In the Press

Delaware Division of the Arts Announces 2020 Individual Artist Fellowship Awardees

Nineteen Delaware artists and two Honorable Mentions to receive recognition

Wilmington, Del. (January 14, 2020) – Nineteen Delaware artists are being recognized by the Division for the high quality of their artwork. Work samples from 139 Delaware choreographers, composers, musicians, writers, folk and visual artists were reviewed by out-of-state arts professionals, considering demonstrated creativity and skill in their art form. The 20 selected fellows reside throughout Delaware including Dover, Lewes, Milford, Milton, Newark, New Castle, Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington.

Awards are given in three categories – $10,000 for the Masters Award, $6,000 for the Established Professional Award, and $3,000 for the Emerging Professional Award – and Fellows are required to offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year, providing an opportunity for the public to experience their work.

“Individual Artist Fellowship grants provide the recognition and exposure that artists need to successfully promote their work,” said Paul Weagraff, director of Delaware Division of the Arts. “The financial award allows them to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs to advance their careers.”

The work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, Award Winners XX at the Biggs Museum from June 5 to July 23, 2020 with an award ceremony and reception on Wednesday, June 10 at 5 p.m. Selections from Award Winners will travel to CAMP Rehoboth for the entire month of August and then Cab Calloway School of the Arts from September 4 to October 25. Opening receptions will be held June 5, August 1, and October 2 and are free and open to the public (Dates are subject to change).

The Masters Fellowship is open to differing artistic disciplines each year. In Fiscal Year 2020, Masters Fellowship applications were accepted in Visual and Folk Arts from artists who had previously received an Established Professional Fellowship. In addition to exemplifying high artistic quality, Masters Fellowship applicants must demonstrate their involvement and commitment to the arts in Delaware and beyond. Listed below are the Delaware Division of the Arts 2020 Individual Artist Fellows and two Honorable Mentions.

Mark Unruh has been awarded this year’s Master’s Fellowship in Folk Arts: Music. Unruh, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and instructor, teaches at The Music School of Delaware, Accent Music Store, Wilmington and Pro Musica Studios in Kennett Square, Pa. He covers a variety of musical styles including bluegrass, classical, jazz, blues, rock and ragtime and averages around 2,000 lessons annually. In addition to his teaching, Unruh is an established performer who has shared the stage with legends such as David Bromberg, Jay Unger and Molly Mason, Tammy Wynette, Bob and Ted Lundy, Jr., Wayne Henderson, David Grier, and Muriel Anderson, to name a few. Unruh’s passion for folk music leaves him “thankful to be able to give of (himself), serve the song, and bond with students, players and listeners.”

2020 Individual Artist Fellows

Masters Award ($10,000)

NameCommunityArtistic Discipline
Mark UnruhWilmingtonFolk Art: Music

Established Professional Award ($6,000)

NameCommunityArtistic Discipline
Taylor Reid AdamsWilmingtonLiterature: Fiction
Anne ColwellMiltonLiterature: Creative Nonfiction
Merideth Hite EstevezWilmingtonMusic: Solo Recital
Shelley KoonDoverVisual Arts: Photography
Ralph Gresham LamWilmingtonFolk Art: Music
Aaron PaskinsDoverVisual Arts: Sculpture
Nicholas SerratoreLewesVisual Arts: Works on Paper
Constance M. SimonWilmingtonVisual Arts: Painting
Caroline N. SimpsonWilmingtonLiterature: Poetry
Robert Bruce WestonMiltonVisual Arts: Crafts
Jonathan W. WhitneyWilmingtonJazz: Composition
Michele XiquesMilfordDance: Choreography

Emerging Artist Award ($3,000)

NameCommunityArtistic Discipline
Sarah BarnettRehoboth BeachLiterature: Creative Nonfiction
Kim DeCiccoLewesLiterature: Fiction
Kari Ann EbertDoverLiterature: Poetry
Michael FleishmanMilfordVisual Arts: Works on Paper
Chloe McEldowneyWilmingtonVisual Arts: Painting
Guy MillerNew CastleVisual Arts: Sculpture

Honorable Mention

NameCommunityArtistic Discipline
Crystal HeidelMiltonLiterature: Fiction
Colleen ZufeltWilmingtonVisual Arts: Sculpture

To contact an individual artist, please email or call: Roxanne Stanulis, Program Officer, Artist Programs and Services, or 302-577-8283.

About the Delaware Division of the Arts
The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the State of Delaware. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. Funding for Division programs is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit or call 302-577-8278. Image: 2019 Award Winners exhibition at the Biggs Museum. Paintings by Geraldo Gonzalez, 2019 Established Professional, Folks Arts: painting

Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing

Chapbook Review, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” By Caroline Simpson. Panoplyzine. Submitted by Ryn Holmes, June 21, 2019.

For a novel and humorous take on that old, old story, male and female, one must jump in and sail away to the Galapagos Islands. It is there that Caroline Simpson cleverly draws upon the courting behavior of its native life to provide us with an analogy of both touching and ridiculous human romance in seven chapters of narrative poetry form.

