Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
New Artists-in-Residence 
The Bemis Center is proud to nurture the growth of outstanding creative communities, both worldwide and here in the Midwest. This month we welcome the following artists-in-residence:



Mike Calway-Fagen (San Diego, CA) earned his BFA in Sculpture from the University Of Tennessee and his MFA from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions including at the Hudson D. Walker Gallery (Provincetown, MA), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. He has also been a resident at the Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA) and has received awards from both the Joan Mitchell and Jerome Foundations.  


Denise Chapman  earned her BA in theatre from Creighton University and an MFA in theatre from the Theatre Conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Currently director of education and outreach at the Omaha Community Playhouse, she has performed with Qwest Educational Programs (now B.O.O.M) touring elementary and middle schools in the greater Chicago land area and worked as a solo performing artist.  


Devel Crisp is a creative consultant at the Clouds and Gutters of my Mind and a teaching artist at the Nebraska Writer's Collective, where he teaches poetry, spoken word and slam to students at public schools and coaches teams for the "Louder Than A Bomb" High School Poetry Competition. He is also a member of the Wordsmiths, spoken word edutainers based in Omaha, and a co-founder of Tapestries, a monthly spoken word showcase weaving the words and stories of poets, storytellers, spoken word artists and rappers from diverse backgrounds and styles.



Noah Doely (Cedar Falls, IA)  received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego. He has exhibited at the Steve Turner, Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), the Des Moines Art Center and 12 Gallery (Berlin, Germany) Doely's work has also been covered by Juxtapoz Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the Des Moines Register. He is an assistant professor of photography at the University of Northern Iowa.  


Angela Drakeford received her BFA in sculpture from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A former fellow at the Union for Contemporary Arts,  she took part in the Market Place of Community Values group exhibition at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, NE and was featured in the solo show I Can Grow Tall at Carver Bank last year. She currently works as an artist mentor and leads many art workshops for Omaha youth.



Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis (Cincinnati, OH) maintain a studio collaboration through Future Retrieval, which draws on the artists' strong interest in ornamentation, detail, form and natural order. Both earned their BFAs from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFAs from Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. They are currently assistant professors of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the University of Cincinnati.   

Justin Plakas (Athens, GA)

earned his MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens and a BFA from the

University of Maryland Baltimore County in Baltimore. He has exhibited his work at the Mason Murer Gallery (Atlanta, GA), the American Visionary Museum (Baltimore, MD) and Zeitgeist Gallery (Nashville, TN). Plakas has also been a resident at the Hub City Arts Initiative (Spartanburg, SC) and is the recipient of a Wilson Center for the Humanities Grant.


Bemis-UNL Prize MFA Graduate Recipient 

We are pleased to announce that Thomas Lowell Edwards is the first recipient of our annual Bemis-UNL Prize. The prize is awarded to outstanding graduates from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Masters of Fine Arts Program and follows the same guidelines as our internationally recognized Artist-in-Residence program.  


Thomas has been a Windgate Fellow as an artist-in-residence in Jingdezhen, China and received the Baden Württemberg Stipend for Vocationally Qualified People for an internship program in Germany. In its current issue,  

Ceramics Monthly ranks him as Emerging Artist of note.   


We look forward to welcoming Thomas to the Bemis family! 


Alumni Notices 

Calling all alumni! We love hearing from you. Keep us up-to-date on your latest exhibitions, fellowships, projects and publications - as well as any other news you'd like to share by emailing Holly Kranker at:  



Natasha Bowdoin (AIR 2012) is  featured in the group exhibition  PULP Contemporary Cut-Paper

on view through May 17th at Alfred University's Cohen Gallery in Alfred, NY.

Stephanie Syjuco (2013) is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. Stephanie is also the curator for our current exhibition Lossy. which features six former residents and is on view through May 31st.


On the heels of his solo show at VOLTA NY 2014 in the Jarmuschek + Partner gallery in March, Jürgen Wolf (1993) was featured in April's edition of Installation Magazine. Wolf records his manifold states of mind in a dadaist tradition, and one inspirations from this tradition was to mount his own texts and paintings into the "American Sunbather", a popular nudist magazine from the 1950s.  


