September’s First Friday was filled with new experiences and new friendships. I challenged myself this month by doing as many different and exciting things as I could. Having my artwork present in two separate group art shows, while simultaneously displaying quality, was a big part of that challenge.
My First Friday morning began with appearing on KELOLAND News to chat about the 5th Annual Tallgrass Recovery Art Show at Exposure Gallery, along with artists Betsy Ashworth and Joan Zephier. Personally, this wasn’t a first time being interviewed about my artwork, but it was a first having it air on television. As nerve-wracking as it was to piece together what I’d say to KELO, it was all worth it. Being able to have the chance to speak about a powerfully impacting exhibition is well worth any amount of nerves. I’m so thankful for Joan and everyone involved with the show.
The most surprising thing was the intense amount of people that showed up just for this healing event. I’m, at times, the type of person that would rather stay home and resist any chance to interact with people. Then there are special times that I’m able to move into a healthier mood that pushes me to meet folks and reach out. The reception was an incredibly eventful first.
A fun, interactive aspect to the exhibit is the People’s Choice Award. Attendees were asked to cast their vote before they left. With the pieces being displayed the entire month of September, I hope you have a chance to stop by to look around.
I enjoy seeing written, story-like pieces beside a visual artwork. It’s even more powerful when the viewer gets a written accompaniment to help lead their thinking, and walk them down a path of interpretation. I like to look for little body cues as viewers take in my work, as well. When someone is reading what I’ve placed before them, and they realize how it fits with everything else they’re seeing, that’s one of my favorite moments. It’s almost like an electric connection is sparked inside their eyes. Witnessing people light up with a specific passion for any artwork is a treat.
At 7:00 p.m. I had to hop, skip, and jump over to Vishnu Bunny Tattoo for the other group show I took part in this month. This show served as an introduction to local artists that the community may not have known about otherwise.
Both Exposure and Third Eye Gallery at Vishnu are constantly brainstorming new topics and themes for artists to submit and present on. Keep your eyes peeled for calls for art. A great resource is our very own Call For Art page on JAM’s website!
I’m not a fan of bland artist statements. I like to give information in a more engaging and fun way. The “theme” of my work displayed at Vishnu is similar to a timeline with missing chunks. So, I decided to make my statement more of a funky story to follow along with. I noticed that during the night, I had to point this fact out to folks. Most of whom I chatted with had never heard of an artist statement that didn’t just state the obvious facts.
For those of you reading who are wondering how to get your work into galleries, just keep going. Connect. Keep pushing. Keep meeting people. Keep working on your art. Keep taking in constructive criticism. Keep positive. What more is there to say? www.patreon.com/HannahWendt
One of my favorite aspects about blogging for JAM is having the chance to go out and meet wonderful people. Sometimes they’re mysterious enchantresses or eccentric wizards. Other times, they seem like wildly excited kings and queens. This go around, I was invited into the lair of local Sioux Falls artist, Angie Gillespie. She showed me the wondrous way to create a captivating painting without the use of any paint. I thought she must have used alchemy to bring them to life in such a beautiful and mind-turning way. Having seen her process first hand, I can firmly say that her persistence with experimentation shines like gold through all of her pieces.
Are you from Sioux Falls, South Dakota? How long have you lived here?
Lived in Sioux Falls my whole life except for a short couple years in Minneapolis.
How long have you been working with your art?
I’ve painted my whole life, but started painting with wax two years ago. I actually read up and visually studied it for about six years before actually painting with wax. The timing just wasn’t right.
Where do you create?
My studio is in my basement, in a home my parents built and then sold. It was lived in by two different families, until we bought it a few years back. I work every day in the same room that I once created in as a child. It even has the same wall pencil sharpener.
What do you work with? What exactly is that medium like?
I create my encaustic medium by mixing beeswax with damar crystals which acts as a hardener. (Damar crystals are a resin.) Many of my colors are custom created mixtures using dry pigments to which I add to the clear medium, and each layer of wax must be fused together with the previous layer by heat. I work with blow torches, irons and a heat gun. My palette is a griddle full of tins and soup cans. Wax has characteristics that can’t be changed. Almost as soon as my brush touches the panel, the wax on it has cooled. For this reason, wax doesn’t lay down and blend like acrylics or oils; that comes with using heat to push the colors around and melt. When I’m working on a piece, it’s not just about what’s on the surface, it’s also the colors that were intentionally painted before, only to reemerge when scraped away to reveal new patterns that are hidden beneath.
Do you do commissions?
Of course! I love commissioned projects and working with clients who have a specific size and color palette in mind. It’s always a good feeling to make something that someone is so excited to get and hang in their home. It’s the ultimate compliment that they chose my work for something they see every day. I always feel very appreciative and grateful.
What’s your printing business?
