Meet the 9 local artists who got grants for their work in ceramics, painting, neon and public art

Recipients of the 2020 Individual Arts Partnership grants include (clockwise, from top left) Catie Miller, Alicia Underlee Nelson, Brad Bachmeier, Kelli Sinner, Ellen Jean Diederich, Sabrina Hornung, Chris Orth, Tara Fermoyle and Kenneth Anderson. Design by Ethan Mickelson / The Arts Partnership

FARGO — To cultivate a unique arts community full of vibrant and diverse crafts, The Arts Partnership awards grants annually to encourage growth through projects, classes and exhibitions backed by real dollars.

This year, TAP is set to award nearly $36,000 to a total of 18 artists, including visual artists and musicians. We introduced the nine recipients of music grants in last week's feature.

Of the total of 18 artists selected for grants this year, the other half focus solely on the visual side of things, working to add color, content and light to the local community and beyond.

The projects submitted are judged by a panel of jurors to determine how the work will impact individual artistic growth. For recipients, the grants are also the perfect opportunity to try new things, or in the case of Ellen Jean Diederich, a chance to change up her technique in a craft she's dedicated her life to.

Ellen Jean Diederich


Ellen Jean Diederich, the owner of Ellen Jean Diederich Studios, works in watercolor and acrylic as well as publishes greeting cards and books on her site Special to The Forum

"I need to explore and keep myself fascinated," Diederich says. "I'm hoping I will become a better artist because of this grant."

A prominent watercolor artist and educator, Diederich will receive $2,100 to attend a workshop on acrylic painting. She plans to translate her focus on fluid florals, animals and landscapes into painterly forms, challenging her to create with effortless brushstrokes.

Chris Orth

Chris Orth, the founder of Fireline Neon, has a hand in many of downtown Fargo’s most iconic signs including recent additions to businesses, such as Marge’s Bar in Roberts Alley or BernBaum’s on Broadway. Ethan Mickelson / The Arts Partnership

"I consider it a piece of public sculpture in a sense, just because of what it adds to a community,” Chris Orth of Fireline Neon says about his newest sign for BernBaum's on Broadway in Fargo.

The neon artist will receive $2,500 toward certification that will allow for more flexibility to build and install his renowned work. Orth has a background in software design and began working with neon in 1999, now working full time on his business.

His keen sense for decoding user experiences translate into authenticity of craft.


"If you've got the real 'Mona Lisa' and a poster of the 'Mona Lisa,' it can be as detailed as your eyes can pick up, but it's going to feel like two completely different things," he says.

Alicia Underlee Nelson

Alicia Underlee Nelson is the founder of and the author of a local book on craft beer. She documents local culture and explores cities across the country. Special to The Forum

The freelance writer and photographer explores travel, culture and entertainment in her all-encompassing blog Alicia Underlee Nelson seeks out art in places big and small.

"There are lots of ways that people can dive into public arts, whether they are able to get in the car and go in person or not," she says about her postcard project featuring local works.

Nelson will receive $1,250 toward photographing site-specific art throughout the state to showcase on postcards and online. The artist cites yarn-bombing as her first awakening to the street art form. She is also the author of "North Dakota Beer: A Heady History."


Sabrina Hornung

Sabrina Hornung adds another dimension to her geeky love for all-things-crafty with the traditional Norwegian folk art of rosemaling. Photo by Raul Gomez / Special to The Forum

Editor of the High Plains Reader, a Fargo-Moorhead alternative weekly publication, Sabrina Hornung will get $1,050 to further her passion for rosemaling. The artist will receive funds to attend a workshop at the Duluth Folk School and to supply materials for a project aimed at cross-contaminating fold art with street art.

"Oh, there's so many great pockets of culture out there!" Hornung says. "And the thing is, with Dakota artists, the hardest part is, you know, admitting that you're an artist."

Catie Miller

In her draw-and-transfer approach to ceramics, Catie Miller lets personal stories lead her design themes, such as the beetle, inspired by a bolo tie her grandfather wore at his funeral, signifying rebirth. Special to The Forum

With work instantly recognized for its whimsy and sketchy approach, Catie Miller combines her passion for printmaking and ceramics to explore ever-evolving patterns of flowers, bugs and fine-tooth combs. She will receive a grant of $1,300 to work with photographer Penny Burns of Northern Stories to capture lifestyle shots incorporating her products.

"When you are the artist making the work, you're so close to it," Miller says. "It will be nice to have her to look at the work through a different lens."


Brad Bachmeier

Brad Bachmeier is a notable faculty member of Minnesota State University. Her received the Art Educators of Minnesota Higher Art Educator of the Year Award in 2018. Special to The Forum

To support his project called "Conservation Through Clay," a national traveling exhibition debuting at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, ceramicist Brad Bachmeier will receive $2,500 towards completing his work to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Supported in part by the North Dakota Council on the Arts, Bachmeier's first experience as an artist-in-residence at Lewis and Clark State Park turned into five more residencies over six years.

"I was on Lewis and Clark's path and I could stop and see exactly what they described when they went through 200 years ago," says Bachmeier. "Instead of what they saw, all of a sudden I could count 14 flaring oil wells. It wasn't an intention of mine, but all of a sudden conservation concerns imposed themselves very loudly."

Bringing his organically perfect pottery to a national level, Bachmeier leads as an educator and throughout organizations in Fargo-Moorhead .

"I've always felt it a responsibility for art teachers to not only be the expert in their building, but for the community," Bachmeier says.


More grantees

  • $2,500 to ceramicist Tara Fermoyle to purchase a kiln and supplies for Fermie Studios.
    Tara Fermoyle. Special to The Forum
  • $2,500 to ceramicist Kelli Sinner towards creating a series of prints on handmade paper that will be custom-framed for exhibit.
    Kelli Sinner. Special to The Forum
  • $1,650 to photographer Kenneth Anderson to create a series of large-format film photographs depicting military and combat trauma, featuring veterans from the Vietnam era through today.
    Kenneth Anderson. Special to The Forum

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

What To Read Next
Get Local