Macrophotography depicting plant formations and structures.

Resident Artists

Highlighting artists who live and work in Minnesota

Since 1872, the museum has collected, preserved, interpreted, and displayed the natural history of Minnesota as the state’s official natural history museum. With the opening of a new facility in July 2018 that includes a state-of-the-art digital planetarium and a five-acre outdoor learning landscape, its role is expanding to become the gateway to the sciences at the University of Minnesota. While natural history remains a bedrock for the Bell, astronomy and space science, health and medicine, agriculture and the environment, and other areas afford the museum opportunities for new partnerships and experiences for public engagement.

RARP is made possible in part thanks to the generous support provided by the McKnight Foundation.

This program offers artists from all disciplines a unique opportunity to engage with Bell Museum curators and staff, University of Minnesota research, scientific collections, and other extraordinary resources while exploring the potential of art as a medium to interpret science in the public realm.

Applications for the 2022-2023 Resident Artist program are now closed.

2019/20 Residents

Our museum-based artist residency program invites dynamic candidates from all disciplines to investigate artistic practice as a lens for science discovery in four, 12-15 week residencies taking place over the span of 18 months.

Anna Cerelia Battistini - Twin Cities

Anna in her workshop

Anna is a sculpture and fiber artist from St. Paul, who specializes in large, internally lit lanterns created in the tradition of British lantern festivals using willow and rattan. Through her practice, which often includes community participation and public display, she sees the lanterns as having the capacity to capture the inner essences or Platonic forms of species.

Anna’s research focused on extinct and currently threatened species from our region, and she created a visual representation of what we have lost in her installation Illuminating Forms.

Illuminating Forms: Shedding Light on Endangered Species (blog post)

Mike Shaw – Twin Cities

Mike stargazing

Mike is an award-winning astrophotographer, author, and speaker. He was previously a physics and astronomy professor and worked as an applied physics research scientist for over ten years. His field workshops take him and his students around the globe in search of the darkest, clearest skies.

Mike plans to develop immersive visualizations and experiences that showcase the night sky, Earth’s place within it, and the effects of light pollution in Minnesota—both in Greater Minnesota and the metro area.

Fifty Nights under the Stars: Finding Minnesota’s Dark Skies

Experiencing Minnesota’s Dark Night Skies (blog post)

Nightscapes: Thousand Star Views From Across Minnesota (live planetarium talk)

Donald Thomas - Twin Cities

RARP artist Donald Thomas

Donald is a community artist and a member of the Million Artist Movement. He creates in the forms of fabric art, murals, graphic design, and photography with an eye for the woven connections we create and experience daily. His work is inspired by nature, identity, the inner/outer cosmos, black/collective liberation, and healing journeys.

Donald is interested in making art that inspires people to be in nature, creating installations that give the community an opportunity to make art, and learning from science as well as indigenous knowledge.

A Bird’s Eye View of Climate Change (blog post)

Josh Winkler – Mankato

Josh making art in the woods

Josh works uses a range of drawing, printmaking, and sculptural processes to build layered landscape narratives that ask viewers to consider the social, political and environmental contexts of their surroundings. Currently an associate professor of printmaking at Minnesota State University-Mankato, Josh has exhibited work nationally and internationally and is a recipient of a 2019 Minnesota State Arts Board grant.

Josh will explore greater Minnesota and metro natural areas to create tangible connections for museum visitors to Minnesota forests while celebrating art and promoting art-making in outdoor spaces.

Josh’s installations at the Bell (blog post)

Geocaching activity (blog post)

2019/20 Showcase Artists

Each residency cycle also features showcase artists, who exhibit previously created works deemed outstanding during the residency selection process.

Kathy McTavish – Duluth

Kathy is a sound and video installation artist with a background in mathematics, ecology, music theory, and software development. Chance, a recent installation at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. Kathy is also a 2019-2020 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow.

Becka Rahn – Twin Cities

Becka is a textile artist interested in pattern and in engaging with museum collections through pattern making. She is an experienced teacher and coauthor of The Spoonflower Handbook, a guide to all things fabric design. You may have encountered her when she was a guest maker in the Solution Studio in 2018.

Flora & Pharma: Medicinal Plants and Pandemic Attire

Michael Wilson – Pierz

Mike is an electronic musician whose current work uses field recordings of animals and their environments as a means of exploring the position of humans in a world undergoing climate and other change. His work is informed by his participation in traditional Anishinaabe seasonal cycle, including fishing and wild ricing. Mike is an archivist for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

iskigamizige mnemonic (video)

On how history influences his work (blog post)

2017/18 Residents

Alison Heimstead

Alison is a director and designer of puppet theater. Learn more at

Christopher Lutter-Gardella

Chris is a designer and inventor whose work often involves waste-stream materials. Learn more at

Jeff Millikan

Jeff creates provocative moods and narratives through staged photographic images, immersive installations, and quirky captions. Learn more at

Erin Sharkey

Erin is a poet, essayist, producer, educator, graphic designer, community organizer, and co-founder of the Free Black Dirt artist collective. Learn more at