Call for Artists: 2018 International Festival Cultural Perspectives
‘Our Lives: A Universal Experience’ Art Exhibit
June 28-August 4, 2018

Artists’ Reception
Thursday, July 19, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Light refreshments will be served

The International Festival of Burnsville’s 2018 Cultural Perspectives Art Exhibit brings both emerging and experienced artists together for “Our Lives: The Universal Experience” in the Ames Center Art Gallery.

The impressive artwork depicts family, community, or cultural connections, at home or across the globe, as we share the common aspects of daily living. Together we eat, sleep, work, play, laugh, love, mourn, struggle, achieve, overcome, dance, sing, celebrate, honor, remember, and much more.


2018 Artist Profiles

by John Higgins
“While driving on Burnsville Pkwy one morning I saw a young family out for a morning run including their baby and family dog.  Such a pretty sight, I knew right away I wanted to paint this. I started painting later that morning –before the memory started to fade.”  John admires that this family makes time for building healthy bodies together, as do families everywhere.

by Howard W. Kilau
“Our love of animals, especially for pet cats and dogs, is an emotion shared by many people throughout the world.” Regarding heritage, “the painting, depicting my wife (Carole), and our cat (Mia), reflects our love for this kitty.  The wandering background of Mia’s paw prints in the snow symbolizes her homeless situation before we rescued her from an animal shelter.”

by Ronald Bergerson
“Sometimes taking a different road in our busy schedules and spending quality time with a close friend, or by initiating a friendship with someone of a different race, a different faith or from another country, we may be able to broaden our horizons in understanding and appreciating one another.”

“The daily pressures placed on Borucan culture are quite striking.  The destruction of the rainforest, and migration to ore economically vibrant parts of Costa Rica, are real and serious threats to Boruca.  It is no wonder that the face of the Shaman (or Protector of the Forest) on the masks frequently displays remorse or anger.”

by Margo Swanson
Imagine how 5 year-old Fiona & Bridget see their lives at this time:  There are many colorful flags on such long sticks.  All the grown-ups are excited.  The girls must walk slowly, chins up and big smiles –and perhaps when they reach the microphone,  say from where their flag and family comes.  But this is the minute before the line moves, before other children on the hillsides stand to get a better look, and before the applause starts. With these moments, the festival –with all its’ marvelous sounds, smells, and colors –pauses briefly; long enough for two friends to appreciate each other’s clothing, and be side-by-side on this bright day to celebrate cultural heritage, art, and becoming better neighbors. Fiona wears a Lao Sinh dress from Laos; Bridget wears a Bavarian dirndl from Germany.”

by Anna Cummings
“Most of my artwork is in custom lettering; the client asks for a specific phrase or lyrics.  Most all of the hand-painted lettering on canvas is meant to motivate, inspire, or support each other.  Words of encouragement when you need a pick-me-up, is a welcome sight.  These pieces were gifts to my sisters.  Though made some years ago, the sentiments remain current and consistent.”

I read about Devin’s artwork in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and believe his visibility here further opens doors for himself and other artists at the Interact Center.  Devin had my attention when he sliced his drawing into strips and created a much more interesting, off-balance piece. Nor did he hesitate to cut it up –knowing the finished piece met with his vision.  The remaining pieces address our shared love for travel, the desire to experience new places, and comfort in familiar spaces.” -Margo Swanson, IFB art exhibit chair

by Sophia Ebel
“This piece exhibits American culture through the toys played with by children. This was inspired by all the fun I had playing with my brothers, and how sometime things get broken too!”

by Sophia Ebel
“This piece shows the emotion and inspiration behind music which can be seen in every culture. This piece was inspired by my love for music –especially while playing my guitar.”

by Sophia Ebel
“This piece is inspired by my Italian heritage. I want to tell the story of my great grandmother: Her contributions during World War II as a riveter for the USA, her love for her family through her kids and husband, as well as her love for America. The title of this piece means ‘Life is a Journey’ as seen with her story unfolding on the cloth of the Italian flag.”

by Suzanne Richardson
“It’s in our DNA to want to find like-minded people to do life with, or convey there may be another way to think and believe. This piece was done for a young man named Victor Lessa whom I met in Brazil on a mission trip in 2016.  Victor so impacted me with his heart that I have created a room in my house for him to come and live with us, if he would ever be able to obtain a visa. I believe it is his calling to go into all the nations and make disciples –to touch people’s hearts and minds, that they too would never be the same!”

