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Women artists, writers close out 2016 residency season

By Ruth Nerhaugen


The final group of artists in the 2016 residency season traveled from as far as New York, California, Arizona and France to spend the month at the Anderson Center.

“It’s hard to believe that the residency season is almost over,” said Executive Director Christopher Burawa. “It’s exciting to meet all these new people who are working on projects, creating new work ….”

“It’s a little bittersweet to say goodbye each month,” he added, but “We look forward to bringing them back for our outreach programs.”

As for October, Burawa added, “This is really a powerhouse month. We have five remarkable women artists ending the year. They represent perfectly the caliber of emerging and established talent that we have seen all year long.”

Tower will continue to be an active place after the residency season, he said. In addition to the “Souls on Fire” art exhibit that opens Friday and runs through Nov. 18, there also will be a public poetry reading on Nov. 11 and the Holiday Celebration of the Arts on Dec. 10.

Joyce Sutphen, poet

Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, winner of numerous honors including the Minnesota Book Award and several fellowships, is in Red Wing at the start of a fall sabbatical from teaching and committee work at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. She has had numerous works published, including several books by Red Dragonfly Press in Red Wing and dozens of individual poems in books and broadsides, plus she has undertaken six music commissions.

While at Tower View, Sutphen plans to write a series of poems in response to events of the past few years, including the onset of an illness and the death of her father. “I have always said that the Anderson Center is the best place for me to work.” On previous visits she completed a couple of “keeper” poems a day.

Community service: Red Wing Women’s Network

Sara Novic, fiction writer

Sara Novic, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is an award-winning fiction writer who has taught writing at East Coast schools. Fluent in American Sign Language, she has been involved in translation efforts involving ASL and English. She has had a novel — “Girl at War” — and several fiction and nonfiction pieces published.

Novic is in the process of writing her second novel, which focuses mainly on deaf characters and their stories. Among other themes, she is exploring language rights — speaking and being educated in one’s language of choice. Translating ASL to English is another challenge she is tackling.

Community service: Metro Deaf School, St. Paul, and St. Catherine’s University

Ploy Pirapokin, fiction writer

Educated in California, Ploy Pirapokin of San Francisco currently is a fiction instructor for emerging writers at Brown University, R.I., and for The Writing Salon in Berkeley, Cal., plus she lectures on creative writing in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, and she has been awarded several fellowships.

While at Tower View, Pirapokin hopes to finish a second draft of her novel, working title “The Mainlanders,” which is set in the near future. It’s the story of three architects hired to build a theme park and its potential impact on the local community. The story is inspired by recent events in Hong Kong and its relationship to mainland Chinese.

Community service: Northfield High School

Paula Rice, potter

Paula Rice of Flagstaff, Ariz., is a professor emeritus at Northern Arizona University. She holds a master of fine arts degree in ceramic sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The recipient of many awards and prizes, she has presented many workshops and lectures, including sessions in China and Australia. Her work has been exhibited widely.

During October, she plans to create a series of small ceramic wall pieces and reliefs reflecting her continuing theme of “the nature and mystery of the cosmos and our human place in it.” Rice is an amateur astronomer and anticipates that observing the Minnesota skies at night will feed her work.

Community service: Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis

Nina Tomas, painter

Painter Nina Tomas from Marseille, France, sought a residency at the Anderson Center because she sees it as a logical continuation of her current project, “Travelling Wound.” It is an evolving series that will include a least 10 same-size paintings that will “plunge the viewer into an independent universe.”

Her goal is to create a dreamlike voyage, and Tomas is looking for new inspiration from a place she doesn’t know and natural surroundings she’s not used to seeing.

A French-Luxembourgian, Tomas was educated in France and has exhibited widely in that part of the world, including solo exhibitions in both countries.

Community service: HOPE Coalition