Out of a challenge came a solution. I created APLIS Fine Art Printing as I wanted to create prints of my work that were the same size as my originals. At APLIS Fine Art Printing, I work with artists of every medium who want big beautiful prints the same size as or bigger than their originals without losing any clarity when enlarged. Through my digital capture technique, I create a base file that requires no upsampling, no interpolation of pixels. For example, I can digitally capture a 6×6 and print it out 24×24 and it remains clear without any fuzzy edges. My website lists my paper selection, sizes and prices.
What is one of, or a combination of, most challenging pieces/projects that you’ve worked on?
Pieces that have a lot of carved lines can be tricky. If you only want to melt the very top layer of wax, you have to wait longer between fusing, or else the previous layers will get too hot and shift the piece. That takes a lot of patience and time. An overall challenge I find is to remind myself to move forward and not try to duplicate something I painted. It will drive you nuts! The only way I could possibly duplicate something is to really document every step I took; from the colors I created to what I laid down and in what order. I had to do this for a commission piece where there were two paintings that almost mirrored each other. I took pictures of each step and documented everything. I even had a little old school tape recorder… which would have been cool if I had used it, but I used my phone.
Where can people contact you? What’s the contact line for your printing business?
People can reach me by calling, texting, emailing, pigeon carrier, sky writing…. All my contact info is on my two websites. AngieGillespie.com has images of my work and prints you can order! APLISfineartprinting.com has information on digital capturing services, printing and prices. I always welcome questions about the process, and what APLIS Fine Art Printing can do for them. I love to help artists create multiple streams of income for themselves by selling prints of their work!
Can you use three words to describe your art and yourself?
Perseverance. Fearless. Optimistic.
It’s okay to make your own rules. I try to remember that when it comes to what I want to accomplish as an artist. I’m a huge believer in writing down goals. I have notebooks full ideas and plans, then I break it down and work on what I can accomplish now, months from now and years down the road. Every idea starts somewhere, some with giant leaps, others with baby steps. After taking a few years off and silencing my creative spirit, I found myself standing at the sidelines waiting to jump in; full of ideas and stuffed with inspiration, knowing one day, I’d paint with wax. I didn’t know what I’d create… I just had to let it all out, and remember it was okay to make my own rules.
Meeting Angela was a wonderful experience! I not only enjoyed insight into her work, but made a new friend. I was surprised to discover several pieces of artwork around Sioux Falls, that have left a significant mark on me, are hers. I was delighted to have the chance to chat more in-depth about those subjects with the artist herself.
Before any questions were asked, Angela jumped right into talking about her work.
In 2012, I had a solo exhibition. My work was right outside that really long gallery–that A Gallery–I got to have that gallery during the “Beauty and The Beast show.” I did kind of a reboot of the piece that was on the wall. It was all these little bags of clear perfect water, and they were kind of jewel-like. It was suppose to be like a power plant, that could conduct energy from one end of the wall to the other. The wall was close to 30 feet long. So, I sent all of the energy down to one end and then it gathered with the copper wires connecting all of those. It gathered in a mirror, and I had crocheted some copper wire and put a bunch of stuff around that mirror so that the energy would gather around these little wires and come into that. We set up the lights so that the round mirror would reflect the spot of light down onto the floor. It was hung at a height where most people could see themselves in it, but they could also see other parts of the show around them.
I really liked that idea, but when the opportunity for the “Women at Work” show came up, I’m like ‘you know, I think it should be an installation piece instead of, you know, just an object.’ And so, I put that one up. I put India ink into some of the water bags. So there are some that are clear and beautiful and the light doesn’t really refract, but it’s bent to shine spots on the wall from when the lights hit it. Some of them got a tint, and some of them didn’t. Some of them got a lot of ink so that they were just super black. All of the black is up here on the top of the installation, so some of the lighter stuff is down below, and there’s a spot over here that’s the bright clear water. It’s about water quality and us needing to save that resource and pipelines, and fracking and the fail rate.
You’re probably familiar with the feathers and branches in the Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center. So, that’s one of mine that’s in a collection now. As part of a collaboration with Post Pilgrim and the Sioux Falls Design Center, Jennifer White and I did a Final Friday with the chalkboards. As far as I know, the chalkboards are still up. That night there were people leaning up against the wall, and as soon as they walked away I would be over there with the chalk fixing it. I guess I’m just a little bit of a freak that way.
A few steps down the street from the Sioux Falls Design Center is the Shriver’s window. You don’t have to go inside the building to see it, it’s just the corner display window at 11th and Phillips. I’ve got that 18 foot raw canvas laying on the floor. I had that thing along with me from when I went on the camping trip that produced the “sold” pictures on the boards. It was a site in the South Jenny Lake in the shadow of the national park. I rolled the canvas out on my camp site, and I brought a little bit of tobacco. I had worked with tobacco before as a staining drying material, so that ended up being the brown color. I made some bison on the canvas. Then I needed charcoal, so I kind of fished some stuff out of my camp fire. Along with that installation, I had made these tripods out of branches. They were meant to hold the canvas up. When I went to install the thing, I had some engineering issues and it didn’t work. Now, they are kind of a backdrop, or forest to that installation. So you walk up to the window, and you look down to see the piece.
