Past Exhibitions

Handmade Craft Invitational

June 2, 2018 - September 9, 2018

Handmade Craft Invitational

The Handmade Craft Invitational includes works by a select group of regionally-based craftspeople working in ceramic, wood, metal, glass, leather, and fiber arts. The more than 65 original works on display push the boundaries of skill, sophistication, and artistic concept, with an emphasis on functional works and utilitarian objects.

The exhibition – the first regional survey of contemporary craft organized by DUMA – is also intended to bring greater recognition to craft artists at a time when there is a broad resurgence of interest in skill and craftsmanship. The Craft Invitational compliments the DUMA Biennial, which takes place every other year and generally highlights traditional fine art media such as painting, sculpture, and photography.

DUMA Associate Curator and Registrar Stacy Peterson organized Handmade with the assistance of ceramic artist Delores Fortuna and textile artist Maureen Bardusk, both of Galena, Illinois; and boot maker Paul Opperman of Dubuque. Special thanks to Heidi Austreng, Program Coordinator of the Smithsonian Craft Show, for her guidance on the exhibition. Thank you also to our sponsors Premier Bank, McGraw Hill, and Humanities Iowa.

“With this exhibition, the museum was interested in exploring functional craft – objects that have artistic conception as well as a practical and physical purpose,” said Peterson. “Handmade underscores the variety of accessible art forms that can easily be incorporated into daily life.” Peterson added, “We will also explore the life of an object, from the creation process to how the object goes from maker to user to collector. Living with art is possible in many ways that are familiar, fun, and enriching.”

Many of the 23 craft artists featured in Handmade are represented by galleries and have been shown in leading fine art and craft fairs and juried exhibitions. At least ten craft artists have been selected for inclusion in the prestigious Smithsonian Craft Show and Craft2Wear.

Exhibiting artists (place of permanent residence) include:

  • Barbara Briggs (Hanover, Illinois)
  • Ann Marie Cianciolo (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
  • Paul Eshelman (Elizabeth, Illinois)
  • Mary Frisbee Johnson (Oregon; formerly Cedar Falls, Iowa)
  • Amara Hark Weber (St Paul, Minnesota)
  • Robin Kittleson (Geneva, Illinois)
  • Aaron Laux (Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Patricia Lehnhardt (Galena, Illinois)
  • George Lowe (Decorah, Iowa)
  • Aaron Macsai (Morton Grove, Illinois)
  • Kelly Marshall (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Elisabeth Maurland (Decorah, Iowa)
  • J. P. Miller (Fairbank, Iowa)
  • Martha Monson Lowe (Decorah, Iowa)
  • Karen Morris (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Barry Newstat (Western Springs, Illinois)
  • Paul Opperman (Dubuque, Iowa)
  • Susan Otterson (Janesville, Wisconsin)
  • Gina Pannorfi (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Luke Proctor (Mt Horeb, Wisconsin)
  • Connie Roberts (Iowa City, Iowa)
  • Sam Schold (Sherrard, Illinois)
  • Trish Stevenson (Black Earth, Wisconsin)
  • Laura Weber (Cedarburg, Wisconsin)


Lost in the Midwest

May 26, 2018 - September 9, 2018

SANDRA DYAS Lost in the Midwest

With an eye for the strange and beautiful, artist Sandra Dyas presents an immersive experience in her latest series of photographs documenting people and places in Lost in the Midwest, a visual diary of contemporary Midwest life embellished with a sense of nostalgia. Dyas looks closely at the Midwest’s cultural landscape and the complexity of living here, with the intent of showing what is present and what is slowly vanishing.

Dyas is an intense observer and often finds that she becomes fully absorbed by her subjects, lost in the places and the lives of the people in the images. Popping colors, timeless details, and sensitive portraits define her best known works in the exhibition. Presented with dozens of new images, Lost in the Midwest continues to grow and evolve over time while maintaining a palpable intimacy and familiarity.

Sandra Dyas is a Lecturer in Art at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where she teaches photography, performance art, and video. She was raised on an eastern Iowa farm in rural Jackson County and has lived in Iowa City for over 30 years. Sandra received her MFA in Intermedia from the University of Iowa. In 2007, the University of Iowa Press published her first book of photographs, Down to the River; Portraits of Iowa Musicians. She subsequently self-published two books available through, my eyes are not shut, 2012 and Lost in the Midwest, 2016. She has exhibited extensively at galleries and museums regionally and nationally. As a freelance photographer her work has been seen in the New York Times, Vogue, People, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, and Redhouse Records.

