Uniquely Des Moines/Urban

Des Moines/Urban offers opportunities beyond a great learning environment. Learn more about the DMACC Des Moines and ways you can get the most from what we offer.

Sustainable Urban

See DMACC Des Moines/Urban's commitment to urban sustainability

Urban Vibe

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The Urban Vibe News is an independent student-run news organization for DMACC's Des Moines/Urban Campus. Access to the website is free to the public. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Contact: Aimee Langager, anlangager@dmacc.edu


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About the Artwork: American Girl was painted, as all my paintings are, using acrylic on canvas. The piece is 16x20 portrait style. The person in the photo is the daughter of a friend of mine. To me she represents the juxtaposition of ideas and realities our country faces every day.

Shane Freeman - About the Artist: Shane Freeman, is the artist who painted the piece titled American Girl. He specializes in photo realism and loves to portray the ideology of the subjects he uses. Keeping it subtle, sharp, and interesting, he really enjoys portraits and lifestyles. Facebook @dream-rooms-custom-themed-rooms

About the Artwork: I capture photography using a Sony DSLR + a prime lens. Digital editing in a style that I have curated over my 10 years in photography will be applied to the RAW file, finishing a cohesive work of digital art.This stormy sunset over downtown Des Moines looked exactly like this image. This piece is just about true to color on that evening. Nature astounds me, though I have always been particularly drawn to sunsets.

Paige Kleckner - About the Artist: Capturing sunsets became Paige’s thing as a DSM photographer. This night in particular was the most moving sunset she has seen. The energy was electric; the colors were vivid. She enjoys interpreting that uniquely to what feels right. She loves using art to manipulate an image, but sometimes the image doesn't need anything from the artist. She hopes to show how majestic nature can be alongside images of an otherworldly take. It's beautiful when the raw nature is otherworldly in itself. Instagram @paigeklecknerphoto

About the Artwork: This piece of work is a mashup of memorable Des Moines landmarks, in effort to engage the viewer. The original work is a mixed-media project complete with a graphicly designed print, acrylic paint, and charcoal pencil. The variety and contrast in shapes, lines, colors, and space in this piece come together to create a visual which highlights the beauty in architecture and rich history and diversity within our city.

Cara Shindler - About the Artist: Cara is moved by a fascination with the way that color, shape, and space work together – or against each other - to create a story. Each creation has a history and a meaning behind it, and I feel inspired to produce a visual experience that sparks memories and brings comfort to the viewers based on their own interpretation of what they see. As an artist she believes that she is constantly evolving. Cara loves finding new ways to create, express herself and experiment with color and texture. Her formal education is in graphic design, and because of that, many of her projects begin on the computer. She tends to favor mixed media pieces - combining plaster, charcoal & paint on a canvas or layered overtop of a photo/print. Instagram @artwork_by_cara

About the Artwork: This 'Des Moines Umbrella' piece in particular is a favorite of John's and is a true love letter to all things downtown Des Moines.

Bozz - About the Artist:Bozz Prints was founded by John Bosley (Bozz) in Des Moines, IA back in 2015. Specializing in prints, posters, and shirts, John grew Bozz Prints from its humble beginnings in his basement, to a full blown brick and mortar shop in West Des Moines’ Historic Valley Junction. Inspired by a love of travel, architecture, and the scenery that surrounds us, John is all about making timeless designs to honor the places and landmarks we all know and love. Instagram @bozzprints

About the Artwork: "Laurah" is a part of a series of minimal composition portraits from 2017. The series is painted over sharp amber color fields in acrylics. The warmth and intensity brings the subject into sharp focus emphasizing the vibrance in the individual.

Johnathan Fusco - About the Artist: Johnathan Fusco is an artist operating out of Des Moines, Iowa. Working primarily in drawing media and oils, his work explores identity, sexuality, body image, addiction, mental health, and form. Inspired by the classical traditions, he specializes in figurative work, erotica, surrealism, portraiture, and still life using energetic line work and a vivid palette. Instagram @jonathanfusco

About the Artwork: My work represents the collective and communal youth in the beginning moments what became the social movement of 2020. And the goal of this piece is to enter the viewers into a world where questioning what example we’re setting for our youth leads to a more colorful experience for us all. As some works are created as a protest, I suggest this work as a protest: a youthful protest against old barriers that keep us from growing.

Jacob Kuperman - About the Artist: Jacob is a Des Moines based, self-taught multidisciplinary art maker. His motivation is rooted in a daily need to learn, create, and directly shape the greater community. The images he produces embrace spontaneous gestures and simple lines to create what he perceives as an authentic form of expression. Interested and inspired by nature, imagination, homemade bread and our journey to create personal meaning, Jacob is an advocate for mental health, a better food system, and leaving any environment better than you found it. Instagram @kuperman.draws

About the Artwork: This is on denim work bibs. An experience of color motion. Celebration of new opportunities and freedom. The reward when time and health meant more than anything.