I did a Final Friday that was in conjunction with the PechaKucha. You get 20 images and you get 20 seconds per image. You are presenting whatever ideas, artwork, whatever it is that you do and that you’re passionate about. You share that, and then it goes up on a website. I haven’t had the guts to go listen to mine. I was so busy with Jennifer getting the “Love or Money” show together that I didn’t spend a lot of time preparing the PechaKucha. Anyway, it’s out there on the Net for everybody to see!
MAST (Madison Area Stands Together) is a local group that formed after the presidential election last year. There was a lot of concern about the travel bans, and the Visa issues. I work at Dakota State University, and we’ve got a lot of international students and faculty members, too, who are from all over the world, and they’re suddenly not able to move about and come and do their jobs. Everything was all kind of scary. So, we held a candle light vigil for them, just to let them know that we care and are concerned, too. This group developed out of that sense of helplessness. It recently came up that they need to have a logo. So, I don’t know if this [see below] is going to be their final design, but I proposed it and people seem to be fairly excited about it. It was important that there was this sturdy something. I wanted that awareness with the eyes and everything. Then also, the horns are not being used, but they could be, you know. It’s like this defensible possibility. And black and white is pretty powerful.
You just answered several of my questions there before I could even get to them. I like it–this should be a great time! Are you from Madison?
I’m from southwestern Minnesota. I got out of there as quickly as I possibly could. I went to college in central Minnesota, and then I went to the Twin Cities, and kind of bounced all over the place there. I was a little too distracted, so I went back to UMM–University of Minnesota, Morris–to finish college and I floundered around for another number of years, then I went to graduate school in Lincoln, Nebraska. After that I moved to Vancouver, Washington for 7 or 8 years, and then I moved to South Dakota.
So, was your degree centered around your artwork?
Yes, my masters degree is in sculpture. My undergraduate work was a duel emphasis in sculpture and printmaking. I tried to continue with printmaking in graduate school, but it didn’t work out very well. I had a studio that I loved, but it was in this dumpy old building that they were going to tear down. But it was a good quarter mile from the print studios, so that was kind of tough to get stuff back and forth, and I didn’t have any storage space in the print area. I mean, for graduate students, you just kind of carve out your space. You know, it’s all self directed, and I was busy enough with sculpture.
So then, how long have you been in South Dakota?
2009. So, it’s close to eight and a half years. I’ve been at Dakota State University for eight years, and I started out there with one 3-D Design class, but that wasn’t enough to pay my rent. So, I taught ESL for one semester.
Cool! You’ve been here for a while then. You have your artwork and teach, too?
Yes. I am employed full-time as a lecturer of art at Dakota State University in the digital and arts design department. During the summers, I haven’t done it for a couple of years, but this year I’m working as a part-time naturalist at Lake Herman State Park in Walkers Point Recreational Area. It’s kinda cool. I get the opportunity to come into contact with lots of different kinds of people. You know, especially with the DSU stuff with students, and faculty, and community. I always try to get my students to focus on something that’s outside of the classroom. It’s not just about earning a grade; I mean it’s important stuff, this visual communication. We’ve got so much screen time and everything. I make them do everything analog. They have to cut paper, they have to tear things and make collages.
I’m not too great with technology, so that style is perfect for how my mind works.
Well, I kind of call myself a dinosaur. I have sort of actively resisted–I mean I do the things I’m supposed to do for my job. I just think [technology] is another medium you can work in. Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign; these are digital tools you can use, but you still need to have those basic design skills to make something descent. The MAST design that I made is cut paper. I started with drawing it on paper, and then cutting it out with an exact-o knife. Then I printed out the text that I wanted to have on there. I’m perfectly happy with designing the font, or the typeface, I should say. You have to have a sense of composition. You have to be able to make things communicate what they need to communicate. The digital image manipulation is not the end all of design skills. Yeah, I’m a dinosaur.
You’ve already mentioned different inspirations that you have, do you have more that influence you?
I think it’s vitally important that people connect with nature, and that has been so lacking. It’s like there’s this spiritual deficit, I think; maybe even like a sink hole. We get enough racing around, driving around looking at screens, typing things, you know. If you’re taking notes on a computer, you’re not making the same neural connections you would if you are writing with a pencil on paper, or drawing. You know, you have to have this physical connection with the stuff that you’re learning. It’s not as effective to just type things, and look at it on a screen. So, yes, there’s all this technology that we deal with, it is wonderful. There are things that give lots more efficiency, but do we really keep moving at that pace? It’s making everybody sick. Everybody’s not getting enough movement, enough exercise. It drives me crazy, and I’m in the middle of it, too. When I make something, installation work especially, when I make work I’m really careful about the path of the energy, and the path of the people in that energy. I work my ass off when I have the opportunity to put something up. Humility also has a place here. I’m always unsure about it, but I work as good as I can so that I can offer it as a gift to the people that go and see it. When I say I’ve got this show up and I want you to go see it, that’s like me with a little gift with a bow on it offering this experience, because I want to give that. I think it will do something, it will help somebody, or make them feel a certain way, or give them a moment of peace, or something like that. So, that’s my gift. I realize a lot of times when I’m saying, ‘go see the show’, and doing all that self promotion, it’s not self promotion to make a career for me. It’s that there’s a gift that I want to offer that’s not going to get unwrapped if you don’t go and see it.
Yeah, I like that point…where it’s just two-dimensional, and people just looking at something. I think sometimes people need that three-dimensional installation that’s actually intruding into their space. It’s very important, I agree.
So, it’s more experiential than something you would just look at. I think installation, and sculpture–three-dimensional stuff–has an easier inlet. There’s a lot of paintings out there, but there’s probably not a lot of paintings that will really pull you in and offer you the kind of physical, or emotional, experience that an environment can. That said, I’m not trying to make judgments on things that I don’t respond to.
Now, how can people contact you? Do you have a website?
Facebook is just fine. My profile picture is me kissing a fake bison. I do have a blog site. I call it an images only blog site, but I haven’t done a really good job of keeping up with stuff on that. So, most of the stuff is older. That is a place where they could go and see things.
Can you describe your work, art and everything else, along with who you are in three words, or I should say, in three “sections”?
Art, nature, joy. Those are the things that I seek, and seek to share. I want to add something for people who are stopping themselves because “I can’t draw, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that.” It’s really, really, really important for your heart and soul to just make stuff, and experience stuff. You know, get away from your computer for a little while, and connect with people and connect with nature. Really, really, really important. That’ll make us happier, and it’ll make the world a better place…make it easier to live in.
For several months, I have wanted to visit the Museum of Visual Materials for their First Friday art receptions. My first impression was joy when I saw their sidewalk covered in fun chalk doodles. The smell of savory wine and cheese definitely peaked my senses. For someone who has never stepped into the building, I thought that the layout of the space helped me feel welcome to walk about and spark up conversation over the artwork by artist Isz.
Once I noticed my time was rapidly escaping me, I decided to move on to my next destination, the 8th and Railroad Center. Boy, was I surprised to find the chance to ride a mechanical bull!
After the sweet seduction of the delicious food trucks, I wandered into the Eastbank Gallery. They had some fun, new art displayed throughout the space. I can’t help, but take my time to gaze upon these diverse artist’s work.
On my way to the Washington Pavilion, I spotted one of the most artistic paintwork on a vehicle I have ever witnessed. I’d be telling myself lies if I said I wasn’t impressed. To be honest, I’m quite jealous and was considering doing the same to my own car.
As usual, the artists being held at the Pavilion always are enjoyably engaging and ever breathtaking!
A large crowd gathered in the Schultz Gallery for the opening reception of local artist, Anna Youngers.
Right outside Lucky’s stands Steve Bormes‘ sculpture, “School Spirit,” which is part of the Sculpture Walk. I try to take the long way around downtown just to see all of these wonderful sculptures as much as possible, even when driving to work.
There have only been a hand full of times that I’ve seen inside the Rehfeld’s Gallery. For me, each time seems to get richer as I explore the layout of artists.
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Rehfeld’s is Vishnu Bunny and their Third Eye Gallery. Each month they host different artists, along with a different theme. All I can say is, you’ll want to go check them out!
With the night slipping away, I found myself getting my nightly caffeine crave. What a better situation having the downtown Coffea right next door to Vishnu… Yay, that means more art!
I am someone who is incredibly receptive of my surroundings. That amazing doughnut photograph by Amy really influenced me to go stop by Half Baked Cupcakes for some sweets. To my delight, I was able to see if Sara Bainter had put up any new pieces in their space!
Don’t forget, right outside The Phillips Diner and Woodgrain is usually some outstanding live music! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw crowds of folks gathering around the Dakota Snow truck giving away FREE shaved ice courtesy of National Bank. Cool! (Ha, get it?)
Even though I haven’t always been aware of all that First Friday has to offer, Downtown Sioux Falls continues to grow on me with each venture I take. Plus, I was able to look up into our bright, blue sky and watch some hot air balloons drift around town. Until next time fellows.
Personally, I have moved on from Augie, but that doesn’t mean there are not things happening. In fact, quite the opposite! Did you know that Sioux Falls’ very own, Augustana University hosts several different gallery exhibits every year? I’m always trying to stick my head in the doors, just to peak at what they’re up to.
Currently, they are housing The Augustana Student Invitational, which runs June 1-September 1, 2017. Augustana is located right off of 33rd Avenue; whereas, the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery is a few blocks down on Grange Avenue. Before we get started, I want to add that there is some incredible work displayed in this show by all the participating students. By all means, go take a closer look at all of the interesting pieces! With that, let’s dive in!
DR. LINDSEY TWA
Does the sophomore and junior summer show normally happen every year?
Yes, this is traditional. We always do our Augustana Student Invitational every summer. That’s been true for a couple of decades now, I believe. So, every summer our rising juniors and seniors get the opportunity to get a professional exhibition under their belt as a part of the group show. These are curated out of our sophomore and junior reviews, which are the two major check points for the art major on the way to their senior thesis show.
What’s some outstanding history with the Edie/Dalrymple Gallery?
Sure! Well, the Edie/Dalrymple Gallery was founded in the late 60’s with former professor Carl Grupp, who was a signature print maker of the region and professor of drawing here. He’s still in town. He also founded our permanent art collection. He did it sort of informally, in addition to his very heavy load over the years, by bringing in professional exhibitions and then having student shows. Then eventually, he got a gallery space that is now the archaeology lab, and then this space opened new with the building in 2006. We are free and open to the public. We always do 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm exhibitions every year. There’s always the Senior thesis show that closes our academic year and then the Sophomore, Junior Invitational is always our summer exhibition.
So, does this run the whole course of the summer?
Sometimes it varies on our upcoming exhibitions. Typically, it’s open all summer and then closes the first Friday of the academic year. We use that as a closing reception to welcome back all of the students from their summer breaks, and to reconnect with them. It gives them a chance to see their show, because for many of them out of town, this gets hung post graduation. So, they won’t see their work in it until they step back on campus in the fall. So, we keep this until the first week of classes.
Of the students here, how would you say their progress has been with their work?
Each one of these artists is worth highlighting and elevating. One of the best things about this being our summer show, traffic tends to be a lot lighter, but we also have a lot of campus tours going on. So, the students that are here as prospectives looking at the college, they get to see that all of these pieces were created in an Augustana art class, and they get to see who the artists are. I love this show because I see these students in the art history classes, but I don’t really get to meet them as artists until I get to sit with them in their sophomore and junior reviews. It’s just fun to have. So, we have, of course, sophomore students that are maybe relatively early to the major. We have several students that are double majoring. Many Augustana students also triple major. Then we, of course, have students that are almost on their way to their senior thesis show. So, Sydney Kelly would be one of those that already has a very advanced and large body of paintings, then she’ll be wrapping up next year with both her art major and her student teaching for education major. It’s just a fun show!
Is this show, specifically, any different feeling than previous ones? Is there anything that struck you differently than previous years?
I mean, each show has its own characteristic and is as unique as the group of artists that are here, right. A couple of fun things to point out, we have Alex Meyer’s large stage set. He’s incredibly talented. So, this might be a nontraditional form. It’s his photography, the concept drawings, and then the model on it. He actually presented that in Washington, DC and got a national award for his set design! We were very excited for him to bring that back to campus, and then to display it. This show gives a great set of how wide-reaching Alex is.
That stained glass tower up in the middle area on the pedestal is his, and then we’ve got these graphic design pieces from him. Right next to them we’ve got Marissa Hight’s digital piece. She’s a biology and art double major, and is interested in medical illustrations and sort of blending that. So, that’s a fun piece, along with her hand cast one. Actually, in the Black Hills this summer she got a research appointment at a research lab in the Black Hills. She will be doing laboratory research, but they were also interested in allowing her to do microscope drawings and proofing images for publication. She’ll get really good experiences being a visual artist who assists the scientists. This year we have Anna Reich in our photography department. We have far more photography present. So, that’s another difference. We just haven’t had a substantial body of photography in a while. That, of course, is a testament to her for building our photography program. Even Wyatt, who I think of as being a screen printer, has some phenomenal experimental photography.
Do you have any words of overall encouragement, or words of critique, for the students presented here?
Maybe a good sort of word of encouragement, especially for perspective students who walk in here… I know you had an excellent high school experience as far as an art program goes, but many students don’t. So, they already come to college saying, oh, I can’t draw. I can’t do this. I can’t do that. I think, particularly with the faculty here on campus, wherever you are at, they will make you better. So then, some of these students probably had no, or little-to-no, art before they came. Some already arrived thinking, oh, I’m uncomfortable with drawing, or I can’t do x, y and z. Yet, in Drawing I they can do things like Dagne’s castle shading to a t. The students who come out of that, and what they present, are far beyond what they would’ve thought could be possible. Then we have students that come in with a very high foundation of art. Then it’s just fun to see how much they improve year after year. Really just in an exponential type of way.
In three words can you describe your impression and experience from this show specifically?
