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  • attended West Bend East High School, West Bend, WI
  • graduated 1996, BFA Sculpture
  • currently Executive Director of the Milwaukee Artists Resource Network [MARN]
Melissa Dorn Richards

Melissa Dorn Richards

Melissa Dorn Richards knows the meaning of community. Since graduating from MIAD, she has spent a considerable amount of her life supporting and engaging in the arts. From creating murals with children in their neighborhoods and schools to helping professional artists succeed and network through the Milwaukee Artists Resource Network [MARN], Dorn Richards understands the value and power in bringing a community together through the arts.

Q. What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?

A. As a child I wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer. At that point I don’t think I knew what an artist was or that it was a career. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I started to think seriously about being an artist or having a career in the arts.


Melissa Dorn Richards

Melissa Dorn Richards

Q. What is your first memorable experience with art and design?

A. I didn’t have an art class until I was in third grade, and I remember sitting across from my best friend watching her draw a lollipop tree (you know the kind, a brown rectangle with a big green circle on top), and thinking that’s not what a tree looks like and mine won’t look like that either.
Q. How did your MIAD education affect where you are today?

A. EVERY opportunity I’ve had since graduating from MIAD can be traced back to either the connections I made at MIAD or the incredible Career Services office. I still receive the Opportunities Bulletin via email, and I have my resume on file with Career Services. At MIAD, I learned the tools to practice art and make a living at it. It wasn’t until I graduated that I learned that not all colleges taught the business side of art.

Lure VIII, Lure III, part of a series inspired by fishing lures, oil

Lure VIII, Lure III, part of a series inspired by fishing lures, oil

Q. What would you tell a high school student who is considering attending MIAD now that you have experienced life after graduation?

A. Take advantage of every opportunity and resource that MIAD has to offer including the facility, your peers, and Career Services. Learn everything that you can about your major and the tools you need to practice your art.

Q. If you had to sum up your job in a single sentence, what would it be?

A. I’ve created a career out of a variety of interests; it includes being the Executive Director of Milwaukee Artists Resource Network [MARN], a working artist, and teaching art through various nonprofit groups.

Q. What are your goals for the future, in art and design and in life?

A. I’ve been focusing on painting, and plan to get back into sculpture, which was my major at MIAD.

Lure XIV, oil

Lure XIV, oil

Selected Exhibitions

  • Michael Lord Gallery, Milwaukee, WI [2004]
  • Franklin Woods Gallery + Studio, Baileys Harbor, WI [2004]
  • KM Art, Milwaukee, WI [2004]
  • Frank Allen Gallery, Glendale, WI [2004]
  • Chicago Arts Festival, Chicago, IL [2003-04]

Selected Teaching Experience + Arts Administration

  • MARN Executive Director, WI [2005]
  • MARN Board Member, WI [2004]
  • Riverwest Artists Association ArtWalk Coordinator + Board Member, WI [1996-2001]
  • La Escuela Fratney Resident Artist, WI [2004]
  • ArtWorks for Milwaukee, Lead Artist, WI [2004]
  • Badger Association of the Blind + Visually Impaired, Resident Artist, WI [2002-03]