Our Partners

We're looking forward to the opening of Alternation of Mood on Friday, May 2, at 6:00 pm. The exhibition features works by young artists in the Joslyn Museum's Kent Bellows Mentoring Program, and everyone is invited to view the show, meet the young artists and their mentors, and learn more about this fantastic program. The event takes place at the Kent Bellows Studio (3303 Leavenworth Street), and the evening also includes a fashion show and poetry performance. Congratulations to all these wonderful young artists! Alternation of Mood is open through May 24th. 


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Take Action

Apply Today for
Urban Design Lab for Teens

Urban Design Lab

July 15th - August 1st, August 5th

Tuesdays-Fridays | 1:00 - 5:00 pm


The Bemis Center is proud to offer area teens an opportunity to participate in the new Urban Design Lab, an innovative summer program where participants work with national and local artists to deconstruct, decipher, and reimagine the urban landscape. In recognition of the important work that our teen urbanists will be performing, there is no fee to participate, and all students in the program will be paid minimum wage for their time in the Lab. Space is limited to 20 students, however, so interested teens are encouraged to apply soon.    


Based on a critically-acclaimed model developed at Eyebeam Atelier in New York City, the three-week Urban Design Lab will offer aspiring artists, architects, urban planners, and designers an opportunity to do fun and important research about the place(s) where they live.  


The Urban Design Lab will be led by New York artist Chloë Bass and Omaha artist Teal Gardner, with guest appearances by other artists and urban planning experts.  

Bass is a New York-based artist and public practitioner who past work includes, among other things, the investigation of the inadvertent living space created by a nine-day traffic jam in China.  She has taught at Parsons School of Design, Sotheby's Institute, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Brooklyn College CUNY.   


Gardner is an artist and educator interested in playground design, play spaces, play objects and the environment. She has taught at local Montessori schools and was a 2013 Fellow at the Union Center for Contemporary Art in North Omaha. 


The Urban Design Lab is an intensive program that will run from 1:00 - 5:00 pm, every Tuesday - Friday between July 15th - August 1st, with a follow-on presentation of student work on August 5th. Students will be expected to be present at all times when the Lab is in session.


If you know teens who would be interested in applying for Urban Design Lab, please share this information and direct them to our online application, available at the link below.


The cost of student participation in the Urban Design Lab has been generously underwritten by Lincoln Financial Foundation.  


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Apply Today for
Flock House Design/Build Workshop


Flock House Project: Omaha 

Design/Build Workshops Call for Participants 

May 9th | 5:30 - 7:00 pm

May 10th, 17th, 24th & 31st | 1:00 - 5:00 pm 

Have you ever dreamed of collaborating with an internationally-recognized artist to create new work? Then the Flock House Design/Build Workshops may be right for you!  


Community members have a unique opportunity to work alongside artist Mary Mattingly, whose work has been hailed by the New York Times, PBS's Art 21 and the BBC, to design and construct two Omaha Flock Houses as part of Mattingly's residency at the Bemis Center. For these high-level workshops, we are looking for participants with a diverse cross-section of skills, including artists, activists, urban planners, gardeners, designers, environmentalists, alternative energy experts and urban farmers.  


Participants may elect to attend one or more workshops in consultation with the artist. There is no fee for participation. The cost of the workshops has been generously underwritten by individual donors like you.   


If you would like to contribute to the realization of this extraordinary project, please contact Alex Priest ( or 402.341.7130 x 21.)



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Omaha Gives! 

Give Yourself the Gift of Great Cultural Opportunities  
Omaha Gives! | Thursday, May 21st | Midnight to Midnight


The Bemis Center is embarking on an exciting journey to create new platforms for dialogue between international artists, local artists, and members of our Omaha community.  An important part of this effort can be seen in the two participatory workshops offered in this month's newsletter, where you--and your children--have the remarkable opportunity to jointly author new works of art in partnership with artists from around the globe.


If these kinds of programs--and others like them that the Bemis Center will be rolling out in coming months--help to meet your need for access to vibrant cultural experiences, please consider making a gift to the Bemis Center on May 21, 2014, as part of Omaha Gives!.  Not only will your donation through Omaha Gives! help to fund the creation of these new participatory programs, but every dollar you contribute will go even farther because of the generosity of other donors who will be offering various matching funds on that day. 