I would have to say uniformly eclectic, because it all hangs together, and yet, it’s such a broad reach. I think it’s a good sense of just how many different avenues you can pursue in the program, and also do individually tailored expressive experiences. I would say hard work. Inspiration. I think, well, you know how many hours go into the studio!
Full list of students displayed at Edie/Dalrymple Gallery:
Sydney Michael Kelly
Joshua D. Matzner
The process: Straight from the artists
How have the before-the-show steps treated you? What’s your impression of the gallery space process before hand; was this a new experience for you? Did you enjoy it?
For me, I think that’s always hard just because I know what other people kind of like, but I don’t necessarily know what kind of stuff of my own that other people like. I kind of have a negative view point over my stuff, just because sometimes it’s really weird stuff just for fun. I don’t take it as serious at times, so I don’t think other people will, even if it’s a serious thing. So, if it’s for the review, it was mainly trying to find things that I like, at the same time other people might like , as well. I think that it helped by doing a write up. I had all these different pieces up for the reviews, so the professors could critique my work, and eventually pick pieces for the show. I had to have a write up that stated what I was trying to get at, but in a super concise way, so that it’s clear. Sometimes I’m going, well, I took this picture just because I messed with a bunch of settings on my camera, or I made this screen print for fun, or because people said “you probably shouldn’t do that,” and I’m going to do it anyway. I couldn’t really say that, so I had to have this concise thing where I had everything down pat. I think that’s where it was stressful. I don’t know most the time if what I’m trying to convey is read by the viewer. With a lot of my pieces I like to have really open-ended outcomes, so that they can pick what they think maybe in a different way than me. Only after the fact, if they’re wondering what I’m trying to get at, I’ll tell them then. Other than that, either making weird things, or making them more confusing, or purposefully under confusing so that it’s easier for them to get. Maybe even harder for them to get, if I’m trying to have a conversation, or something that I’m just trying to get out there. I guess it just depends on each piece. With the ones in here, I think it worked a little both ways. My photographs are definitely a series where I was just trying to experiment with different objects. There’s a variety of things that I’ve taken pictures of. For most of them it was try something and go with it, rather than going, this is exactly what I’m going for and making sure everything is perfect. It was more of what Dr. Twa was saying, working with an experiment. That’s something that I like to do with photography, because it’s quick.
When putting my photographs in here, I wanted to try something a little different. So, instead of having vague titles, I made little music pieces for each of them. Some of them are bridges that are connected by a chorus that runs throughout the whole series. I’m definitely not a music writer at all, it was just something when I sat at a piano thought sounded good. I was trying to do something, that if the viewer has knowledge of music, they can pick out the little tunings with them and then decide if the sound would really go along with it. I’ve always wanted to do different sounds and photography, kind of like music and movies. I’m really into movies, so maybe that has something to do with it? I want the viewer to gain something from it. I like to have fun with it.
Preparing for the show was pretty straightforward; we just had to matte and mount our work so it was ready to hang in the gallery. We did not hang our own work for this show, so I did not experience that process.
The pieces that are in this show were selected by the faculty during our spring reviews. Though they picked a few of the things that I would have chosen myself, I did have some work in ceramics that was finished after the reviews which I wish had been included in the summer show. There is always next year, though!
Before the show, we create work for the academic school year, and then our work is chosen by our professors in what is known to the Sophomores and Juniors as their review. To me, it is kind of a coming of age rite of passage. With me being a junior and having done a review last year, I am well aware of the space as well as how a review is carried out. Regardless, it is still just as nerve wracking to get up in front of your peers and lay your work on the line. In my review summary, I had written about how with art and being an art major it always feels like I am undressing myself and pulling off my skin, folding it neatly, and handing it to someone, while in a way, asking them to accept and appreciate it. I am literally showing you my vulnerability when I am showing you my art, and telling you about the symbolism behind it. The review was exactly this. Each and every time, no matter the audience, I get a certain nervousness about me when speaking on my work. Mainly because my subject matter is so visceral, but also because there is some part of me that is still afraid to tell the stories of what I have been through, and to tell someone is to let them in, and I am not good about letting anyone in. Review is a good test run though for me being able to talk about my work, and the things that go into it.
We are told to bring pieces of work, usually anywhere from 10-12 (sometimes 15 or so if they are smaller), but beyond that we are given the freedom to choose work that we feel is our best. But then you start staring at your rather large portfolio of about 30 or so works that you have created that year and you begin to question what your best is. Is it the piece that you spent countless hours on that got an A- and yet you still are madly in love with it? Or is it the piece that got you an A and yet you do not really care for it, but you know the professors will like it? You start to wonder if you should cater to your professors or to yourself… and to that, I will say that you should cater to yourself. When your work is chosen to be hung up in that space, you should feel a sense of pride, and that pride only comes with staying true to yourself. I make each of my paintings with a very direct purpose in mind, and therefor when my pieces were chosen, I was very pleased with the result. I also felt honored to be a part of an institution that displays the work of their students so proudly and wants to display mine as well the work of my peers. The process leading up to review is nerve racking, the review is nerve racking, preparing your work to be shown around finals week is nerve wracking, but seeing your work hung up is worth every minute of it.
