Our instructors are drawn from a wealth of talented teachers, including nationally known artists from across the country and across the street. They are innovative craftsmen and artists who enjoy trying new techniques and love sharing what they do with their students.
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Michael Donovan, as both artisan and artist, divides his time between innovative carpentry and far out sculptural assemblages, often featuring detritus of old houses he has worked on. He also enjoys working in found object mosaic concrete sculpture and collage. He brings a solid knowledge of tools and construction to the creative possibilities of assemblage sculpture.
While doing post baccalaureate work at Alverno College Wendy focused on paper cutting techniques spanning the globe and time. As she snipped her way from Wycinanki to Papel Picado she fell in love with bright colors, the relationship between positive and negative and the satisfaction of scissors. Shortly after she landed a teaching position at a bilingual school on the south side of Milwaukee. There she worked to honor the heritage of the population she served through expression of youth produced art mimicking the styles of Latin American artists and folk craftspersons. As Wendy grows as a public school educator in multiple disciplines she is increasingly certain that use of tools, understanding patterns, spatial math and pulling a product from mind’s eye to fruition are crucial skills to instill in young minds.
Youth Program Workshops
Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and best-selling author. Her latest book is The Weaver’s Revenge (2021) the 11th Chloe Ellefson mystery, featuring a curator employed at Old World Wisconsin. She also wrote A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons, which was selected by the Library of Congress Center for the Book to represent Wisconsin at the National Book Festival, and earned an invitation to speak at the National Archives. Kathleen worked at Old World Wisconsin as curator of interpretation and collections for over a decade.
Kathleen has also written many historical novels for young readers, as well as television scripts, poetry, and essays. The Wisconsin Library Association has named Kathleen a “Notable Wisconsin Author.” Honors for her work also include the American Heritage Women in the Arts Recognition Award for Literature from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a Major Achievement Award from the Council For Wisconsin Writers, the Sterling North Legacy Award for Children’s Literature, Edgar and Agatha Award nominations, and an Emmy for children’s programming. To date readers have purchased 1.75 million print, audio, and ebook copies of her 37 published books.
Kaska Firor is a jewelry artist, author, and an educator. She has been working with wire for the past 20 years and is a recipient of many awards for her intricately woven jewelry.
Kaska’s work has been published in several books and trade magazines such as Art Jewelry, Step-By-Step Wire, Bead Style and SNAG’s Jewelry and Metalsmithing Survey. She is the author of two books. Her first book, Freeform Wire Woven Jewelry, is an overview of many popular wire-weaving techniques and an introduction to the exciting world of artistically crafted wire-woven jewelry. Her second book, Wire & Fire, coauthored with Kat Firor-Colque, explores more advanced wire-weaving skills as well as ways of combining wire weaving with soldering and other metal techniques.
Kaska has received many awards for her jewelry. Among others she is a two-time first-place winner in the wire category in Bead Dreams Competition at the Bead and Button Show.
Kaska believes that teaching is an essential part of the art-making experience. She travels throughout the U.S. leading workshops at national shows, jewelry and bead societies, and jewelry schools.
Dawn Flores is a painter, writer, and performer who teaches art nationally at botanical gardens, schools, museums, and art centers. She is creative director for The Forest Project, a collaborative effort documenting 60 acres of urban forest about to be clear-cut for development. A graduate of the New York Botanical Garden, she is faculty at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and has taught at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C., The Clearing in Door County, and returns each summer to Shake Rag Alley. Her strength as a teacher lies in her ability to understand, articulate, and nurture the creative process. She builds confidence in her students with humorous stories and a positive outlook on life.
Helen Shafer Garcia
Helen Shafer Garcia is a painter, a mixed media, book arts and ceramics artist, and an award-winning illustrator. Helen’s watercolor illustrations have graced the cover of brochures, garden articles, and advertisements of numerous international resorts and magazines for more than 30 years. Awards include four San Diego Press Club First Place Awards of Excellence in Illustration for San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine. Her works and articles have been published in Southwest Art; Cloth, Paper, Scissors; San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles, and Studios magazines. Helen holds a BA degree in fine arts with an emphasis in illustration and ceramics. She is a signature member of the San Diego Watercolor Society and teaches watercolor and mixed media workshops internationally and across the U.S.
