Sharon Mansur
Photo by Stan Barouh.

Local artists and museum recognized with 2018 Fine Arts Commision Award


(9/17/2018)

Minnesota Marine Art Museum
Minnesota Marine Art Museum


Sheena Gifford-Whitesett
Sheena Gifford-Whitesett


The Winona Fine Arts Commission (FAC) will honor two highly creative movement artists who both often work directly with the Winona community, and one of the most cherished and important arts organizations in the region, with the 2018 Fine Arts Commission awards. The 2018 recipients are Sheena Gifford-Whitesett, Sharon Mansur, and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM). The purpose of the FAC award is to identify individuals and organizations that should be recognized for their support and/or contributions to the arts in and around Winona.

Chair Theresa Remick and members of the FAC will recognize the 2018 Fine Arts Commission Award recipients on Monday, September 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Winona City Council meeting during the mayoral comments. All are invited to attend.

Sheena Gifford-Whitesett

Sheena Gifford has been heavily involved in the arts in the Winona community since 2003 when she moved here to attend Winona State University (WSU). She was involved in both theater and dance at WSU, performed with the MCA Dance Repertory, taught at a local dance studio, and did choreography for area middle and high school musicals! Upon graduation, Gifford did some traveling and exploring but always felt that Winona was her home and ended up back here permanently.

Gifford has received numerous choreography awards, Nationals invitations, and has trained many students that have received special awards or scholarships. Although Gifford has accomplished much in her field, she is most proud of beginning SG Danceworkz and Fitness Studio in September 2015. Gifford began her first year with 55 students and now has 150, ranging in ages from two-years old through adults. Gifford wanted the studio to be heavily involved in the community and looked at ways for her, the studio, and the students to give back. She started a community scholarship fund to provide scholarships to area kids that are not able to afford classes. In 2016, after completing the first year of the studio, Gifford decided to start a SG Performance Company. The performance company learns dances to share with the Winona community, and they perform at local nursing and assisted living homes, fundraising events, and other community events. In addition to the performances, the kids involved in the company are also required to do at least five community service hours throughout their year involvement in the company.

Gifford-Whitesett also has taught for numerous other organizations in town, including the YMCA, Community Education, Park and Recreation, Winona State University, St. Mary’s University, and the Winona Friendship Center. In her free time, she travels with her dance students to regional competitions and conventions, and also travels nationally to teach master classes, set choreography, and judges for a national dance competition called “Hype.”

Sharon Mansur

Sharon Mansur is a Winona-based contemporary dance and visual artist, educator, curator, mover and shaker. Mansur’s creative practice and research integrates improvisational techniques, somatic practices, and interdisciplinary collaborative approaches. She has a keen interest in aspects of identity and site-responsive art, weaving the visual and visceral, body and space, internal and external landscapes. She is also committed to dance as a transformational and healing catalyst for individuals and communities. Her performance/installation projects and dance films have been presented throughout the United States and abroad, and since spring 2016, she has curated SHIFT~ performance salons at the Infinity Yoga Studio in Winona. Mansur received support from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council for her 2017 “Dreaming Under a Cedar Tree” performance/installation/community meal project reflecting on her Arab-American identity. She is currently curating a related Cedar Tree Project performance/exhibition series for the 2018-2019 season, presented by the Page Series in partnership with Outpost Winona. Mansur received an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board for the “... in the space between” site-specific dance film with community workshops and screenings, and was recently named a 2018 McKnight Dance Fellow. Go to www.mansurdance.com for more.


Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Winona, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum’s mission is to engage visitors in meaningful visual art experiences that explore the ongoing and historic human relationship with water. Opened in July 2006, with expansions in 2009, 2013 and 2014, MMAM houses six galleries of art. Three of those galleries are home to one of the highest quality collections of 19th- and 20th-century European and American art in the Midwest, with works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, John James Audubon and Georgia O’Keefe, as well as Emanuel Leutze’s iconic “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” The remaining three galleries feature a robust schedule of eight to 10 temporary exhibitions a year highlighting contemporary artists and historic exhibitions on loan from other institutions.

MMAM has developed a wide variety of programs for all ages, from toddlers to seniors living with memory loss, and was built to interpret and highlight the collections and exhibitions while building strong connections within the community. In 2018 was the development of the Second Saturday program, a monthly program aimed at removing barriers to museum visitorship through the granting of a prestigious Arts Access Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Through its quality of exhibitions and growing schedule of programs, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum has seen steady growth in attendance and engagement and has been recognized as an imported part of the region’s artistic renaissance.

The city of Winona Fine Arts Commission exists to promote, educate and facilitate efforts concerning the performing, literary and visual arts in the Winona area. The commission serves as a resource for the community, artists and art organizations, and serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council on arts and humanities initiatives.

For additional information on the city of Winona Fine Arts Commission, contact Winona Arts and Culture Coordinator Lee Gundersheimer at lgundersheimer@ci.winona.mn.us or 507-457-8255.

 

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