The Region 2 Arts Council is excited to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 Artist Fellowship, awarded to Bemidji-based painter Paula J. Swenson, and Bemidji State University poet and professor Dr. Carol Ann Russell.
After graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Paula Swenson struggled to find her own artistic voice. It took her many years, many workshops and many teachers. Around 1991 Swenson found her way to the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota. There she found support and fellowship and discovered not how to paint but how she paints. After finding a subject, Swenson researches that subject, gathers resource materials and meditates on what it all means. By using symbols and colors and shapes Swenson tells stories or portrays a landscape all the while being mindful of unintended “happy accidents”. Stars turn into birds, trees into creatures, moons into fishing holes. Swenson calls her style Surrealistic for lack of a better term. In Swenson’s words “Mostly I want my paintings to make people happy, including me.”
Dr. Carol Ann Russell is the author of four books of poetry, including The Red Envelope (Florida 1985), Silver Dollar (New Mexico 1995), and Gypsy Taxi (Nebraska 2005). Russell was chosen to receive the 1999 Distinguished Alumni Award by St. Cloud State University, and has taught creative writing at Bemidji State University since 1988, where she is Professor of English. Russell’s poetry has been published in over a hundred literary journal and her poems have been included in more than 13 anthologies representing poets from Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and the Pacific Northwest. Russell has received many grants, awards, and residencies including the Jerome Foundation, the American Academy in Rome and Villa Vergiliana, Italy, the Australian Centre at Melbourne University in Australia, Studium Scholar at St. Benedict’s Monastery, and the Ragdale Foundation. Poet Carol Ann Russell was elected to P.E.N. International in New York City in 1993.
Congratulations to Paula Swenson and Dr. Carol Ann Russell-Wething!
The Region 2 Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award is made possible through the generous support of the McKnight Foundation.