Kieu Pham Gray
Kieu Pham Gray has been creating jewelry for more than 25 years. She started her craft to create a personal look for herself, then soon after started a jewelry line. Since then she has sold to over 30 stores in 10 states and participated in numerous juried art shows in the Northeast. Through the years her creativity has transformed and expanded to two retail bead stores, a jewelry tools distribution company (TheUrbanBeader.com), and finally teaching. Through these businesses and teaching around the world, her passion, knowledge, and dedication for the jewelry industry becomes apparent. In an effort to share her experience in jewelry making, Kieu teaches a wide range of classes throughout the U.S., regularly contributes to Lapidary Journal and has also authored two how-to books, Hot & Cold Jewelry Connections and Minimal Metal Jewelry.
Doris Green has followed her curiosity about topics such as genealogy, education, and the natural environment and written articles for varied publications. This diversity sometimes leads to insights not found in more focused approaches.
Recent books include Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery (Henschel Haus, 2018), which traced its origin to a childhood trip to Wisconsin’s Cave of the Mounds and investigated the mysterious death of her aunt, who died above a northern Wisconsin tavern when Doris was 12. Second editions of two guidebooks — Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Caves, Mines, and Tunnels In and Around the Badger State and Minnesota Underground: Caves & Karst, Mines & Tunnels – -were published by Henschel Haus in 2019.
Doris launched and for 16 years co-published Wisconsin Community Banker magazine for the former Community Bankers of Wisconsin while serving as a communications specialist with the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She previously served as a publisher at Magna Publications, which then produced books, as well as newsletters for college and university audiences.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and a master’s degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She lives with her husband, Michael H. Knight, and three distracting cats in a log home above the Wisconsin River.
Sheree L Greer
A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, Sheree L. Greer is a text-based artist and educator living in Tampa, Florida. In 2014, she founded The Kitchen Table Literary Arts Center to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, Let the Lover Be and A Return to Arms. Her work has been published in First Bloom Anthology, LezTalk Anthology, VerySmartBrothas, Autostraddle, The Windy City Times, Bleed Literary Journal, and the Windy City Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast. Sheree has received a Union League of Chicago Civic Arts Foundation award, earned her MFA at Columbia College Chicago, and is a VONA/VOICES alum, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice grantee, Yaddo fellow, and Ragdale Artist House Rubin Fellow. Her essay, “Bars” published in Fourth Genre Magazine, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and notably named in Best American Essays 2019, and her latest essay, “None of This Is Bullshit” was published at The Rumpus and featured in “Memoir Mondays.”
Manuscript Consultation – Writing Retreat
Panel Discussion & Craft Talk – Writing Retreat
Sarah Hammond is an international author for young people and has published for both teens and younger readers. For almost a decade she worked as a lawyer in London. Her first teen book, The Night Sky in My Head was published by OUP and was shortlisted for the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year Award, the Leeds Book Award (14-16 category), the James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award and the Angus Book Award. Her first picture book, Mine!, was published by Paragon. Sarah runs workshops and competitions, mentors students, and presents at conferences and universities.
Your Inner Child: an Exercise in Narrative Distance – Writing Retreat
UK-born artist Philip Hartigan lives and works in Chicago. For over fifteen years, he has taught workshops in book-binding, drawing, and printmaking at colleges and art centers around the Midwest. In 2018, two of his handmade artist’s books were acquired by the Joan Flasch Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jennie Hawkey is a weaver and weaving teacher. She has woven for over 30 years and specializes in accessories that incorporate intricate weaves, natural fibers, and vivid colors. From handbags to scarves to reproductions of vintage pincushions, her hand-woven creations are both beautiful and practical.
Although weaving has been a long-time interest, teaching is Jennie’s passion. She is an educator and teacher of children and adults and loves to pass on the skills of weaving. She finds weaving to be endlessly fascinating and a wonderful creative outlet.
“I am a recycling artist: I give found objects new life as fun, fantastical, and functional household items such as lamps, clocks, jewelry, and wall hangings. I have a varied art background having worked in professional theater as a hair stylist, wig maker, dresser, and costumer; as a visual merchandiser doing in-store and window displays; and in antique rug and tapestry restoration. I have stuck junk together for most of my life. My husband and I live in Mineral Point where we are in the process of restoring 214 High St. where I operate DeeConstruct, an art and junk emporium.”
