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McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships - Idenity Mark Styl

Congratulations to
2024 McKnight Fiber Artist Fellows:
Amber Jensen & Rick Kagigebi

Fellowship Period:
March 1, 2024 – February 28, 2025

Amber Jensen

photo credit: Caroline Yang

Amber M. Jensen, Minneapolis, is a weaver, painter, and teacher who combines traditional techniques with her own bespoke improvisations. Her goal is to draw new and different stories out of thread and cloth with each piece she makes. As a working artist, Jensen’s journey into textiles began nearly two decades ago with the creation of one-of-a-kind backpacks that have since evolved into complex and individual pieces of wearable art. Devoted to her daily art practice, she also creates weavings and paintings embellished with stories and symbols, inspired by nature around her, and the through-line she can trace from ancestors’ blankets to her own work today. Whether people share the same language or not, woven cloth holds history.

She has previously received a 2009 Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Grant from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, exhibited her work in numerous group shows from Tokyo to Paris, and had a solo show in 2023 at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji. Her work will be featured in an upcoming exhibition with the Middle American Arts Alliance and the Scandinavian-American Foundation that will start in New York City and tour through the Midwest with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her commitment to sharing her love of weaving has manifest in projects with All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis, the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, the 2024 Art Shanty projects, and the North House Folk School in Grand Marais. Jensen works out of her studio at Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art in downtown Minneapolis.


Rick Kagigebi

photo credit: TJ Turner Pictures

A blanket is a stopped moment in time. Rick Kagigebi, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, makes appliquéd mural blankets incorporating elements such as direction, movement, time, space, 3-dimensional layering, and Ojibwe culture. From sketch to sewing to hand-tying, he thinks about a person that the blanket will go to – what can be provided through the blanket in order for them to have a good life? The design may shift while he’s working, making him wait until he’s shown what changes to make.

As a teenager, Kagigebi made his first blanket, a four-pointed star, on his grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. The year was 1980. Hundreds upon hundreds of blankets followed, for ceremony, for gifting, commission, and exhibition. In his 30s and living at the Duluth YWCA without sewing machine or other equipment, he hand-stitched appliqué designs using an embroidery hoop. He began to show his work publicly in 2018 after previously limiting his work to ceremony gifts or private commissions. Of this work, Kagigebi says, “Why do I do what I do? Because the people are worth doing it for.”

His work has been exhibited at venues in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, including All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis, Watermark Arts Center, Bemidji, and the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg. Kagigebi has received support from Region 2 Arts Council’s Anishinaabe Arts Initiative and two grants from the Lake Region Arts Council. He received a Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Individuals grant in 2023 and an Arts Experiences grant in 2024. He resides in Detroit Lakes.

Air and Water (solo exhibition), May 3 – June 28, MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids, MN. Click HERE to see Rick’s Facebook page for more information.

JOIN Rick for the 9th Annual Plains Art Museum Indigenous Art Fair, April 27 – 28, from 10 – 5, in Fargo!

M. Rachael Arauz

M. Rachael Arauz is an independent curator of modern and contemporary art, with a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She has organized exhibitions and contributed to museum catalogues in the United States, Mexico, and Europe for institutions including DeCordova Sculpture Park + Museum, Boston University Art Gallery, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She has presented major solo exhibitions of artists Keith Haring and Julianne Swartz, and her wide-ranging curatorial interests have spanned topics such as mid-century abstraction, Mexican photography, and weaving in contemporary art. Arauz was co-curator of the 2019 exhibition In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 for the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine. In addition to serving as juror and visiting critic for various organizations, Arauz has written for Hyperallergic about her museum experience as a “minority intern” in the 1990s, and was a Visiting Scholar at Virginia Commonwealth University in autumn 2023 in the Department of Craft/Material Studies.


Rowland Ricketts

Rowland Ricketts utilizes natural dyes and historical processes to create contemporary textiles that span art and design. Trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan, Rowland received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2005 and is a Professor in Indiana University’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design. A recipient of United States Artists & Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowships, his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art- Jacksonville, and the Denver Botanic Gardens.


Namita Gupta Wiggers

Namita Gupta Wiggers is an educator, writer, curator, and artist based in Portland, OR. Wiggers founded and directed the MA in Critical Craft Studies, Warren Wilson College from 2017-2023. Wiggers directs and co-founded Critical Craft Forum, and served as the Director and Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR from 2004-2014. Her most recent publication is This is not a Retreat, co-edited with Ben Lignel for The MACR Papers (online). Her research has been supported by a Senior Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution; Fields of the Future Fellowship, Bard Graduate Center; Inaugural Writer-in-Residence, Center for Art and Research, University of Oregon; Curatorial Residency, Norwegian Crafts; International Programme for Visual and Applied Arts, Sweden; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and The Center for Craft, Asheville, NC.


Fiber art is thriving in Minnesota, and the field’s growth as an artistic discipline now includes the McKnight Artist Fellowships Program, which provides two $25,000 fellowships to be awarded each year to individual midcareer fiber artists living and working in Minnesota.

In addition to the $25,000 unrestricted award and public recognition in support of their studio work and practice, McKnight Fiber Artist Fellows receive:

  • Critiques/studio visits with curators and critics from the field.
  • Exhibition at the end of the fellowship period in the galleries at Textile Center.
  • Professional photographic documentation of work at the end of the fellowship period.
  • Participation in a public discussion or presentation of their work and creative practices.
  • Professional development support, such as attending conferences, workshops, and marketing advice for their work; plus consultation sessions from artist career consultants at Springboard for the Arts on topics of their choice.
  • Participation in a 1 – 2 week artist residency in partnership with McKnight and Artist Communities Alliance.
  • Membership to Textile Center and access to Textile Center’s resources, including library of more than 32,000 books and periodicals, state-of-the-art dye lab, and artisan shop opportunities.

The intent of the McKnight Fellowships for Fiber Artists is to recognize and support talented Minnesota fiber and textile artists whose work is of exceptional artistic merit. These fellowships are in support of individual artists who are at a career stage beyond emerging. Fiber Artists, as defined for the purposes of this fellowship, are artists who use textile and fiber arts materials, processes, histories, traditions, and/or sensibilities in their artistic practice throughout the conception, execution, and resolution of their work. The fellowships are funded by the McKnight Foundation and administered by Textile Center.


Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s Arts & Culture program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1982. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 15 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $2.8 million per year to its statewide fellowships. To learn more about McKnight Artist Fellowships, visit: mcknight.org/artistfellowships.


The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research. mcknight.org

A focus on racial equity is at the heart of the McKnight approach to funding. Along with Textile Center, our organizations value diversity and equity, seeking to be inclusive and accessible to all applicants. We welcome and encourage applications from artists representing diverse cultural perspectives.