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Kalley Fosso discusses her art portfolio during an interview Friday at Willmar Senior High School. The 18-year-old senior will participate in the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute at the University of South Dakota in June. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Doing what she loves: Willmar student is selected to attend exclusive summer art program

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 When she was little, a sheet of paper and some colored pencils would keep Kalley Fosso happy for quite a while.

 As her talent has grown over the years, so has her interest in art. When she was a sophomore, the Willmar Senior High senior “decided to go for it” and make art her career.


 Kalley, 18, will take another step on that path when she participates in the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute at the University of South Dakota in June.


 Just 20 high school students are chosen to attend the exclusive art institute each year. Students spend nearly two weeks working with contemporary Native American fine artists and learning about Native American culture.


 Kalley said last week that she applied for the institute in the winter and found out about a month ago that she had been chosen.


 To apply, she submitted a portfolio with photos of 15 of her works and to write an essay about why she was interested in attending.


 Native American students are given preference in the selection process, and she didn’t know what to expect when she submitted her application.


 “I was really excited to find out I made it,” she said.


 The institute will run from June 8 to June 20.


 Participants will live in university dorms, and their room and board and all meals will be provided.


 Their days will be filled with art classes and presentations about Native American culture and history. On the weekend, they will go on a field trip to an art museum in Omaha, Nebraska.


 At the end of the institute, participants will show their work.


 “I’m excited, because I think Native American culture is cool,” Kalley said. She’s hoping the institute will give her a chance to work more with charcoal, a medium she hasn’t used that often.


 “I really like painting, that’s my forte,” Kalley said. She plans to attend Bethel University to major in art. She said she liked the major program offered by Bethel, because its studio art major offers a variety of classes and doesn’t require students to focus on one medium.


 To show some of her recent work, Kalley pulled out a series of pop-art drawings and spread them on a table in an art department classroom. Each was designed to portray a different emotion, like stress, confidence, joy or heartbreak. Many were done in acrylic paint. She also branched out into markers, spray paint, ink and other media.


 “I really enjoy working with the different materials this year,” she said. Her teachers have been very encouraging, she added. They give students a lot of leeway in their art and are ready to help with advice on technique.


 School counselor Sharon Tollefson suggested to Kalley and her parents that she apply for the institute. “I knew she was very talented, extremely talented,” Tollefson said.


 Penny Fosso, Kalley’s mother, said the family has always tried to support her interest in art. “She’s been drawing since she was little,” she said in a phone interview. “That’s what we hauled with for her. It wasn’t dolls; it was colored pencils, colors and paper.”


 Kalley’s interest in art comes at least partly from her mother, who has a mechanical drafting degree and enjoyed drawing and carving when she was young. Recently, mother and daughter have joined a wood carving club.


 Penny Fosso said she and Kalley’s dad Lonnie are excited that she has the opportunity to attend the institute. “I’m anxious to see her try different things,” she said. 

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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