Ian Brent - About the Artist: Ian has lived in central Iowa all his life. He is building a business of painting custom auto finishes and native inspired jewelry. Ian also works helping a local artist painting custom patterns and murals. His colors are inspired by the 1980’s and street art. Instagram @mapletonpaint

About the Artwork: As a wedding and family photographer, Laura prides herself in finding and capturing the small and otherwise unnoticed in-between moments. She is most interested in the relationships between people and the stories they tell through their interactions. To photograph people is to always be studying the human connection; an endless task that she never tires of. Even with wedding and family photography, she enjoys finding ways to incorporate elements that are classic Iowa in her images.

Laura Wills - About the Artist: Laura is an Iowa native who takes pride in showcasing her ever-growing city. While her subjects are primarily people, she couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph the Capitol building while attending a party on the rooftop of a newly built downtown business and seeing the gold building from this new vantage point. Sitting in direct sun, the golden Capitol literally shone against the bright blue sky. Instagram @laurawillsphotography

About the Artwork: The work is entitled “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave”. It is a yoga chant which can translate to “I open my heart to the power of grace”. The focus of the man is up, which shows a hopefully journey in the future. This work can stand alone but also has a female companion piece which hangs above and looks down connecting to the man below. I view her as Mother Nature. I have attached a photo of both pictures below.

Paula McArthur - About the Artist: Paula is both a visual artist and professional dancer. Although different medium the art/design elements are the same. She uses the view of her visual art as permanent in time and dance performances as temporary but due to technology both those concepts are misconceptions. Video preserves dance performances and having Paula’s art work in a rotating visual art show makes it temporary. Instagram @vintagescottishpixie & @dsmdanzarts

About the Artwork: This piece was created in the height of the George Floyd protests. I was inspired by the huge number of young people of all races out in the streets demanding accountability and change. The Kids Want Peace honors and celebrates all those people fighting for a better world.

Ally Frame - About the Artist: Ally has struggled to consider herself an artist for a very long time as her work is lighthearted, not serious and deep. She is learning that what she creates is still art and serves a very important purpose - spreading joy. Every day she walks a fine line between being okay and spiraling with anxiety so it is important for her to create images that put a smile on her face. Ally’s hope in sharing her creations is that it will put a smile on someone else’s face and make their day okay too. Instagram @latergatorart

About the Artwork: I first saw the drummer boy sitting on the side of the road at a busy West Des Moines intersection drumming away on a white bucket while light snowflakes just started to fall. I rolled down my window to better hear him. It was such an unusual site, especially in an area with no pedestrian traffic. A few days later I saw him on television as his drumming was unique enough to get him a spotlight on the local news. The next year I saw him drumming outside the fairgrounds where I finally had a chance to talk to him. Later still, he showed up in my studio during an open studio event and I asked if I could paint his portrait.

Buffalo Bonker - About the Artist: Buffalo has been a portrait painter since he first learned to paint as a child. He enjoys the rapid and loose quality of acrylic painting with portraits that prevents a piece from being overworked. The human brain is wired to see faces and that makes it one of his favorite subjects. Instagram @buffalobonker_art

About the Artwork: For this piece, I stepped outside of my typical medium into the digital world, which allowed me to focus on my usual subject from a different perspective. In the physical world, I often use forces of nature such as gravity to manipulate the paint, but in this piece, I imagined what it would be like if gravity didn’t exist, and the natural elements I often portray were floating. This idea can be somewhat unsettling to those of who prefer a firm stance on the ground, but this piece has become a place I want to experience and float through.

Maggie Douglas - About the Artist: I see the natural world as living artwork, but so often the details of this magnificent creation go unnoticed: how the wind becomes a wave as it moves through tall grass, how the passage of time is evidenced in the colorful layers of rocks, or how a beautiful pattern forms behind a worm as it eats its way through a leaf. I work with mixed media to create abstract depictions of conversations between unpredictable natural forces and my subconscious memories of details I have encountered in the world. I employ processes that impact nature such as erosion, evaporation and gravity to bring in details that cannot be recreated by the human hand. Painting has become an ebb and flow between who I am as a natural being and how I am influenced by the culture around me.​ Instagram @mdouglas.studio

About the Arworkt: "You Are Strong" is a watercolor portrait of a woman from my neighborhood in north Des Moines. It was painted, with her permission, from a photograph I took of a fellow shopper at the grocery store. The piece was completed shortly after the Derecho rocked Iowa in August of 2020 and has come to represent resilience and strength within my community. She is surrounded by local wildflowers (Indian Paintbrush, wild sunflowers, wild roses, Blackeyed Susans, Queen Ann’s Lace, and Lupins) and crowed with a regal monarch.

