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You Are Here

Local creators featured in NWTC Artisan and Business Center’s residency exhibit

Written by Kira Doman

Photos by Chris Rugowski

(From left) Kendra Bilotto, Sadie Cheyenne, Binky Heverly, Tania Nelson and Chris Rugowski. The five artists are a part of NWTC Artisan and Business Center’s residency program, and put on the “You Are Here” exhibit. Scott Nohr Photo

Over the last century-plus, the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) has offered its students a variety of opportunities to help them succeed in whatever endeavor they choose.

In 2020, the NWTC Green Bay branch expanded yet again with the opening of the Artisan Center Residency Program, which aims to give artists the chance to discover art in a new way.

The 2022 cohort includes five artists – Kendra Bilotto, Sadie Cheyenne, Miwako “Binky” Heverly, Tania Nelson and Chris Rugowski – with varying mediums.

As the 2022 program comes to an end, nearly 80 pieces of work from cohort artists are now on display in an exhibit titled “You Are Here” at The Art Garage, located at 1400 Cedar St. in Green Bay.

Artisan Center Operations Coordinator Carrie Dorski said the college wanted to give artists complete freedom to create their own made-from-scratch art, while at the same time, receive hands-on experience in multiple aspects of the art world.

She said artists had full use of the facility throughout the year at no charge.

Dorski, along with Dean of Regional Learning Jan Scoville, said NWTC created the residency program to lead artists through the entire process of creating, showing and selling their work.

“Most artists in residence are one person who integrate themselves into an established art studio or art school, but then they teach classes for other people,” Scoville said. “So they’re already somewhat established in their career, and we want to arm them with all of the information, tools and support that they need.”

The group of artists said it took them about a week of back-and-forth conversations to figure out how to link all the pieces together before they landed on “You Are Here.”

“The idea is we’re all on our separate paths, but every now and then we intersect,” Nelson said. “The opening of the show and the show itself will be one of those points where we’re all intersecting as artists with the community. You are here.”

Nelson said when she applied for the program, she aspired to find a way to mix photography and mixed-media arts, and with her time in the NWTC residency program, she was able to do just that.

“I hope people will view photography differently,” Nelson said. “I’ve printed them in acrylic paint and then I’ve added some mixed media to them, so I think people will look at it and their world of photography will open up a little bit. But the photos themselves, they’re very much the everyday things.”

Cheyenne said she is a self-taught painter.

After being accepted into the 2022 cohort, Cheyenne said she began immersing and educating herself in the Oneida culture, as she said it is a big part of her identity.

She said turtles hold a deep significance and value to the Oneida Nation, tracing back that tribe’s creation story.

Cheyenne said when she was able to find turtle shells for sale, she knew they’d make the perfect canvas.

“Hopefully when people see these shells, they’ll be able to recognize the creation story and then do their own research outside of it,” she said. “Maybe it’ll inspire people to get in touch with their own cultural backgrounds.”

As artists in the 2022 cohort show off their work at The Art Garage, now through the end of the month, work is already starting on next year’s program.

Aspiring or experienced artists can apply by July 22 to be a part of the fourth Artist in Residence cohort by visiting the NWTC Artisan Center website.

Alexis Arnold, owner of Artless Bastard in De Pere, looking at Tania Nelson’s artwork. Chris Rugowski Photos
Miwako ‘Binky’ Heverly shows off one of her pottery pieces.
Melanie Riley and Maureen Rugowski review Chris Rugowski, Chicken or The Egg Photography’s work.
Mike Riley signing the “You Are Here” vinyl graphic at the opening reception on Thursday, June 30.
Community members gathered together on Thursday, June 30, to celebrate and view the “You Are Here” exhibit, put on by five local artists.
Leah Norem and Tania Nelson exchanging artist trading cards at the opening reception.
An event guest viewing Sadie Cheyenne’s work.
Artist Kendra Bilotto posing with her friend Luann in front of her artwork.
An event guest viewing Tania Nelson’s artwork.
Beth Kowalski pondering over the artists’ works at the opening reception at The Art Garage.
Sadie Cheyenne with one of her turtle shells. Scott Nohr Photo
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