2008-2009 Artist Panel

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

Ta-coumba Aiken (2008-2010) is an artist and teacher who uses his artwork to "heal the hearts and souls of people and communities by evoking a positive spirit." Since arriving in Minnesota from Evanston, Illinois in 1970, Aiken's work has become entwined with the architecture of the Twin Cities. As a muralist, his canvas is often the neighborhoods in which he works. His style is a maze of lines and layers of color, which he refers to as "rhythm patterns," which become messages or empowerment and spirituality. Aiken's work calls to the elements in life: the music, the wind the whistles, the sound of the dancers' breath. Aiken's public works can be seen throughout the Twin Cities and around the country. His MAEP shows include Spirit House (1988) and Call and Response (2008). Ta-coumba Aiken's Web site.



Tom DeBiaso (2007-2009) is a Professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He established the Media Arts Department and the Master of Fine Arts degree program at MCAD where he has taught a wide range of courses and served as Dean of Studio Programs. He was a Visiting Professor at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany and has had a life long commitment to teaching and the advancement of art and design education. His creative work has involved over fifty solo and group exhibitions as well as visiting artist's presentations in a variety of venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Artists Space, Harvard University, Pasadena Film Forum, University of Southern California, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, SIGGRAPH and the Walker Art Center. He has served on the Minnesota Governor’s Commission on the Arts, the Minneapolis City Arts Commission, the Minnesota Arts in Education Board and was founder of Film In The Cities. His professional clients include Job Corps, The Guthrie Theater Lab, TC LISC and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Currently he is a board member of IFP Minnesota Center for Media Arts, a panelist with the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and an academic program evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Colleges of Art and Design. His creative work over the past several years has involved filmmaking and fine arts photography. He has a passion for Mid-Century design and is an avid collector of German, Italian and Scandinavian ceramics and objects. His MAEP shows include State: State of the Art/Art: Art of the State (1976), Visscher, DeBiaso, Breidel, Akagawa (1977), and Situation Ethics (1988).


Billy X. Curmano (2008-2010) is an award winning former McKnight Foundation Interdisciplinary Art Fellow. He was trained as a painter and sculptor (If, of course, painters and sculptors can be trained). His more traditional objects have been exhibited both here and abroad since a first solo show in 1970. Notably, his paintings represented the USA in the “III Vienna Graphikbiennale.” His works are included at the Museum of Modern Art Library and other prestigious collections.

Billy X. is probably best known for eccentric “Live art.” During one extended performance and environmental statement, he swam from the source of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The mayors of St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, and New Orleans all proclaimed Billy X. Curmano Day in their cities.

He was buried alive for three days in 1983, created a Tiger Cage on Wheels that focused attention on political prisoners and performed for cows with a busload of baffled tourists looking on. He marked the Millennium in Death Valley with a 40-day, juice and water fast and traveled thousands of miles on public transportation to bring a 10-minute greeting from the Mississippi to the Arctic Sea. Amused journalists have dubbed him, “The Court Jester of Southeastern Minnesota” with comparisons to P.T. Barnum, Andy Warhol, and Marcel Duchamp. Billy Curmano's Web site.


Jim Denomie (2007-2009) was born in Hayward, Wisconsin on July 6, 1955 and currently lives in Franconia, MN. Primarily a painter, he also works with ink and oil pastel drawings, and employs printmaking, photography, and found object sculpture.

In 1995, Denomie received a BFA degree from the University of Minnesota. Since then, he has shown extensively in the U.S. and in Germany in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His work has been placed in the permanent collections of numerous museums as well as many other public and private collections. Also, Denomie’s work has been included in local and national publications and he is the recipient of several prestigious grants and awards.

In 2005, Denomie completed a task of painting at least one painting a day for one year. Much of the work was showcased in the exhibition New Skins at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2007, and he was named one of City Pages “Artists of the Year” for 2007. In 2008, he was awarded a Bush Artists Fellowship and in 2009, an Eiteljorg Native American Fine Art Fellowship. Jim Denomie's Web site.


Megan Rye (2007-2009) is represented by Forum Gallery in New York City. She received her BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998, and went on to complete her MFA in Painting at the University of Minnesota. In 2005 she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Rye is the recipient of a 2008 McKnight Foundation Fellowship; 2007 and 2004 Minnesota State Arts Board Grants; and the 2005 Jerome Foundation Fellowship. Her work is included in private collections across the country. In 2007 her first solo exhibition, I Will Follow You Into the Dark was held at the MAEP, and in 2008 her second solo exhibition, "Long Night's Journey Into Day," debuted at the Chambers Hotel. Megan Rye's Web site


Lyz Wendland (2008-2010) is an artist from the Twin Cities area and recently graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with her MFA in Visual Studies. While there her work consisted of combining sculptural, installation and drawing elements. While focusing on form and repetition, during her last year her works became more site-specific and concentrate on creating a unique and quite environment for the viewer.

Lyz is also active in the Minneapolis arts community as is also a continuing volunteer for the Soap Factory. During her last year of graduate school she also Co-founded a graduate critique group with the University of Minnesota’s MFA program.

Her work has been shown numerously in local galleries, most recently: Rosalux Gallery, the Concourse gallery at MCAD and Intermedia Arts. Nationally at, The Berkeley Art Center in Berkeley, CA, APW Gallery in NY and an upcoming three-person show at The Main Gallery in Las Vegas. Lyz Wendland's Web site.


Bill Wormley (2007-2009) "is a large Germanic/Viking type by nature, with broad shoulders and a round belly. His face is covered with a few days' growth of whitish stubble; his hair is cut close, revealing the shape of his skull." (City Pages, Michael Fallon, 2001) Wormley is also an artist, art promoter, and supporter of the Minnesota artist community.