Betty Walker - About the Artist: Betty Walker is an internationally recognized local, Des Moines-based, artist known for her watercolor and coffee paintings. You can also see her murals located within and on the windows of businesses within central Iowa. She works from her home in Des Moines, where she lives with her three boisterous boys, husband, and poodle. Instagram @bettywalkerstudio

About the Artwork: What we will overcome is a piece inspired by leaps of faith. A young African American girl takes a joyful leap away from knowledge, growth, home, love, direction, access, time, and balance. She leaps with full faith, reaching for the thing that will carry her…but this thing appears not to be strong enough to do so. This piece is about evoking wonder, playfulness, and tension; all the while spotlighting change and trust. In terms of my practice, this piece represents my desire to place conversations about black joy, faith and risk-taking into spaces and open them up for celebration and discussion.

Jill Wells - About the Artist: Art, for Jill, is about narration, advocacy work and connectivity. Exploring and investigating accessibility, race, gender, history, stereotypes, and human experiences is what her work focuses on. With endless inspirations to create from, she specialize in oil painting, murals, and mixed media. In Jill’s practice, her goal is to evoke internal or external conversations from observers, about complex issues, in the hopes of a positive outcome www.jillwellsart.com

About the Artwork: This work reflects the times where we feel like shattered glass but we must stand out in color regardless. Each shape reflects we're all made of different colors and sizes but we must piece together. No matter what, we have the ability to balance out and try to form our own lines. Though we try to walk a straight line, other lines get crossed in our path and we have the ability to push right through.

Kipp Davis - About the Artist: Kipp Davis is a graduate of Iowa State University, class of 2018. He travels inside the Midwest painting murals of all kinds. He engages in different types of fairs, festivals, events, ceremonies, and more. Some of his works lie in the cities outlining the Midwest and in between Instagram @kidartmx

About the Artwork: This image started from an original quote written in my sketchbook, “In times of great sorrow, she grew a sacred set of wings so that she might fly to the safety of the heavens." Universal reasons for beseeching strength and protection always come from the heart and are often sought for those we love. Somehow this simple truth blurs the lines of religion and hearkens back to a more ancient time of worship. Drawing strength from faith and hope seems so necessary for survival today. It is when we find ourselves in great peril that our longings and prayers are most pure.

Pamela Ballard - About the Artist: My exploration as an oil painter allows me to explore universal concepts and yearnings from a feminine perspective. Having grown up as a dancer, I intuitively use the physical gesture of the human form as the primary communicator within a composition. Feeling an affinity for both the Surrealist and Symbolist art movements, I try to convey underlying messages and mysteries within my paintings. It is equally significant for me to develop a purposeful ambiguity so that the viewer may have an authentic space to interpret and connect with my artwork. -Pamela Ballard Instagram @pamelaballard

About the Artwork: Streetwork explores interaction between two subjects and their environment and so much more. In this piece the main subject is walking while working on the phone to “…change the world”. This is a direct homage to Gigi Floyd who said, “My daddy changed the world,” after the death of George Floyd. Everything around the main subject is screeching to a halt to observe the changes that are being evoked. In the foreground, the subject is carrying a shopping bag and wrenching his neck to pay attention, while the cars in the background are stopping abruptly. In the background there are buried elements of the capitol representing the process and legal challenge that it takes to enable change. Lastly, there is also a noticeable, deconstructed Travelers umbrella in the background.

Ben Schuh - About the Artist: Ben is a professional artist living and working in the Des Moines Metro. His large scale studio is located in Polk City and he maintains another studio at Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines. Since graduating from Grand View University Ben has traveled the world looking for inspiration and promoting his paintings. He has exhibited in a number of national arts festivals and has collectors across the USA as well as in Canada and Europe.

About the Artwork: Title: Twelve Squared, Emerging from the void, one creates waves. The propagating waves grow and divide following the Fibonacci sequence. The twelfth wave connects back to the one that emerged. The waves from outside are reflected inside the one without division.

Todd Huffine - About the Artist: Focused on creating artwork based on number, shape and pattern. Using art to assemble and present knowledge as a way to search for truth and understanding. Number, shape and pattern used to visualize the relationship between symbols. Instagram @pegasus515

About the Artwork: Miradieu’s acrylic paintings have been described as colors swirling with disconnected body parts. He takes his style cues from Impressionist artists like Vincent Van Gogh, neighborhood graffiti artists, and artist friends he has met over the years. Miradieu continues to find ways to use his art as a means of conveying his internal struggles and his wish to change the world for the better. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his beautiful family and coaches Track and Field at Grand View University.

