Category Archives: Awards

McKnight 2020 Fellowships for Choreographers and Dancers

Intent to Apply for the 2020 Fellowships is due by Wednesday, September 4, 2019 

(with the final application due in spring 2020).

The Intent to Apply form is now open.



Two webinars for all interested applicants are being offered

Tuesday, August 13th, 5:00-6:00 pm

Monday, August 19th, 12:00-1:00 pm

These sessions, led by Program Director Mary Ellen Childs, will be accessed through the online meeting site, Zoom. RSVP to, and you will be sent a link to enter the webinar by internet browser on a computer or smart phone.  

This information session will be geared towards first-time applicants and focus on frequently asked questions regarding the application materials – – the artistic statement, resume and work sample.  Participants will be able to ask questions via a chat feature, or are encouraged to submit a question by email when you RSVP. 

If you plan to submit an Intent to Apply, be aware that local panelists are already in place and viewing performances. Please submit performance information to us using our online calendar forms:



Be sure to give us as much lead time as possible (4-6 weeks is optimal) so that panelists can get your performances on their calendars.

NW Star Award Recipient George French

Northwest Star Award Winner is George French

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that George French of Crookston has been selected as the 2019 Northwest Minnesota Star Artist of the Year for his lifetime achievement in music, specializing in piano and organ.

French is an Associate Professor and Director of Music/Theater at the University of Minnesota Crookston and has been there for 39 years. Early in his career, he taught elementary and junior high school music.  He is the church organist at Trinity Lutheran church and part-time organist at First Presbyterian church. He has been involved with the Crookston Community Theater, directing and acting in musicals and plays, and is a member of the Kiwanis Club, Crookston Rotary and Masonic Lodge. 

French disclosed that he feels fortunate. “I never really feel like I go to work”.  He explained that “Arts are critical in the development of students; development of the person. The arts are part of the whole educational process that will fulfill a need in all people. The arts and arts organizations like the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council are terribly important, especially in a rural area.”

Asked if he had any advice for aspiring artists. He said, “Grab onto the opportunities when they come. Know your limitations, but you can grow and learn. Set new goals and aspirations.” 

Sandy Perkins explained, “George’s influence in the arts in the area of NW Minnesota and throughout the state is widely known and appreciated. His talents and influence are exceptional to all who know him and work with him.”

Reverend Gregory Isaacson shared, “George affirms people in their gifts and helps them to shine in their own performance.” Finally, former Chancellor at UMC Charles Casey praised French’s work at the college. “Each year it was amazing to watch George find and support the talents of the students coming to campus from across the country and around the world. Before long he would have them performing for the enjoyment of the campus, community, and region.”

The Northwest Star Artist Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. “Of the Year” Award winners are nominated by area residents. This award comes with $5,000. Artists can only receive our Northwest Star Award once, as a lifetime achievement award. Funding for the Northwest Star comes from the McKnight Foundation.  

Congratulations George French on winning the Northwest Star Award!

Arts Advocate of the Year Sherri Kukowski

Sherri Kukowski is Northwest Arts Advocate of the Year

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce this year’s recipient for the Arts Advocate of the Year Award is Sherri Kukowski of Badger. 

Kukowski is the junior high and high school math teacher in Badger, as well as the Math League coach, Prom Advisor, and Art Club Advisor. She is also a member of Badger Town and Country. Kukowski is a mosaic artist and the force behind the Badger Heritage Mosaic Wall, a handcrafted 26’ x 12’ mosaic art installation. Through the process of creating the Heritage Wall, she has realized the impact of the arts on the community. Community members who had never done any artistic work before continue to encourage each other. “It has been so fun. Young and old have worked together to create. Everyone has had a part.”

According to Badger Mayor James Rinde, “In early 2016 Sherri approached the city about a Badger Heritage Wall that would tell the story of Badger. The huge mosaic wall has brought together community members of all ages for the last three years and is far more than we ever imagined.”

Debbie Aune explained, “Sherri will advocate for art whenever she can. Sherri organizes, designs, fundraises, collaborates, writes grants, advocates and smiles tirelessly with sleeves rolled up. Sherri is a lovely manifestation of art advocacy.”

Resident Christine Modahl raved about Kukowski’s advocacy for the arts. “Sherri has a strong passion for art and enjoys sharing it with anyone anywhere. Her creativeness has gone miles in our community.  Starting out with becoming the Prom Advisor, she utilized her artistic talented mind and enthusiasm to get all the Juniors and Seniors involved, which created the perfect atmosphere to coordinate beautifully with each year’s theme. She moved on to start up the Badger Art Club in the school, which involves any and all teens wanting to learn about art. She organizes indoor art workshops for the students and gives her best effort to end the year with an annual field trip to educate them on different levels of art in Minnesota.”

Asked if she has any advice for aspiring artists, Sherri recommends that they be in touch with the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council. Education-wise and money-wise, the Arts Council helps so much. Regarding their art, she said, “keep playing with it. It will click. If one type of art isn’t working, take a break and try something else. Never quit.”

Our Arts Advocate of the Year award is given each year to recognize arts advocates within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of volunteerism in the arts. “Of the Year” award winners were nominated by area residents. This award comes with a cash award of $500.00. Funding for the Northwest Arts Advocate of the Year comes from the Minnesota State Legislature.

Artist of the year Jean Honl

Northwest Artist of the Year Award Given to Jean Honl

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is pleased to announce that Jean Honlof Roseau has been awarded the Northwest Artist of the Year Award. Honl is a talented fine craft artist in rosemaling and woodworking. 

Jean Honl lives in Roseau with her husband Pete and is originally from Malung. In 1974 she took a community education class on rosemaling and she was hooked. Honl is also a master woodworker. She designs and builds all the furniture pieces that she needs for her rosemaling work. Honl has studied at Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. She worked as an artist-in-residence in the Roseau and Badger Schools. She continues to demonstrate her art at workshops, arts events, festivals, and libraries. She is currently exhibiting her work at the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council Gallery at the Riverwalk Gallery in East Grand Forks.

Honl enjoys that you never create the same thing when you rosemal. You start with the same basic patterns, but you come up with new designs, color, shading and detail. “I love that about it. Honestly, I don’t know what it’s going to look like until it’s done.”

According to Elwyn Ruud, Honl is “an amazing artist and teacher. I continue to be impressed with her works of art, talents and her gift of sharing her art by teaching adults and students. Her quiet and calm manner of teaching bring out the creative spirit of each child.”

When asked about the impact of the arts, Honl explained that “For society, it’s very important. It’s another way of learning and looking at things. Art makes the world beautiful. You can learn about other things in art. You plan, use your imagination, get your own ideas.” 

Asked if she had advice for aspiring artists, she said, “Don’t give up! Keep on going if you love what you are doing. Don’t be too critical of yourself.”

The Northwest Artist of the Year Award is given each year to recognize artists within our seven-county region who stand out in terms of artistry. This award can be given to any discipline artist including visual, performing, or creative writing who are emerging or at a mid-way point in their artistic endeavors. “Of the Year” Award winners were nominated by area residents and comes with a cash award of $500.00. Funding for the Northwest Artist of the Year comes from the McKnight Foundation. 

NW Minnesota Art Exhibit 2019 Winners

Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit Winners Announced

The Northwest Minnesota Arts Council is excited to announce the Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit Winners. Student and adult artists residing in a seven-county region including Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Pennington, Roseau and Red Lake recently entered into the Northwest Minnesota Art Exhibit and competed for $2,300.00 in cash awards. The winners were recognized at the Northwest Minnesota Artist Reception in Badger, Minnesota on March 31. To view a video of the entire exhibit click here.

Some of the student entries in the exhibit

Exhibit cash award winners were chosen while the exhibit was on display at the Badger Community Hall in Badger from March 20 to 31 by qualified juror and Region 2 Arts Council Grants Manager Holly Alcott. “I was completely humbled and joyfully impressed by the amount of talent. There were so many incredible creative works it was very difficult to choose the award winners. I applaud the creativity, talent, originality, and technical experience of all the artists that participated, both students and adults,” Alcott said.

NW Art Exhibit 2019

Exhibit Awards include:

Adult Winners

1stPlace $500 Elizabeth Rockstad of Ada in fine craft mosaic “Seasons”

Elizabeth Rockstad of Ada won 1st place at the NWMAC NW Art Exhibit with her mosaic “Seasons”

2ndPlace $300 Andy Hall of Climax for photography “Snowy Pasque Flower”

2nd Place Winner Andy Hall with “Snowy Pasque Flower”

3rdPlace $200 Connie Nelson of Hallock in acrylic painting “Tail Light”

Connie Nelson won 3rd place for her acrylic painting “Tail Light.”

Merit $100 Debbie Aune of Gatzke in watercolor painting “Busy Streets on a Cold Day: Badger MN”

Debbie Aune with “Busy Streets on a Cold Day: Badger MN.”

Merit $100 Betsy Saurdiff of Grygla in pottery “Nesting Bowls: My Little Beauties”

Merit Award Winner Betsy Saurdiff with her pottery “Nesting Bowls: My Little Beauties.”

Merit $100 Irene Bertils of Crookston in drawing “Prayer”

Crookston resident Irene Bertils with her merit winning drawing “Prayer.”

Merit $100 Peggy Branden of Karlstad in print “The Beast”

Peggy Branden with her print “The Beast.”

Merit $100 Tammy Hansen of Newfolden in acrylic painting “Golden Hay Harvest”

Tammy Hansen of Newfolden with her merit award acrylic painting “Golden Hay Harvest.”

People’s Choice $100 Debbie Aune of Gatzke 

Student Winners

1stPlace $300 Logan Johnson of Crookston in sculpture “Because I Could”

Logan Johnson won 1st place and People’s Choice for his chess set “Because I Could.”

2ndPlace $150 Adriana Isum of Crookston in painting “Serenity”

Adrianna Isum of Crookston with her painting “Serenity.”

3rdPlace $100 Amber Lee of Hendrum for painting “Koi”

“Koi” by Amber Lee won 3rd place in the student category.

Merit $50 Madilyn Race of Goodridge for sculpture “Chowing Down”

“Chowing Down” by Madilyn Race

Merit $50 Elysa Christensen of Crookston in mixed media “Fifth Dimension”

Elysa Christensen won a merit award for “Fifth Dimension.”

Merit $50 Anissah Novacek of Greenbush for drawing “Live Aid”

“Live Aid” by Anissah Novacek of Greenbush

Merit $50 Phenix Glessing of Ada for tea set sculpture “Apple of My Eye”

“Apple of My Eye” by Phenix Glessing

Merit $50 Elliot Chapman of Crookston for a photography “Grain Elevator”

Elliot Chapman of Crookston with his photograph “Grain Elevator.”

People’s Choice $50 Logan Johnson of Crookston 

A dozen exhibit pieces of art were chosen to be included in the Traveling Art Exhibit, which will travel this next year to area libraries. Watch for the schedule to be announced and for it to arrive in your community.