I’ve been teaching ceramics at Carroll University since 2000. I’ve been making pottery and clay sculpture for 46 years (I know, I don’t look that old.). I have taught workshops at Penland School of Arts and Crafts in North Carolina and at Appalachian Center for Arts and Crafts and Arrowmont in Tennessee. I can teach hand building and throwing, with pinch pots as my area of first expertise. I have also developed a basic, simple method for teaching glaze formulation, with a special interest in use of wood ash and local clays in glazes.
With a background in art education and long years working in the computer field, Tess Imobersteg likes to combine her interests in art, technology and multi-media and loves to teach. In 2013 she became a Certified Zentangle© Teacher and has worked at incorporating that method into her art and quilts. Tess has taught classes in the U.S. and when she lived in Switzerland in various media, including Spinning and Yarn Design, Photos on Fabric, Art Journaling, Journal Quilting, Watercolor, and Zentangle© and Zentangle© on Fabric. She has taught Zentangle basic and advanced classes in many venues in Wisconsin, including as an instructor in the Wisconsin Quilt Expo, as a featured artist for the Cambridge Wine and Art Night, and at many shops, quilt guilds, and studios in and around Madison. In spring 2018 in Portland, OR, Tess was privileged to be among the instructors at the largest Certified Zentangle Teacher conference in the U.S. With an international bend, she has also taught Zentangle in Switzerland in the local Swiss German dialect. She is inspired by her students insights and their delight in learning something new and encourages everyone to “keep learning and creating.”
I am the Youth Program director for Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. I appreciate the families that fit in art classes or purchase art kits for their children. When I was young, the school I went to did not have art classes. I was enthralled by watching Jon Gnagy on television and enjoyed getting one of his ÒLearn to DrawÓ kits from my mom. Since then I have explored many art materials, but the current material I work with is handmade paper. I got into making paper first as a sculptural medium because the clay pieces I was making became too big to fit into a large kiln. After making large paper structures, I then discovered how much I enjoy making imagery with colored paper pulp.
Youth Program Workshops
I was one of six raised on a farm in southwestern Minnesota where we were fortunate to have parents who did not discriminate between boys and girls when it came to work and learning mechanical skills. After an elementary education in the local country school and a small town high school diploma, I earned a BS in Botany and an MS in genetics and plant pathology in the University of Minnesota system. In my twenties I married, lived in Europe and South America, taught school and got tired of being poor.
The next chapter took me into Agribusiness in Wisconsin. I did well, traveled the country coast to coast and was finally transferred to corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. That is where the MS began. I worked for another sixteen years before retiring on disability in 1999.
In the early 90’s I began in earnest to develop my creative abilities. I built an enclosed garden, completed an unfinished house, took a Community College course in drawing and started to paint with watercolor. In 2000 we moved to Mineral Point, a lively artist’s colony in southwest Wisconsin where I am now trading gallery sitting for display space and producing a growing line of prints and cards mostly botanical and mostly watercolor.
This chapter of my life is the most rewarding yet. I have more things I want to do than I will live long enough to accomplish. My range of media is growing, my circle of patrons is growing and I am getting commissions more frequently.
Life is good.
Writer and teacher Gary Jones was raised on a small dairy farm in Willow Township, Richland County. He attended the one-room Pleasant Ridge Grade School and Ithaca High School, and graduated with a BS from UW-Platteville, an MA from UW-Madison, and a PhD from UW-Milwaukee. He taught both high school and college English classes from 1966 through 2014. For many years he was also a freelance journalist, in addition to publishing poetry and fiction and writing plays, one of which was written and produced under a Wisconsin Arts Board grant. He has won numerous awards for his writing. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press published his boyhood memoir Ridge Stories in the fall of 2019.
Jones and his wife summer in their home outside of Sister Bay, and winter in their historic home in Platteville.
Cathy Kitto is a retired educator with 40 years of experience in six states and England as a teacher and school principal. Since retiring she has been able to pursue her interest and develop her skills in fabric art, specifically painting on silk and nature printing on shirts and other fabrics. When not enjoying her new-found hobby, you can find her in her garden playing with her flowers.