Miradieu Joseph - About the Artist: Born in St. Marc, Haiti and raised in Lake Worth, Florida, Miradieu Joseph’s style is inspired by the colors of his homeland and those he first noticed when he arrived in the United States. After graduating from Wartburg College in 2001 With a B.A. in Social Work and four years as an All-American and National Championship hurdler, he returned to his childhood use of art as a vehicle for expressing life’s events. Instagram @haitianboatman

Diversity is one of the meanings of freedom. And freedom is the key to being happy when humans live together in a diverse home.

Rachele JB - About the Artist: The family in Persia means gathering at Grandma and Grandpa's house with uncles and aunts and their kids every Friday. Staying overnight in their house is the happiest thing that could happen to the kids of the family. Because it means Grandma would tell them a fairy tale not from the book, from something she knows from her mom and her mom knows from her mom. Storytelling is a heritage in a family in Iran and nowadays, having access to the books makes it more accessible, and these books are primarily from folklore stories. Rachele grew up with lots of books from all over the world and, of course, her grandma's tales. Iran has vibrant literature; the first illustrated manuscript was found in Iran years ago. When I started to read Persian fables, her imagination also began to fly with those imaginative images from the stories, which inspired her to paint them on paper in her style. Very Persian detailed illustrations and mixing these fine details with satire gives her the idea of being unique in painting. Now, as an artist from Iran living in the United States, she has this chance to expand her inspirations from painting miniatures of humans and cities to the beautiful nature of Iowa and its local animals. This helps her blend her traditional background with contemporary times and let the children decide if they enjoy her picture book illustrations. Instagram @rahele_studio

About the Artwork: My piece is called The Nature of Chaos and is part of a larger series of paintings called There is Order, There is Chaos. The painting is 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas. There is Order, There is Chaos is a series about how chaos and order work together in nature and civilization. "The forest hurts when it burns, despite the fact that it grows anew, thriving more than before the flames. When our bones grow rapidly, there is physical pain. Evolution requires that which is unprepared for the new to be left behind. There is death but there is birth. Peace and struggle require each other. It's all a part of life's orderly chaos."

Jen Leatherby - About the Artist: Jennifer Leatherby is a multi media artist, hospice and mutual aid volunteer, abortion advocate, and full spectrum doula. Jen lives and works in Des Moines, Iowa where they co own Portrait Studio and companion people through birth, death, and abortion. Instagram @jenleatherbyart

About the Artwork:“Whip Smart”is a Manibus-translated self portrait derived from dance. It derives its name from a Liz Phair song by the same title which served as the music inspiration for the piece. The work is originally created in acrylic on clayboard measuring 14” x 11”. Manibus is a custom, movement-controlled robotic painting device that records the motion of dance into painted abstract art created by artist, Amenda Tate.

Amenda Tate - About the Artist: Amenda Tate is an Interdisciplinary Artist with a background in fine art and metalsmithing. She is an Iowa Creative Incubator Fellow and a 2019 - 2020 Iowa Arts Council Fellow. Her current focus is the Manibus Project in which dance is translated into painted works of art. Her work utilizes scientific and aesthetic processes to address topics such as identity, individuality, longevity, and the culture of social interaction in our digital era. Her works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the US.​ Instagram @AmendaTate

About the Artwork: Wood Nymph mixed media (oil and pencil), 30x20 Wood Nymph features an allegorical Spirit of Place. The Midwestern spirit perches on Grant Wood’s American Gothic window like a patron saint in a cathedral niche. The title, bib overalls and window are all a nod to Iowa artist Grant Wood. The geometry that forms the Gothic arch represents unity – so she is a Midwestern Spirit with an awareness of being a part of all environments and all peoples around the world.

Michael Wilson - About the Artist: I’m a representational oil painter inspired by classical drawing and painting. I like layered narratives and working within themes. I’m primarily a figure painter because my mission with art is to create, illuminate and translate the collective human spirit. Instagram @MichaelWilsonArtStudio

About the Artwork: The High Trestle Trail bridge in Madrid, IA is a repurposed railroad bridge turned bike trail/piece of art. The blue lights and unique shapes and composition looked amazing on this cold winter evening. As the sun sets deep below the horizon the remaining light takes on a bluish hue, this is called “blue hour” and was the perfect time to photograph the bridge on this cloudy day.

Justin West - About the Artist: Born and raised in Iowa, Traveler and Photographer. I photograph what inspires or emotionally touches me.The power of photography isn't just the aesthetic experience of what one sees; it's the emotional experience that the image conjures in a unique manner for every individual. Instagram @happyhogtor