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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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Become a mentor

2015 MARN Mentors

Portia Cobb is a video artist and producer of short experimental documentary whose videos and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Although trained as a filmmaker, she began using video because of its accessibility and immediacy in the field. Her work often investigates the politics of place and identity. Through her continuing documentation of urban and rural communities in America and West Africa, she draws upon memory and history "as a means of confronting forced movement and forgetting." Portia serves as director of the Community Media Project, an arts outreach program of the Film Department, teaching video production workshops for at-risk teens and media literacy for high school teachers. She also curates and administers two public screening programs: "Africa Beyond," and the "Producers’ Forum."


Raoul Deal is an artist and educator who often works collaboratively in community settings. He is Coordinator for the Community Arts track of the BA program at UWM’s PSOA, Department of Art and Design, and is Artist-in-Residence for UWM’s Cultures and Communities Program.  He completed a 2-year residency as a mentor artist with REDLine Milwaukee in 2011, and enjoys working in close cooperation with young artists.  His most recent project, “Ni de aquí, ni de allá/ From neither here nor there” is based on conversations carried out with Latino families on Milwaukee’s near south side. Deal enjoys interacting with people from different backgrounds, and this is integral to his practice as an artist.  “As I move between boundaries, I frequently think about the following two questions: 'What happens to art when community matters?' -and- 'What happens to communities when art matters?'"



Thomas Hellstrom grew up in Wisconsin, but relocated to New York City in the early 1990s, after a stint studying art in Minneapolis. He moved back to Milwaukee in 2011. Thomas Hellstrom produces immersive photo installations that engage diverse communities and specific geographical regions.  His art follows his enthusiasm for the places he has lived. He is interested in how cities grow, how communities form, how interactions between people define public places and how these places, in turn, change the way people interact with one another. Along these lines, as an artist, Hellstrom mostly plays with how images both document and make place. He believes the exhibition is a space for exchanges of meaning, and that those exchanges are the real “work” of the art.


Della Wells is a self-taught artist who began drawing and painting in earnest at the age of 42. Della's work is about story telling. Her work ranges from collage and pastels to quilting. She has exhibited all over the United States and aboard. Her creative process stems primarily from her personal experiences embellished through the art of storytelling into visual work. Wells' work has been written about and has appeared in several publications including Betty-Carol Sellen's and Cynthia J. Johnson's book, '' Self Taught, Outsider and Folk Art, A Guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources, 2000 ed. and one of her images appears in a children's book published by National Geographic. In 2011, an award winning play which was inspired by her life, '' Don't Tell Me I Can't Fly'', debuted in Milwaukee. The play was commissioned by Milwaukee First Stage Children 's Theatre and written by Y York. In 2010, the play was selected to be read at the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C., for its New Visions, New Voices Festival. Since its debut in Milwaukee, the play has been produced in Nashville, Tennessee and in Charlotte, North Carolina. Wells' work is in over one hundred private and public collections. She has exhibited in various galleries, museums and art festivals all over the United States, Italy and British Columbia. She has been a feature artist at the Kentuck Festival of Arts, the largest art festival which features folk, self-taught and outsider art in the United States.


Jason S. Yi works across artistic disciplines: drawing, photography, video, sculpture, site-specific and interactive installations. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Italy and Austria. His awards include Joan Mitchell Foundations Painters and Sculptors Grant 2014, Mary L. Nohl Foundations Fellowship in the established artist category and Kamiyama Artist in Residence Fellowship, supported by the Japan Foundation.  He was selected as the Milwaukee Artist of the Year, 2006 by the Milwaukee Arts Board. Among other places, he has participated in exhibitions at the Inside-Out Art Museum and Platform China in Beijing, China, Asian American Art Center in NYC, Moran Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, Kamiyama Art Museum in Kamiyama, Japan, Hotel Pupik in Schrattenberg, Austria, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Milwaukee Art Museum. His photo series “Yellow Mountains” has been reviewed in the Artforum Magazine’s Critic’s Pick’s by Lori Waxman. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Kamiyama Museum of Art in Japan, Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the Edward F. Albee Foundation in New York.  Jason S. Yi lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in United States.


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