Please help the Bemis Center continue to support the work of incredible artists, while also creating new opportunities for interaction between those artists and the Omaha community. Your donation to the Bemis Center on May 21st is a way to give yourself the gift of great cultural opportunities year-round.


Mark your calendars and we thank you for your support! 


For more info on this charitable holiday, visit here.

Public Events and Programs
First Thursday Art Talk
Thursday, May 1st | 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Celebrate May Day with two artists who bring fresh perspectives to contemporary art practice. This month we feature Artists-in-Residence Mia Damberg and Sarah O'Donnell, who, although they create dramatically different work, offer great insights into what is occurring in their respective disciplines today.

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Mia Damberg (Vaasa, Finland) observes the emotional realm of the individual in her work. Her main focal points have included differences and conflicts between the sexes, sexual power, power dynamics within families and romantic relationships, the presence of parents in the lives of children and young people and shame as well as taboos and other fears.

Sarah O'Donnell (Hyde Park, NY) makes installations

that immerse the viewer in a space created with projected light and images. Due to the universally recognizable imagery of these spaces, (a sea-side village, a desert landscape) the installations seem to pivot between the personal memory of a place and the collective memory gained through cultural representation of a place.


Carver Residents Panel Discussion 
Friday, May 30th | 6:00 - 8:00 pm at Carver Bank

Join us to explore the work of Dereck Higgins, Portia Love, Shannon Marie, and Bart Vargas as they finish their year in residence at our new Carver Bank location. The Carver artists will discuss their divergent bodies of work in the fields of poetry, music, and visual art. The panel discussion will accompany the opening of a new exhibition at our Carver Bank location showcasing the artists' work.

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Exhibition Openings

2013 Carver Bank Residents Exhibition 
Opening: Friday, May 30th | 6:00 - 8:00 pm
May 30th - August 16th, 2014

This exhibition features the work of our first group of Carver Bank alumni and explores the work they created while Artists-in-Residence. The exhibition highlights the burgeoning creativity of North Omaha's artistic community through paintings by visual artist Bart Vargas, interactive displays of music by Shannon Marie and Dereck Higgins and poetry by writer Portia Love.

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Exhibition Closings



Through May 31st!   

What is "Lossy?" It's what happens when digital images are compressed or resized. Clarity drastically changes when compared to the original - usually for the worse. Sometimes, though, the lossy process can improve the quality in exceptional and unanticipated ways. Either way, it's a powerful means for affecting how we view images and objects that have been reinterpreted, and this exhibition of work by six former Artists-in-Residence allows viewers to experience the power of lossy in profound ways.    


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Continuing Projects and Exhibitions

Sum of Us
Through June 28th

A dot of paint, a sliver of paper, a piece of felt, a momentary video clip. Taken in fragments, they don't amount to much, but integrated into a whole, they create something extraordinary. 


Sum of Us features exactly this kind of work. On view are multimedia works created by six Kansas City artists who use repetition as a means to examine how parts relate to the whole. Each artist has a different  approach to this theme, and their resulting works provide new ways of thinking about our simultaneously whole and fragmentary states, particularly when it comes to our individual relationships to time, space, place and self.  


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Mary Mattingly -
Flock House Project: Omaha

Through August 16th


Mary Mattingly uses her Flock Houses - migratory homes with autonomous systems for rainwater collection and food production - as ways to explore what a near future marked  by environmental distress and resource scarcity might look like. Throughout May, we're working with local environmentalists, urban planners, designers, architects and artists - plus a host of other contributors - to create two Omaha Flock Houses. We'll be installing them in early June outside the Bemis Center's Okada Sculpture Facility in the Old Market and Carver Bank in North Omaha, and individuals and organizations in the community will live and work from the Flock Houses as a way to explore the world's coming challenges. Don't miss the opportunity to see how Mary creates her groundbreaking project and watch how her Flock Houses unfold during the coming month.  


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Bemis Center | Old Market | 724 South 12th Street, Omaha, NE
Open Hours: Tues - Sat 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Evening Events Every First Thursday and Third Thursday of the Month

Bemis Center | Carver Bank | 2416 Lake Street, Omaha, NE
Open Hours: Mon - Fri 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM; Sat 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM