Photographer Rachel Deutmeyer found that you can’t go home again—but that inaccessibility became a route to this powerful visual meditation on loss, change, and memory.

Deutmeyer, an assistant professor of photography at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, had originally set out to explore the small town in Dubuque County where she was raised, but she found she was unable to access the center of her memories: her childhood home. This absence rendered her familiar surroundings foreign, and the house became, in her project, a symbol of what we lose in the passage from youth to adulthood.

The 15 works on view momentarily suspend a landscape in constant change. Spring buds, shadows, sunlight, butterflies, and multiple exposures of the exteriors of houses photographed across the Midwest become reflections of not only the inexorable passage of time but the wavering quality of memory itself. “I edited and sequenced the images to construct a narrative that references a bygone time in my own life,” she wrote, “but they also address collective ideas of home, family, and loss,” a sentiment that turns this highly personal project into a universal one.

Deutmeyer’s work was first exhibited at DuMA in the 2019 Biennial, making Everything Fades both a homecoming and an evolution. “Change is often slow and unnoticed until it suddenly feels permanent and inevitable,” she reflected. “I found beauty in things that were changing, as we are all changing.”

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Image credit: Rachel Deutmeyer, Trusting Aspiration, Spring 2023, 2023, Inkjet print on paper, 20×24 in., courtesy of the artist.

DuMA Biennial 2023

Welcome to the tenth edition of the DuMA Biennial, an exhibition founded in 2003 as a competitive, open-call opportunity for established and emerging artists in the heart of the Midwest.

The ethos of the Biennial is to reflect a moment in time, celebrate regional talent, and continue to build an artistic community. The selected works this year were chosen by juror Pamela Caserta Hugdahl (Executive Director of the Rochester Art Center) from a wide field of over 500 submissions. Hugdahl has assembled a survey that reflects the prominent styles, themes, and range of media she found. The exhibition features contemporary painting, sculpture, furniture, photography and more.

Through the works on view, digital content, and programs, the DuMA Biennial explores how the enormous changes in our social, cultural, and political environment emerge in the art created today by the artists among us.

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Image credit: Priscilla Steele, Magnum Amaryllis, 2022, mixed media on paper, 52.5×27.5 in., courtesy of the artist.

High school 2023

Featuring student work from Dubuque Senior High school, Hempstead High school, Wahlert Catholic High school, and alternative learning center program.

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K-8 2023

A harbinger of spring, the annual K-8 exhibition features artwork by city elementary and middle school students, chosen by their teachers.

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Tibi Chelcea

Iowa-based artist Tibi Chelcea combines his background in computer engineering with his artistic practice and Romanian heritage to create technologically-inspired, historically-grounded drawings, paintings, and digital and textiles works.

Chelcea’s drawings and paintings are inspired by electronic circuit board designs and explore the graphic potential of electronic symbols. His printed circuit boards pioneer new techniques for using electronic design software to create art. These works are manufactured using the same process as actual circuit boards but are not functional.

Chelcea’s textile works are part of an ongoing exploration of the connections between textile manufacturing and the electronics industry. His large textiles are inspired by Jacquard fabric. Historically, Jacquard looms influenced the development of computing. The punched cards that controlled the looms were used for decades in early electronic computers. His smaller weavings combine textile with circuit boards and introduce hand embroidery. The cross-stitching patterns he uses are based on electronic symbols and recall the traditional Romanian patterns that he saw in his grandparents’ home during his childhood in Romania.

Tibi Chelcea moved to the United States in 1997 and received his Ph.D. in computer science at Columbia University. He worked at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before settling to Iowa. He is currently a software engineer in the agricultural industry and lives with his wife and two children in Ames.

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Image credit: Tibi Chelcea, PCB Drawing #32, 2017, circuit board, 4 x 4 inches, Courtesy of the artist

Bill Farrell

This survey exhibition organized by the Dubuque Museum of Art and co-curated by Delores Fortuna and Tim Farrell highlights pioneering ceramic artist Bill Farrell’s significant contributions to the field of ceramics and his dedication to life-long creating and teaching.

Farrell received many honors and awards during his lifetime. In 1962, as an emerging artist, he was juried into the 22nd Syracuse Ceramic National at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York. He was a member of the National Council on Education in Ceramic Arts (NCECA) since its inception in 1966. He received a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists’ Fellowship award in 1981 for his Popeye series of sculptures.

After moving from Chicago to Galena, Illinois later in his career, Farrell maintained an active studio practice and could also be found at almost every car show in the region either as spectator or exhibitor. He was an influential presence in the area arts community. He helped found the popular Twenty Dirty Hands pottery tour. He was included in the first Voices from the Warehouse District exhibition in 2005 and co-curated the exhibition Innovations in Clay in 2015 at the Dubuque Museum of Art. Bill Farrell passed away on July 3, 2021. He lives on in the significant body of work he created and in his enduring legacy of non-traditional approaches to clay.

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Jill Wells

As 4,000+ black butterflies glide from floor to ceiling, along every wall of the DuMA lobby, cascading from above and wheeling in reverence, the narrative begins in the installation BLACK THREAD by Des Moines artist Jill Wells. BLACK THREAD presents the pathways and journey of The Great Migration, one of the largest movements of people in United States history. In honoring African American History, BLACK THREAD acknowledges the sewing of the fabric of America done by countless African Americans throughout U.S. history. Additionally, BLACK THREAD raises questions about freedom, transformation, labor, and economy, while celebrating the virtue of fortitude.

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Photo credit: Jill Wells


For many reasons, 2020 was the perfect time for Mary Bergs of Wisconsin and Lisa Hochstein of California to initiate a long-distance, mail-based collaborative project. Having previously worked together on a site-specific installation while in residency in Minnesota at The Grand Marais Artist Colony, they viewed this challenging year as an opportunity to collaborate again, using a shared interest in mixed media collage as a starting point. Due to their geographic distance, reliance on the U.S. Postal Service was essential to exchanging work, exploring ideas, posing questions, and sharing humor and insights. Aside from occasional phone conversations, this dialogue took place almost exclusively through visual means.

Each month, Bergs and Hochstein sent one another an incomplete work or a selection of materials from their studios. The recipient responded by making modifications or creating a new piece, then sending the work back to the originator. While agreeing to these very basic parameters, both artists felt it important to maintain an open-ended quality to the exchange. This process allowed a visual conversation to emerge, revealing differing as well as common perspectives and points of reference.

The exhibition mixes a large collaborative work with smaller individual works from each artist. Central to their creative process is the gathering and arranging of distinct elements, and the discovery of relationships between seemingly disparate materials and objects. Their large work, Correspondences, was created using materials like note and scrap papers, different types of tape, and pieces of cardboard and string. As the final step in the process, the artists determined the arrangement of the works and installed the exhibition together in the Museum’s gallery – mirroring the collaboration at the heart of the project.

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Image credit: Mary Bergs and Lisa Hochstein, Correspondences (detail), 2022, mixed media, courtesy of the artists


The Dubuque Camera Club explores the power of the human figure through 21 images in the ninth annual exhibition of member photography at DuMA.

Inspired by themes of personal relationships and collaboration, this collection of recent images is a scrapbook of impactful moments and quiet connections captured by club members. The ways that the human figure is portrayed in the exhibition are as varied as the subjects themselves— from images of people looking directly at the camera to those with their faces hidden. There are solitary figures in shadow and brightly lit groups. There are people posing and others completely distracted by their surroundings. Whether we recognize the people in these images or not, each photograph captures our attention and sparks our curiosity to know their story.

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Image credit: Ronald W. Tigges, New Urban Cowboy