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Mia Russell's career and recognition as an artist seem to be taking off, much to her delight and amazement.
Recently after her final year at University of Wisconsin-Stout — Russell graduated with a B.F.A. in studio art in May — she sold two art pieces from her senior show in the Simon Gallery in Morristown, N. J.
Russell had the rare and fortunate opportunity to display her work for the month of June in the contemporary gallery.
One of her instructors, Robert Atwell, Furlong Gallery director and associate professor in the School of Art and Design at UW-Stout, arranged with the gallery to exhibit work from two students at two universities. The idea would "allow the students a hands-on experience and foot-in-the-door introduction to the commercial art world," Atwell said.
"This really doesn't happen around the country too much," Atwell said. "Some Master of Fine Arts programs around the country work with galleries, but to find an undergrad in such a situation is rare," he said.
Russell, of Appleton, with artwork in hand traveled to New Jersey at the end of May for her student exhibit. She was accompanied by Atwell, Daniel Atyim, lecturer in the School of Art and Design, and two fellow students, Jake Popek, majoring in entertainment design, and Jordan Clark, majoring in studio arts.
The show was a success, and gallery owner Harry Simon likes the idea of supporting emerging artists, Atwell said.
Russell's work is related to abstract expressionism, she said. "I work in a series of layers, responding to each layer as I consider how each decision would affect the already standing parts," she said.
Russell is still in a state of disbelief over the show and sale of her work."As much as I was going to work very hard to get gallery representation, deep down I didn't think it would ever happen," she said.
"There are so many artists that are more talented than I am trying to do the same thing that I am, so I can't believe that it happened to me," Russell said.
But it did, and the Simon Gallery has chosen to represent her work. She will be expected to have a solo show, with new work, every other season. When her work isn't on display, it will be held in a storage area for people to look at by appointment in order to purchase.
Russell will continue to be an exhibitor until the gallery chooses not to represent her. That "would potentially happen if no work sells for a few consecutive seasons, or if I am not prepared for a solo show," she said.
For now she is happy doing what she loves to do. "I am not sure exactly what I want to do (in the future); I just know that I can't stop making art. It is something I have to do," Russell said.
Atwell has been exhibiting his work at the gallery since 2008.
For more information about the School of Art and Design go here.
Image 1: "Kinship For a Moment"
Image 3:"An End to Reluctance"