As she compares and contrasts our behavior with such wild life as that of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, giant tortoises, etc., the writer also links them by offering options; if the courtship style of one creature doesn’t suit your needs, jump backwards or forwards to a different poem and try out something else. Intriguingly, the seventh and final “chapter” relates the seductive behavior between an Ecuadorian sailor and a single American woman aboard a cruise ship bound for the Galapagos Islands. They try out many actions, such as various facial movements, touch, language, etc., to draw in each other with success.

She rounds out the chapbook with poems that continue the dance between men and women while still utilizing animal life in the opposite of anthropomorphizing, In “The Scent of a Man,” she effectively relates her interactions in various scent, becomes a snail in “A Snail’s Life,” youthful in “The Fawn,” and so on, wrapping it all up in the graceful, “Love Story.” Ms. Simpson’s language is provocative, approachable and well-suited to the topic and the “primitive” life of the Islands.

Review of Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems on Goodreads. Submitted by Nina Bennett, March 5, 2019.

Caroline Simpson, a two-time Pushcart nominee, is an adjunct assistant professor in Delaware State University’s Department of English and Foreign Languages. I was fortunate to meet her and purchase her chapbook at a reading. Some readers may be familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance, from the October 2018 issue of Rattle.

Caroline Simpson took a trip to the Galapagos Islands, which proved to be the inspiration for her wonderful book, Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems. In an interview on Delaware Public Media, Simpson shares: “ our particular tour guide was very keen on teaching us about the mating rituals of these animals. So, as we’re learning about the sex lives and romance and patterns of commitment and gender roles of all these creatures, I couldn’t help but relate it to some of the partnership patterns I’ve seen in humans.” 

She then set up her writing in a unique format, that of the choose your own adventure series many of us bought for our children. This lengthy poem, divided into seven chapters filling the first sixteen pages of her chapbook, while not x-rated, is certainly not for children. Simpson compares and contrasts the animal mating rituals with those of humans. She offers her reader an opportunity to alter an unappealing behavior by “return to Chapter One,” or “skip to Chapter Six.” There is a great deal of humor in these well-crafted poems.

From Chapter Six:
If you cannot handle
the emotional complexity
of an open relationship,
refer to Chapter Four.

If only relationships were that easy! 

Radio interview: “DSU adjunct professor writes book of poetry” By Kelli Steele, Delaware Public Media, 91.1 Dover. Aired on Dec. 31, 2018.

Delaware State University adjunct professor Caroline Simpson has written a book of poetry relating the mating habits of exotic animals with those of humans.

Caroline Simpson’s new book is called Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems.

She describes how she came up with the idea for the book.

“In December 2016 my mom and I took a trip to the Galapagos Islands. My mom is a research biologist and this was one of her bucket list trips. What’s unique about the Galapagos Islands is that the animals have evolved into very unique species on each Island,” said Simpson.

Simpson says while she was there with her mom, their tour guide was keen on teaching them about the mating rituals of all the animals.

”And so while we were there, our particular tour guide was very keen on teaching us about the mating rituals of these animals. So, as we’re learning about the sex lives and romance and patterns of commitment and gender roles of all these creatures, I couldn’t help but relate it to some of the partnership patterns I’ve seen in humans,” Simpson said.

Simpson went on to say that the poems contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor.

Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems can be purchased on Amazon.comat the full retail price or for a discounted price from the author – Caroline Simpson – at

University adjunct publishes book of poetry, Delaware State University, Dec. 13, 2018.

Caroline Simpson, an adjunct assistant professor in the University’s Department of English and Foreign Languages, has authored a book of poetry that relates the mating habits of exotic animals with that of humans.

Ms. Simpson, who arrived at the University for the fall semester 2018 to teach African American Literature and English as a Second Language, says her book Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems was inspired by a trip she took to the Galapagos Islands, which is part of and off the coast of Ecuador in South America.

“(The Galapagos Islands) is known for animals that evolve into unique breeds of species,” Ms. Simpson said. “The poems are about the mating rituals of animals there and likening them to the mating patterns of humans.”

She said the poems contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. “But the poems have a lot to say about how humans partner up,” the author said.

A native of Rochester, N.Y. and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Simpson lived and taught at Edmonds Community College in Seattle, Wash., for five years before moving to Delaware last summer. She currently resides with her daughter in Middletown, Del.

Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems can be purchased on

A review of the long form poem, “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance” by PMF Johnson, “Poetry Commentary: Commentary on poetry in current U.S. magazines,” June 21, 2018.  

“Maybe the most original and creative poem in the [Rattle #60] issue is by Caroline N. Simpson. “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance.” “You are a single woman, about to embark upon your most challenging and dangerous mission.” The header explains what ‘you’ are to do — discover a useful mating ritual. Then it’s on to Chapter One: “You are a blue-footed booby. / A male approaches you… He offers you twigs and grasses.” The tone is so fun, the parallels with human rituals so apt. There are several chapters in this long poem, each describing the rituals of a different creature, with many laughs, but often rueful ones. There is such a loneliness underneath — they say true humor arises from the truth, and that is true here. Ms. Simpson is very much an ecologist of the heart. As the Chapters unfold, the reader is allowed at points to choose to move to a different section, depending on whether this current ritual appeals or not. What a genius structure. And the ending Chapter, Seven, has a most satisfactory conclusion. A poem worth hunting down this issue for.”