Paper: Medium and Message

Anna Lambrini Moisiadis, Elizabeth Rhoads Read, Lee Emma Running, Carrie Ann Schumacher, and Michael Velliquette

February 17, 2018 - May 13, 2018


Paper is among the oldest known materials used for artistic expression. Traditionally employed as a surface upon which to create and make marks, contemporary artists have increasingly turned to paper as an expressive medium, in and of itself. Paper: Medium and Message presents ten works by five contemporary regional artists who create dazzling sculptures made of paper, revealing the extraordinary possibilities of this ordinary medium.

Anna Lambrini Moisiadis, of New Glarus, Wisconsin, creates elegant sculptures, often from a single sheet of paper. Moisiadis says, “Like the architecture I grew up with, the paper I work on is constructed, built on, demolished, and renovated through cutting, stacking, stitching, and repeated marks.”­

Elizabeth Rhoads Read, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, crafts three-dimensional forms from simple materials including paper and fabric. Inspired by nature, Read’s works play with space, texture, and color to express the intensity of human emotions.

Lee Emma Running, of Grinnell, Iowa, investigates the beauty and complexity of natural phenomena in her artworks. Running’s installation, Watercourse: Mississippi, which spans 28 feet, employs hand-dyed fabric and molded handmade paper to trace the random yet rhythmic movements of water.

Carrie Ann Schumacher, of Chicago, fashions elaborate dresses from the pages of romance novels. Described by the artist as “seductively beautiful” but without function, Schumacher’s dresses represent the futility of feminine myths in real life.

Michael Velliquette, of Madison, Wisconsin, hand-cuts paper shapes and assembles them into complex forms akin to sacred architecture. The formal symmetry of Velliquette’s work is intended to evoke a sense of balance and order.

Isabel Barbuzza: (In) Materialities

February 17, 2018 - May 13, 2018

Isabel Barbuzza

Iowa artist and Argentina-native Isabel Barbuzza explores how cultural artifacts and materials influence and shape our perception of the world.

Through combining, altering, and transforming materials, including books, maps, and found objects, to create compelling sculptures and installations, Barbuzza contrasts the worldviews of her native and adopted countries. The artist says, “Through perception, thought, and language, we engage with the physical world in unexpected ways.”

This exhibition is on view in the museum’s lobby and balcony gallery.

Charles Thwaites, The Binder

Charles Thwaites: An American Journey

January 20, 2018 - April 22, 2018

Charles Thwaites

This major retrospective seeks to reintroduce Charles Thwaites (1904-2002), a Wisconsin artist who responded to changing artistic trends in the mid-twentieth century, to a new audience. Most of the 43 paintings, drawings, and prints in this exhibition are drawn from the collection of the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA). The Dubuque Museum of Art proudly includes a portrait from Thwaites’ Taos period, donated to the museum from the artist and recently restored thanks to donations to the museum’s Conservation Corner.

In 1926 Thwaites abandoned engineering studies for art and in the following two decades he became one of the leading realist painters in America with ninety exhibitions at prestigious venues. In Wisconsin, he was the go-to artist for official portraits, and completed four post office murals under the auspices of the WPA. Six of the mural studies are included in this exhibition. He lived in Dubuque briefly in 1928, serving as director of the Dubuque Little Institute and teaching at the Dubuque Art Association while finishing his art degree.

In 1954, Thwaites moved to New Mexico. The move marked a fresh chapter and a significant artistic shift, but meant his reputation in Wisconsin faded, particularly as the realist style he had mastered was falling out of favor. Stylistically, his realism slowly transitioned to abstraction and he became a member of the “Taos Moderns” group.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Thwaites produce mostly abstract work but by the early 1980s he ceased painting. When he died in 2002, his name had faded from both the Southwestern and Wisconsin art scenes rendering him a forgotten man in both New Mexico and his home state. The journey Charles Thwaites undertook over the course of his life was not just one of physically relocating from one state to another, but really from one culture to another and one artistic style to another. Graeme Reid, MOWA’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions (and curator of this exhibition) has long championed Thwaites’ painting. “It’s exceptionally rare for any artist to be so successful in one style and make a smooth, almost effortless, transition to another. Whether it was realism or abstraction, Charles Thwaites could do both with confidence and originality.”