizations, the Minnesota Correctional Facility and the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis.

Marjo Rikka Kilgast

Ceramic artist

A graduate of HAMK University of Applied Design in Hameenlinna, Finland, Marjo Kilgast has a bachelor of design degree in glass and ceramics. She previously studied painting and photography at Pekka Halonen Academy and currently is an assistant in the glass and ceramics design department at HAMK.

Kilgast combines those skills, using photographs she has taken of people and nature for her inspiration, then works with clay to create sculptures — “a graphic method on clay,” she said. Kilgast has been exploring the theme of death and empty shells.

“Now I want to work the theme of life,” she said: “Feelings you get from other people.”

Community service: Northern Clay Center

Beth Baker

Nonfiction writer

Her experiences in Palestine and her ancestors’ experiences as settlers in the Minnesota territory will occupy Beth Baker during her month in Red Wing. She is in the midst of writing essays for a memoir that explores the parallel experiences and said she hopes to complete two pieces that are set in Minnesota.

Baker studied English and writing in Chicago and in Missoula, Mont., where she now lives. She also has been educated in conflict resolution, and is a master naturalist. She has been a teacher in addition to being a writer, and has been published in a variety of media including podcasts and blogs in addition to journals and an arts website.

Community service: Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical

Stacy Elko

Book artist

Stacy Elko from Lubbock, Texas, was raised in northeast Ohio but spent several years in Morocco, initially as a member of the Peace Corps. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts and printmaking, and now teaches at Texas Tech. Her work has been exhibited widely.

While at Tower View, Elko will focus on creating a series of artist books using handmade paper and a variety of printmaking processes. She uses paper casting, relief printing, digital transfers and photo lithography to create books, which will be influenced by the new environment here.

Community service: Red Wing High School

Greta Schuler

Nonfiction writer

The plight of women who survive and support their families in Zimbabwe by going to Johannesburg to become sex workers will be the focus of Greta Schuler’s time at Tower View.

She has lived in both places, and is writing essays about the lives of these vulnerable women. Schuler has been awarded a grant to return to South Africa later this year to continue her work examining lives “led mostly out of sight.”

A resident of St. Louis, Schuler was educated at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Claremont McKenna College in California, and te American University in Washington, D.C., plus she holds a master’s degree in forced migration from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Her work has received numerous awards.

Community service: Red Wing Women’s Network

Tim Nolan


Minneapolis attorney Tim Nolan, who has been writing poems for nearly 40 years, will spend two weeks at the Anderson Center writing poems for his third book, “The Field.” He received an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to work on the manuscript, attend a writing event in Boston and do readings at 10 outstate locations.

Nolan studied English at the University of Minnesota and Columbia University and continues publishing and teaching poetry in addition to running his law practice. While here he will be writing poems based in memory and his dreams, plus he will be exploring ideas related to quantum theory — from a nonscientific perspective.

Community service: Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing

Robin Underdahl

Fiction writer

A resident of Dallas, Texas, Robin Underdahl grew up in Winona and writes stories that unfold in this part of the country. While in Red Wing for two weeks, she wants to “re-saturate” her imagination and drive around the countryside to better envision scenes. She also will do research on Norwegian immigrant life, which is part of the story.

Underdahl studied fiction writing at Columbia University and psychology at Duke University. She has taught and mentored writers and worked as a free-lancer. Her recent essay “The Lovely Maiden Jumps into the Waters,” about Winona, was listed as notable in “2011 Best American Essays.”

Community service: Red Wing High School