A Residency Success with a Familiar Face

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on November 23rd, 2022

Although I’ve already passed my one-year “workaversary” at the Woodson Art Museum, it was just earlier this month that I completed the organization of my first artist residency here with Las Vegas-based Birds in Art artist Sean Russell. Sean is a Wausau native and Wausau East High School graduate. So, attending the Birds in Art opening weekend festivities in September and returning for a residency felt like a double homecoming for him.

(left) Students sit on the floor in a gallery surrounding Birds in Art artist Sean Russell as he discusses his artwork. (Right) Sean Russell stands next to a screen with projected images of his mixed-media artworks

During his residency, Sean worked with students from four different local schools, talking about his artwork, professional career, and experiences in college. Students were eager to hear about Sean’s studio processes and how he became a tenure-track Professor and Program Director in the Fine Arts Department at the College of Southern Nevada. After leaving Wausau, Sean studied visual art at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and earned an MFA from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was awarded a prestigious Joan Mitchell Grant for Painters and Sculptors in 2005. As you can imagine, Sean’s wealth of knowledge was invaluable for aspiring young artists to hear.

The Museum's lower level gallery filled with tables, art materials, and workshop participants creating their mixed-media artworks.

Two workshop participants sit aside one another working on wooden panels.

In addition to outreach with schools, Sean offered a Guest Artist Talk and a two-day Mixed-Media Workshop, which exceeded the expectations of the twenty delighted participants. Sean’s work incorporates high-contrast black-and-white images, which are transferred onto a surface using acrylic gel medium after being printed on a laser-jet printer. Sean instructed participants through this process, encouraging experimentation and play. He also provided individual feedback to each artist, helping all achieve their visions.

You can see the mixed-media artworks created by workshop participants in the Museum’s lower-level classroom, on view now through December 11.

Workshop participants transferring images onto mixed-media panels with various different colors of underpainting

Two images transferred onto panels with green and orange paint

Sean’s enthusiasm and dedication to every aspect of the residency made my job easy and enjoyable. I look forward to coordinating more artist residencies in the future, bringing new – and familiar – artists to the community to take on different types of projects. I can’t wait to see the Museum’s Glass Box Studio filled with happy workshop participants next fall.

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