[DURING THE FUN]
Do you have a specific goal, or immediate impression, that you want the viewers to think and feel when experiencing your work?
Well, like I was saying, I do have stuff there, when other times it’s just if it happens then it happens. So, if a viewer sees something in a piece, I’m glad for them, but I’m not specifically trying to push them a certain way. With some pieces I’m trying to just get them and see how they look, while experimenting with different techniques and things like that. It wasn’t really a process of, this is really important to me and having to let the world know. I think my work is still important, in a way, but just not like that. With the photograph series, we’re suppose to explore something that we knew. However, going after that, I decided to take photographs of objects around my house. In the full series, I think there’s 35 or 40 pictures. Some are as simple as mason jars of tomato paste that we have from canning stuff. Other things are, like in here. There’s a certain image that started that series. It’s the self image. I was trying to experiment with light, which I really like to do with photography. I was trying to experiment with the light on the shelf, that in reality isn’t that important because it’s just a shelf in my bathroom. To me, there’s an importance behind it that I can’t quite understand, if that makes sense. Similar to, well, I know this, so it feels important. To anyone else, I don’t think they feel that, but to me, there’s a reason that this feels important. So, that’s where this series turned into something that wasn’t really just things around my house, but things that have a specific importance even if it’s just really vague for the viewer. For those, I’m not expecting the viewer to get anything out of them. They might find bits of relations that, in turn, can find comfort in, but I’m not specifically trying to get the viewer to see that. So, like I was saying, if the viewers see something, I’m glad they do. I would honestly like to know what they see, just because I think that’s interesting, but I’m not trying to force them to see something that I may be putting out there.
My two screen prints that are in this show are the works which I am most pleased with and feel represent a certain side of my work effectively. I am largely influenced by nature, namely the sky and cosmos. I hope that my screen prints will convey some degree of a connection with nature. The piece, “Where are you now? I still need you here,” was created shortly after the unexpected death of my mother. That is the first piece in a series that I am working on which deals with the concepts of life, death, the afterlife, and the consideration of a higher power. I don’t like the idea of telling a viewer exactly how to interpret my work, but I use titles as a guide of my intent.
My intaglio print of my dog, “Charlie,” explored texture by focusing on hair. Charlie has crazy, wiry hair which I thought would be fun and challenging to convey in a drypoint print. The position of him resting was my way of conveying how solitude can oftentimes be a necessary means to feeling inner peace.
When you first look at my work, you are either attracted it to it or repulsed by it. Often there is an innate reaction when viewing the grotesque or death. Your throat tightens a little, your chin clenches, maybe you blink frequently or your advert your glare, but in general you have a response. The secondary response when viewing my art should be the curiosity of why the subject matter is chosen, in an attempt to figure out the piece. The third common response is why does a 21 year old woman attending an upscale university in South Dakota originally from a small town in Iowa want to paint such things? To that, I would have to tell you to sit down with me and listen to the full story. But when that is not do-able, the viewer often just notices my attention to detail and the craft of my work. Notice the ants that are either fleeing away or being attracted to the objects around them. Pay close attention to the use of color and what you might be noticing as an American flag, a desecrated pie symbolizing human interaction, or maybe the mourning ceremony that gives you a closer view of tragedy and the influence of fate. My work is used to show my occupancy in this world, and how as a sexual assault victim and an abuse victim, I have often felt left without control. From that, I have pushed my feeling of being small in this vast world and how there are many parts of my life that are left open to the influence of greater powers. Dominant versus submissive, choice versus the lack of, nature versus nurture, authoritarian parent versus authoritative, resilience versus conforming, and conscience or the lack of. These are some of the things that play a role in my life and the pieces that I create, carrying out a plan to tell my story through the visual arts.
[AFTER IT’S SAID AND DONE]
Personally as an artist, is there anything else that you would want the public to look forward to? Any shows coming up, are you planning any projects, etc.?
I do a lot of stuff on my own, and apart from that, I don’t hear much going around town. Unless it’s from this one girl, Hannah Wendt, that I know, I don’t really hear a lot going on. I’m working on making t-shirts with print making stuff and using screen printing t-shirts, right now. I like wearing t-shirts, and I just wear weird stuff. Why not make my own? I don’t paint a lot, but I’m wanting to get into making my own inks and paints out of random crap. Maybe just smashing up a whole bunch of stuff and seeing what happens. I’m trying to use a bunch of different materials in my work, and do more experimenting because that’s the name of the game with my stuff. Other than that, I guess I need to get out a lot more. For right now, just through Facebook, Wyatt Dickson, would be a way of contacting me. If you wanna say hi, or if you wanna be like, hey, let’s make something. If you want to buy something, sure!
