Fargo studio creates honorary student artist program

The effort at Dakota Fine Art in downtown is meant to help propel young professionals.

Artist Yuki Coyle is featured this month as part of the Dakota Fine Art Honorary Student Artist program to propel young professionals working in the field. Dakota Fine Art / Special to the Forum

FARGO — For creative types just getting their foot in the door of the local art scene, there’s no better feeling than displaying work in a gallery setting.

Surrounded by friends and family to share in celebrating what could represent days, weeks or even months of work propped up on walls for everyone to see, there’s an energy in the air wherever people gather in the name of art.

As a recent graduate of North Dakota State University, artist Emily Mulvaney set out to offer fellow artists opportunities when she spearheaded an honorary artist program at a local gallery.

“As far as being a young, emerging artist, whether you're a student or not, it's really hard to get those first opportunities,” Mulvaney says.


Emily Mulvaney at her 2019 fall baccalaureate reception exhibiting “Biophelia,” including fabrications in white plaster of found objects from nature. Special to the Forum

After graduating with a degree in art last year, Mulvaney reached out to Dakota Fine Art, 11 Eighth St. S., about working at the gallery — reconnecting with mentor Steve Revland to expand on an initiative that started several years ago to help launch student artists' professional careers.

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In 2017, Mulvaney worked with the Revland Gallery, which was formerly located on Broadway in downtown Fargo, to create the START Project, exhibiting six student paintings on the facade of the temporary space including her own work.

“Making that connection with Steve has been one of the most important connections that I've made in the area arts community,” Mulvaney says.

Work from six young artists was featured on the top of this now-demolished building on Broadway in downtown Fargo as part of the START Project. Special to the Forum

Reconnecting through her new position at Dakota Fine Art and expanding on the effort to feature student work, Mulvaney set out to invite artists studying at universities in the area to submit their work to be featured at the gallery for a month.


Two student artists, chosen by gallery members, have been featured so far as part of the program. Additional artists will be announced next year.

“It has to stand up next to all the other artists that are on our guest wall, but it also needs to stand out, you know. It needs to be something interesting and fresh,” Mulvaney says.

In November, NDSU student Jacob Schwitalla kicked off the honorary student program with a dreamy riverscape featuring a “forgotten” ship, a photograph he took on a trip to Ireland.

“Forgotten” by Jacob Schwitalla. Special to the Forum

From swirling scenes in overexposed portraits to collage and painted pieces, Schwitalla works in a diverse range of media that blend together in a collective burst of color and shadows.

“I expect life to move much faster than it does, while wishing for life to slow down at the same time,” Schwitalla says in an Instagram post.


This month, artist Yuki Coyle is featured with her watercolor piece entitled “Sugamo,” a dreamy memory from a recent visit to see family in Tokyo, Japan.

“The small details are very interesting to me, because even little street signs are very different from other cultures,” she says about the piece.

A sophomore studying art at North Dakota State University, Yuki Coyle’s dreamy street scene in watercolor was chosen as the featured student work for the month of December at Dakota Fine Art. Special to the Forum

A sophomore at NDSU, Coyle works primarily in paint, but also enjoys ceramics and photography. This summer, she created a large mural outside the Aikido North Wind Aikikai martial arts school on Main Avenue in Fargo.

With a growing network and direct connection to artists working in the community, Mulvaney’s work with Dakota Fine Art has solidified a few tips in her mind for emerging artists.

“Research other artists like crazy, visit galleries and look at the artists they represent. That gives you a really good idea of how professional artists are represented and the kind of work that gallerists are looking for,” Mulvaney says.


“Sugamo” by Yuki Coyle. Special to the Forum

Students studying at NDSU, Minnesota State University Moorhead or Concordia College are eligible to be featured in the honorary student artist exhibition, with a single work in either 2D and 3D. The work must be on display and for sale for a full month.

For more information, email

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit

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