Meet n’ Greet: Summer Intern Artists

The Intern Artist Program at Franconia is very special program, one that provides incredible opportunities to career-bound emerging artists who exhibit a rare cocktail of determination, passion, and ambition at an early stage in their practices. The summer session is a particularly exciting session, as the majority of our Intern Artists are in the middle of completing their undergraduate degrees. A residency internship at Franconia offers these young artists an intense period of making art outside of an academic environment and for many, their first glimpse into life as a professional artist. Past Intern Artists have told us that Franconia gave them the confidence to pursue a career as an artist. Their time here tends to spark exciting developments in their work and propels them in to their final years at school with far greater commitment to making sculpture and taking chances. 


Dylan Redford decorating one of Franconia’s picnic tables with his drawings.

The Intern Artist Program is the brainchild of John Hock, co-founder and Artistic Director/CEO, based on pivotal experiences he had as a young artist. The program began with the park’s founding in 1996 and has grown to support more than 200 emerging artists in the past 18 years. The program received recognition for Program Excellence from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts for the creation of the Intern Artist Program. This year we awarded 18 competitive internships to Intern Artist applicants from all over the world. Intern Artist are in residence at Franconia for 2 to 3 months over the course of the year, helping maintain the park, staffing events, assisting with guided tours, and teaching workshops, as well as completing a three-dimensional artwork for exhibition in the 30-acre sculpture park. While in residence at Franconia, Intern Artists receive room and board, access to equipment and tools, studio space, mentoring, technical assistance, and all the advantages of collaboration in a focused artist community. 


Cassi Rebman working on the floor of her life-sized diorama.

Our summer Intern Artists arrived on June 15th and have had a month to settle in to life at the park. I had the pleasure of sitting down with them this week to talk about where they’re coming from, what they’re making, and what’s on the menu next time they cook dinner.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

Carson Tarnasky: I grew up on acerage outside a small town in Alberta. I am going to school at the University of Alberta and studying Industrial Design.

Cassi Rebman: I grew up in Belle Plaine, MN. I went to school at Normandale Community College and am currently enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Dylan Redford: I was born in Denver, Colorado on October 16, 1991. When I was 4 my family moved to Marin County, CA. I spent the remainder of my childhood there. It was a good childhood. School was hard. When I was 18, I moved to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. I have one year left at Middlebury College.

Nelson Tsui: Hong Kong/England. Pomona College, CA.


Carson Tarnasky making cutting steel for his sculpture.

Why did you start making sculpture?

CT: I started making sculpture in high school, but always liked making things as a kid.

CR: I became interested in making things that interrupt space and create “experiential” space.

DR: Reading/writing is hard for me. Being a history major for two years was a nightmare. I started making sculpture because I could process information better through making things then writing things. I like learning about new materials and the cognitive process that comes along with it.

NT: I like working with my hands and wanted to made 3-D work.

What are you making at Franconia this summer?

CT: I am making a steel, wood, and concrete sculpture inspired by my grandfather’s life and work.

CR: I’m reconstructing a memory.

DR: Mini zoetropes powered by my hip thrusts.

NT: Memories.


Nelson Tsui assisting Fellowship Artist Kambui Olujimi.

What were you doing before you got here? What’s next?

CT: Before I got here I was working as a studio assistant for my professor Royden Mills in Stony Plain, Alberta. When I get back, I will be finishing my degree and then hopefully starting to build my studio career.

CR: I was a T.A. for Metro North Adult Basic Education, an artist assistant at Premises in NE Minneapolis, and a server at Bearpath Country Club. After this I will finish my last year at MCAD and travel.

DR: I’m still in college. I have one year left. Before I got here I was making a music video for my friend’s band. I have no idea what’s going to happen when I graduate. Maybe I’ll move back to my parents house and think about making work all day.

NT: Attending college. Continuing college.


Dylan working on his sculpture.

What’s your nickname? Any good stories behind it?

CT: I don’t have a nickname.

CR: C-Dawg

DR: My dad calls me Big D. I don’t know why he calls me that but I like it.

NT: Nelly or Nels


Carson talking with park visitors about his sculpture.

When it comes to making sculpture, do you have a motto?

CT: I have the same motto for making sculpture as I do for everything in life. “Struggle and Emerge”, which is adopted from Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, the high school I attended.

CR: Mottos I tell myself:

  1. “Ignore your limitations, and then decide how to make the thing”
  2. “Go big or go home”
  3. “Failure is not an option”.

DR: Respond to the material and be willing to make mistakes. Making stuff isn’t a linear deal. There’s more then one way to skin a cat. Two biscuits and a donkey don’t make fun for breakfast.

NT: That’s good enough.


Nelson posing with the sculpture he built with his Kids Make Sculpture student. 

What will you wear to the next Franconia dance party? What song will you play?

CT: I will wear my overalls to the next dance party, because I’ll be working it all night on the dance floor. I would play the song Fitzpleasure by Alt-J.

CR: I will wear whatever doesn’t have messes from my work on it. I’m thinking I will play some disco.

DR: I will wear a blond wig, lil crop top, party skirt, and flats. Body Party will be the song for the evening.

NT: A large t-shirt and short shorts. Jaguar by Whatsonot.



Cassi’s drawing of an object that will be included in her sculpture.

What’s on the menu next time you cook dinner?

CT: Potatoes.

CR: I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.

DR: PB and J.

NT: The tuna Risa’s mom sent us from Hawaii.

Curious about what these talented, young artists are up to? Come out to Franconia and find them!

Franconia’s Intern Artist Program is made possible through generous lead support provided by the Woodbury Foundation, with additional support provided by the Sage Cleveland Foundation and RBC Wealth Management, and contributions from many individual supporters.


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