Heart of Our City Artists


Samsam Ali was born in Minnesota and raised in the UK. She loves reading, learning languages and poetry. Coming back to Minnesota after a long time made her reflect on the beauty of nature as she started to marvel at the clear blue sky, the clear lakes that flow and the many luscious trees that change with the season.

Amina Hasan is an 18-year-old poet. Amina has had five poems published either online, in print, or shown for an exhibit. Last year, Amina’s poem, “What is Freedom?” was selected for the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride exhibit. She had also won her high school’s poetry contest and had her poem “Wisdom Tooth & Love” published in the yearbook.

Julie Hathaway has spent her career working in education and research. She currently lives in Rochester. She has been writing for as long as she can remember, and more recently started writing poetry. She loves the challenge of crafting a story or capturing a moment using a minimum of words. Her poems have been published in numerous regional anthologies. This poem is best read aloud.

P.S. Duffy is a writer whose books include The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, a novel set in France and Nova Scotia during the First World War. Published in five countries, it was a Barnes and Noble Discover selection, an Oprah book of the week, and a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She and her husband, Joe, have lived for thirty-two years near the Mayowood Trailhead, where they walk in all seasons.

Rylee Klassen is a graduate of Century High School in Rochester, MN. Growing up in Minnesota, they developed a healthy love for Midwest winters, taxidermy, and hospital hand sanitizer, as well as writing poetry and flash fiction. Other pieces of Rylee’s can be found in Georgia Southern University’s 2020 High School Edition of the writing journal Fledge, or on scattered typewriter papers across their desk.

David Kujawa’s family moved to Rochester in 1998 when he was four. He grew up in Rochester and now works for Mayo Clinic. David started writing haiku as an exercise in meditation within the last year to center himself in the present moment.

Susan McMillan is a lifelong poet whose work has appeared in local, regional, national, and international publications, as well as many collaborative projects. She is a senior editor for the online journal, RockPaperPoem, as well as a co-creator of Bright Light Stories in the Night, an e-chapbook and virtual program. Originally from Michigan, she has resided in Rochester for over 40 years. She was appointed the city’s Poet Laureate in 2019.

Anne Owen Shea grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband Brendan and four-year-old son Harry. She received a MA in English from Iowa State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared in Indiana Review, Memoir Magazine, and it is forthcoming in Cimarron Review and River Styx literary magazine. Anne teaches Reading at Hawthorne Education Center, and English for MN State College Southeast.

Jean Prokott’s poetry collection The Second Longest Day of the Year won the Howling Bird Press Prize (Howling Bird Press). She is author of the chapbook The Birthday Effect (Black Sunflowers Poetry Press) and is a recipient of the AWP Intro Journals Award and of the League of Minnesota Poets’ Grand Prize. She has poetry in Rattle, Verse Daily, and Arts & Letters, among other journals. She lives in Rochester and online at jeanprokott.com.

John Sievers is an English professor at Rochester Community and Technical College. His poems have been featured in “Bright Lights Stories in the Night” and at Rochester’s Discovery Square. He’s written a new haiku for the last 945 days. He’s a husband, father, and trombonist.

Pam Sinicrope served as an editor for Howling Bird Press and has an MFA in poetry from Augsburg University. She is a senior poetry editor for the new journal, RockPaperPoem. Some of her poems are forthcoming or found in Rogue Agent, SWWIM, Spillway, The Night Heron Barks, Literary Mama, and 3 Elements Review. Pam lives in Rochester, MN. She has a doctorate in Public Health and engages in research to eliminate cancer health disparities.

Steven R. Vogel has been writing poetry since childhood. He has lived and worked (in three distinct regions of the country) on farms, in villages, in midsized cities, and in metropolitan areas. He is a graduate of Bemidji State University and Mayo Medical School and has worked in medicine (Family Medicine and Geriatrics) and academia for more than four decades, including teaching Anatomy and Physiology. His poetry has been published nationally and overseas.

Dr. Pam Whitfield is an English professor, certified resilience trainer, and horse industry professional. She was awarded MnSCU Educator of the Year in 2010 and Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year in 2011. Pam has published poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, academic scholarship, and a relationship column. She lives in Rochester and performs in poetry slams and local theatre. She also teaches riding lessons and judges horse shows across the country.


Janie Allen is a visual artist currently residing in Rochester, MN. She received a BFA in Painting and Art History from the University of Kansas; and she later went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Cytology from the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is interested in the space where art and science intersect.

Lisa Becker is an abstract nature photographer and video artist based locally. Creating images of the natural world, her work allows endless exploration of the nearby state parks, finding new inspiration with each season. Lisa has been teaching art in public schools for 21 years. Currently she teaches at John Marshall High School. She is proud to be part of the national Art21 Educators group with a focus on innovative teaching in contemporary art.

Haley Bice received her MA in Business Design and Arts Leadership from SCAD in 2018. She also has a BA in Art History and Fine Art from SCSU and an ASc in Graphic Design from RCTC. Haley works as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Channel One Food Bank and she volunteers on the board of Art on the Ave. Along with these positions, she is also a freelance social media manager and graphic designer who can be found at halebi.myportfolio.com.

Sarah Gupta lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her husband, son, and a few furry kids. She is a natural light photographer who uses dark and light contrasts to create depth. Sarah is drawn to environmental portraiture, lifestyle photography, fine art, nature. Sarah is attracted to the light, which was used by painters of the golden age. In the spring of 2019, Sarah released her first eBook: The Art of The Photograph.

Isy Köhler is a Century High School student. She started taking photographs during Quarry Hill summer camps and enjoys taking pictures outdoors on family walks and hikes. She also enjoys theater, piano, and soccer.

First introduced to photography during high school, Justin Kreuter rediscovered his enthusiasm at the beginning of the pandemic. The digital camera became a powerful learning tool for him. Despite his repetitive walks during lunch breaks and open weekends, the lens allowed him to reframe and see our community in new light.

Charles LaRue enjoys the process of creating, which he finds fun.

Kenna Sandborn’s focus in her life has been one of finding creative outlets that speak to her inner most spirit and love of the beauty of art, poetry and music. Her work as an interior designer has led her down many paths of creativity, but most of all, her free spirit has always joined with others in the song of new horizons and the appreciation of the amazing creative gift of others.

Rick Swanson’s interest in photography reaches back to the summer of 1974, when he took a summer school class in his school district and first held a 35mm camera in his hands. Not until 1979 did he acquire his own 35mm – an Olympus OM-1n, which he still has and occasionally uses. Even in the digital age, Rick still shoots black and white film, which he develops himself using coffee as the developer.


Rachel Brokenicky is excited to be a part of the art world here in Rochester. She is a member and board member responsible for social media at Gallery 24. Rachel primarily paints with acrylic or watercolor, but she loves to work digitally as well. She studied fine arts in college and later completed a program in graphic design and illustration.


Lisa Higgs is the recipient of a 2022 Minnesota State Arts Board grant providing creative support for individual Minnesota artists. Her third chapbook, Earthen Bound, was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in February 2019. Her poetry has been published in Third Coast, ZYZZYVA, Folio, Rhino, Sugar House Review, and WaterStone Review, among others, and her poem “Wild Honey Has the Scent of Freedom” was awarded 2nd Prize in the 2017 Basil Bunting International Poetry Prize. Her reviews and interviews can be found at the Poetry Foundation, Kenyon Review Online, the Adroit Journal, and the Colorado Review.