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MIAD Fine Art alums receive state, regional Emerging Artist Awards

Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) Fine Art alums Phoenix S. Brown ’19 and Erin Krembs ’14 each received a 2024 Emerging Artist Award this spring from a prestigious state or regional organization.

Brown received the Emerging Artist Award as part of the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Awards (WVAAA), which “recognize educators, writers, visual artists, exhibitions and advocates in our creative communities.” At MIAD, Brown had a focus on painting and a minor in Art History.

Erin Krembs ’14 received the Emerging Artist Award from the Racine Art Museum (RAM) as part of the 2024 RAM Artist Fellowships and Emerging Artist Award, which “recognize artists at all stages of their careers creating exceptional work in all media.” Krembs majored in Sculpture at MIAD.

Both artists received cash awards. As a figurative artist who uses the animal form to convey emotion and conscious thought, Krembs says, “The grant will allow me to explore some new materials I have been interested in working with, like velvet and alpaca mohair. I have a few pieces I am already excited about having in the exhibit like Calliope, my two-headed foal, but the real exciting part about the long timeframe for the fellowship is that the artists have this time to create…. I’m excited for the new pieces that are yet to exist as more than an idea. I have a life-size jaguar in mind!”

Krembs’ work will be featured during exhibitions of the RAM awardees from August 20 – November 22, 2025, at RAM’s Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts.

Brown says she “looks forward to using the funds [from her award] for studio overhead costs and materials.” She also will show three paintings in a group exhibition in May at Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY) and participate in a painting residency at Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) in December.

As described in the WVAA press release, Brown is an “interdisciplinary artist and musician who uses painting and drawing techniques to understand her personal narrative and inner power while subverting European ideals of nature, darkness and figuration.” In addition to grants and residencies received after graduation, while a student at MIAD she was an artist-in-residence at Yale Norfolk School of Art (Norfolk, CT). Brown has exhibited widely, has work in New American Paintings and is senior curator at Milwaukee’s Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums.

Krembs is a middle school Family and Consumer Science and Business educator who says, “I especially love teaching my 7th and 8th graders in their sewing units! I have never stopped making art and continue to work in my own studio all summer long and in the evenings during the school year.”

She adds, “I became a first-time homeowner in 2022 and have dedicated my entire attic space to be my own home studio. It’s a dream I worked for, and it’s come true with the dedication and hard work I’ve put in! Now I have a wonderful home and a lovely space to create in and can work toward even more of my long-term goals.”

At the April WVAA awards ceremony, an exhibition award was given for Art Against the Odds: Wisconsin Prison Art, which was co-curated by the Portrait Society Gallery Director Debra Brehmer and Gallery Manager Paul Salsieder. MIAD debuted and hosted the exhibition in January 2023, which was viewed by more than 7,000 people.

Follow Erin Krembs on Facebook at Hoof and Horn. Follow Phoenix S. Brown on Instagram @phoenixisphoenixisphoenix

Learn more about MIAD’s Fine Art + New Studio Practice major.


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