Sumi-e is the Japanese word for washed ink painting. This intriguing painting technique uses the ink stick, ink stone, brush and paper. Simona Nemcova’s works reveal the duality of the soul; the sadness and passion as shared universal experiences.

by Nicole Houff Photography
“I am a Minneapolis based photographer with a mild obsession with Barbie. My goal is to create fun and sometimes-satirical photographs that will put a smile on your face. I love taking photos of Barbie dolls. Why? Well, love her or hate her, it’s hard to deny that Barbie isn’t just a doll; she is a cultural icon.” Nicole’s works have been available on Etsy since 2009.

When Ty Wilson (1959-) presented his older brother’s drawing of a blue bird as his own in kindergarten, his teacher was so impressed she asked him to draw another while the class watched.  Armed with a blue Crayola, Wilson stared at a blank sheet of white paper for several long, silent minutes before vowing two things: he would never again lie, and he would learn to draw. Fifteen years later, Wilson began his professional art career with Hallmark Greeting Cards. When Hallmark turned down his own design portfolio in 1984, Wilson framed the rejection letter and set his sights on New York. There, his elegant and stylish illustrations were an immediate success in the advertising and fashion worlds. His work was used by corporate giants such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Macy’s and Bloomingdales. Wilson’s illustrative artwork portrays and captures a by-gone era when romance and elegance reigned. His bold, minimal line drawings elicit feelings of fun, romance, rhythm and sophistication. His art is often made up of only black and white, with just a splash of color – red lips or a red rose. He aims to create a mood with as few lines as possible. Wilson has been influenced by such great masters as Matisse, Picasso, Ert, Al Hirschfeld and Andy Warhol. His work is featured in two books: “Fashion Illustration” by Colin Barnes and “The Professional Guide to Marketing, Design and Illustration” by Mary Young.

by Debra Blowers
“My photo of ‘The Ocean Iris’ was taken at Columbia Glacier on Prince William Sound in Alaska. I hold the words of John Muir forever in my heart:  ‘As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.’ ” Also on display are distinctive jewelry pieces of her own design using bits of deer antler. Learn where to find more of her work at

by Eric Cameron
“Culture, like a fishing net, is a web of connections in which one is inextricably tangled.  Like this knotted and tangled pile of fishing nets, culture can be messy and difficult to organize.  But like the connections in these nets, a person’s culture(s) ties them to humanity in a way that cannot be undone without severing important connections, such as language, clothing, food, and traditions.”

by Eric Cameron
“Food, and the forms and settings in which it is sold are dominant markers of culture.  This woman, tending to and organizing her market stall of garlic, onions, peppers, and other ingredients, is participating in a cultural practice as old as civilization itself: the selling and buying of food.” 

y Aimee Pleuger
Among Aimee’s pieces is Tillman Tough, which refers to a local family whose infant son recuperates following a most serious illness. With her work, Aimee invites support from the community, and rallies other families to be strong –just as this little Tillman and his parents are with every day, and fight through this crisis: “I am so excited to be supporting the Tillman family with this, and to share my passion with others. Wherever we live, and wherever we come from, we hold each other up through times good and bad.  Each design speaks to standing by each other as families and friends do.” Learn more about Aimee’s work at 

y Professor Yudong Shen

y Nancy Kolacke
“Throughout the world there are those special places we gravitate to when we want to relax, take a walk and be in nature. A special park or garden, along the Seine or here in Minnesota around one of our 10,000 plus lakes.  These places take hold of our hearts and draw us back time and again. They calm us. They recharge us. They inspire us.”

by Nancy Kolacke
“The Wisconsin 35 Great River Road is one of our favorite relaxing drives. It is close enough to make an enjoyable day trip. This painting was completed in studio from a series of photos I captured on an early Spring drive along Wisconsin 35 and the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. I was awestruck at the beauty and the seeming early Spring contradictions. Beauty is all around us.” She reflects on our shared experience as humans: “That we just need to stop and look around, and remind ourselves how to find peace in nature.”