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Assistant Professor awarded Mary L. Nohl Fellowship

Janelle VanderKelen

Janelle VanderKelen

Janelle VanderKelen, an assistant professor at MIAD, has been awarded a 2023 Mary L. Nohl Fellowship in the Established Artist category. The Nohl Fellowship, funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund and Joy Engine, and administered by the Lynden Sculpture Garden, selected four other artists: Mikal Floyd-Pruitt in the Established Artist category and Siara Berry, Fatima Laster and Alayna N. Pernell in the Emerging Artist category.

The Nohl Fellowship recognizes Milwaukee-area visual artists who are “making, or will make, significant contributions to their fields and to our community” and selects five artists for the fellowship each year. In the Established category, two artists are each awarded $35,000 in unrestricted funds, as well as a $5,000 professional development and production budget. Nohl Fellows will participate in professional development opportunities, from studio visits to public programs. At the culmination of the fellowship in June 2024, all five artists will exhibit at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art.

VanderKelen, whose artistic practice focuses on experimental time-based media and intermedia installations, uses stop-motion and time-lapse animation to “make the movement and agency of plants, fungi, and geologies visible.” The product of these speculative films offer “alternatives to current unsustainable systems of ecological relation and use humor or disgust to decenter how humans view their role in an ecosystem,” she says. VanderKelen plans to use the funding and support from the fellowship to continue production on a series of experimental animation films exploring the agency of plants and other “inanimate” beings. She also hopes to grow artistically during the 18-month fellowship by integrating different facets of her creative practice, which include sculpture, performance and ceramics, into her time-based media production.

In addition to teaching courses in First-Year Experience, Art History and New Studio Practice: Fine Arts, VanderKelen also co-curates aCinema, a monthly screening series of work by global moving image artists, with Takahiro Suzuki, adjunct instructor in NSP: Fine Arts and Photography & Digital Media Lab Technician. Curation of time-based media is an aspect of her creative practice, explains VanderKelen. Screenings for aCinema take place at Woodland Pattern Book Center from September to May, generally on the first Friday of each month at 7 p.m.

“A creative career is incredibly rewarding, but it is a marathon, not a sprint,” says VanderKelen. She encourages MIAD students and young creatives to explore many things, even those that do not directly relate to their creative practice. “You are a whole person,” she affirms, advocating for creatives to care for themselves mentally, physically and emotionally and to take breaks as needed. “You are still an artist when you need to focus on other things and may not be able to be in the studio as much.”

VanderKelen joins other MIAD colleagues and alumni who were previously involved with the Nohl Fellowship. Most recently, Professor Jason S. Yi, who teaches New Studio Practice: Fine Arts at MIAD, was awarded the 2022 Nohl Fellowship and will participate in a June 2023 culmination exhibition at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art. MIAD alumni Emily Balknap ’07 (Integrated Studio Arts), Melissa Dorn ’96 (Sculpture and Illustration, currently an interim full-time instructor at MIAD) and David Najib Kasir ’01 (Painting) were 2023 finalists in the Established Artist category, and Anamarie Edwards ’22 (NSP: Fine Arts) and Chris Regner ’13 (Drawing) were 2023 finalists in the Emerging Artist category.

Keep up with Janelle’s work on her website, learn more about the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship and explore MIAD’s faculty!


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