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MAC welcomes new gallery director
Jill Kambs of Beloit started as the new Monroe Arts Center gallery director on March 1. She was previously the assistant curator at the Erie Art Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania, among other positions. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - With less than two months on the job, Monroe Arts Center Gallery Director Jill Kambs said she's looking forward to continuing the programs and development the group already boasts.

Kambs officially started in the post March 1. She was introduced at a reception during an exhibit April 13.

"I look forward to building on their already strong gallery and programs," Kambs said. "Gallery work and teaching has been a constant throughout my career."

With a background in arts administration and art education, Kambs is looking forward to using both of those platforms to support regional artists. She plans to help people grow and showcase their finest work from the region, and she hopes to help viewers experience new materials through art showcased in the gallery.

For now, Kambs is still learning how things at MAC work and is enjoying the close-knit staff. Monroe, she said, has already charmed her and she's thrilled to be in a community where art is held to high importance.

"This area has reinvigorated my art practice," she said.

Kambs, who attended graduate school at the University of Iowa where she studied photography and book art, is also a visual artist, curator and educator.

After leaving Iowa, she found herself in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she spent three and a half years working at the Erie Art Museum in various positions.

"Erie was much bigger, but it had a community invested in the arts - similar to Monroe," she said.

Kambs looks forward to learning more about active regional artist groups and becoming immersed in local interests.

"It's really rewarding to me as a curator and as a teacher to see relationships between artists and education," Kambs said.

Erie, like Monroe, was growing fast when it came to its arts platforms and also put on an addition, she said. MAC updates began with a $3.75 million expansion completed in August 2016. In January, the Green County Board of Supervisors approved a $100,000 grant after the facility raised the same in matching funds. Board members hope to create a modern, usable space in the lower level of the building while also maintaining its history.

"I think it's really exciting to be a part of art organizations when they're at a point of that pivotal growth," Kambs said.

The new MAC gallery director previously worked at the Erie Art Museum as guest service coordinator, then collections manager and eventually as the assistant curator. She also served as the senior editor for the office of visual materials and printing research assistant at the University of Iowa.

Kambs holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art from Luther College and a certificate in K-12 art education. Her advanced degrees include a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in photography and drawing, as well as a second MFA in letterpress printing and digital book design, all from the University of Iowa.

Some of her photographic work has been published in The Iowa Review and Water Stone Review. Kambs' artist bookwork can be seen in a growing number of special collections, including the University of Florida libraries, Hennepin County Libraries and the Samford University Department of Special Collections in Birmingham, Alabama.

Kambs is originally from the Midwest and grew up in Indiana, relocating to Beloit in 2017. She now resides in Beloit with her husband and on occasion teaches at Beloit College as an adjunct assistant professor of art.

"We are extremely pleased to have Jill Kambs join the staff of the Monroe Arts Center," wrote MAC Director Richard Daniels in a press release. "She is so well-credentialed and experienced. We look forward to enjoying her work."

The next upcoming exhibit at MAC will open June 22 with Daniel Edler, who will showcase his abstract painting and glass art retrospective exhibit.

A full list of exhibits and events at the Monroe Arts Center can be found at