I am drawn to illustration (pun somewhat intended) and showcase my skills in my ceramics work. They are really fun to look at and people seem to get a kick out of them. I am also developing my series of screen prints which is dealing with the concepts of the cycle of life, and the existence of god. I am always dinking around in the printmaking studio and constantly have new stuff I am working on, which I share online. You can find my portfolio, including examples of my ceramic work on Facebook and my website.
I create about one to three paintings a week during the academic year, and I will continue to work at this rate. My work can best be found on social media, as I post my creative journey. I occasionally participate in small shows, but for the most part, I make work for myself and not for show. I have made such grand progress over the 2016/2017 school year and as I go into my final year at Augie, I do not intend on halting my progress. I fully recommend anyone to come to the senior show in May of 2018 if you want to see my grand finale, and hear me speak publicly on my journey. Until then, I sell most of my pieces for cheap so that they are obtainable by many. You could be the next owner of an original piece and you should be. My Instagram is sydneymichaelkelly and it is where most of my work can be seen. My email is email@example.com for any other inquiries.
As a fellow employee of the Washington Pavilion, I have had the chance to meet Mercedes before interviewing her for JAM’s Educator Interview. We meet regularly at the Pavilion to go over future lesson plans, and she is there to help other teachers understand the more artistic processes with children. Mercedes leaves quite the great impression! She’s wonderful at creating a fantastic learning experience, even with adults. She especially cares enough to make sure every child understands, and is having fun with the projects. It was amazing to have that student to teacher base impression of her before sitting down and chatting.
Where/what do you teach and what ages?
I teach at the Washington Pavilion, ages pre-k through seniors. I teach drawing, painting sculpture and ceramics. I teach outreach to youth at risk at Juvenile detention center, Multicultural Center, Bowden Youth Center, and other afterschool programs funded by grants in the Action Arts and Science Program (AASP).
I teach private lessons, home school lessons, art smarts (primarily school field trips to the Pavilion) OLLI classes, and pottery classes like ‘Wine on the Wheel’.
What inspired you to begin your teaching career? Was the goal always teaching?
I knew I wanted to be an art teacher in 3rd grade. I had great art teachers in middle and high school that encouraged me to stay in the arts. Lori Boldt, Maureen Kaul and Sara Winterscheidt to name a few.
Is there a specific rule of thumb, style, or method that you like to follow when you teach?
Practice every day! Work those art muscles! Step out of one’s comfort zone. If one always draws the same thing, they’ll get really great at drawing that thing. One should try to draw other things, too! For example, I try to push people away from the classic “corner sunshine” composition and ask them if there is another way to put the sun in their picture. In my opinion, art is 90% problem solving and 10% skill.
What are your favorite aspects about teaching?
Watching the self-discovery, and winning the students over. Sometimes they come into the room and see the project we will be working on, and the first thing out of their mouth is, “We’re making that? I can’t do that.” Then when class is over they are usually pretty impressed with themselves.
Is there anything that you would want to change about teaching?
Not now. I taught in the public school system for a few years in Georgia, and grading art for 600 students was a challenge. I also felt I didn’t get to know my students very well. Now I teach in an informal setting at the Pavilion where there are no grades; only learning and exploration and discovery without pressure to make the grade. My students are in my classes because they choose to be, and that feels awesome!
Would you give us a glimpse into your hobbies and interests? What are some of your favorite pass times?
My 15 year old daughter and I like to sing and play a few instruments. I like to play in my garden and I love to feed people delicious food. I do Henna tattoos as a side business, When I get a chance to do art for myself, I like to make drums out of clay and cover them with goat skin. Then I do custom Henna designs on the skins of the drums.
Thinking about the future, what is a larger-than-life goal that you might have?
I would love to travel the world. I was able to visit Europe for the first time last year. Ireland was such a grand experience that it wet my appetite for more traveling.
Are you part of, or are you planning any big events with the public?
Well, we do a lot of outreach through the Pavilion at special events like the Pride Festival, Down Town Riverfest and Jazz Fest. It’s usually easy to find our table. Just look for all the kids having fun!
Can anyone sign up for classes with you?
Yes. Anyone. You’ll find most of the classes I teach at Washingtonpavilion.org. I’ve done private and semi-private lessons with students from 4 to 94.
Using three words how would you describe yourself and style of teaching?
Passionate, creative and FUN!
ANNOUNCEMENT: JAM Art and Supplies will be having Mercedes Maltese create henna body art both July and August First Fridays 7-8:30 pm. We’ll be open late till 9 pm.
Every Friday I have the fortunate schedule of getting off work by 5:00, which for a workaholic like myself, that extra time always poses a problem: what am I to do for the next several hours? Never fear, my friends! Downtown Sioux Falls presented, yet another wonderful evening filled with that spectacular, creative scene.
First up was the 8th and Railroad Center for a “funtastic” time at a block party!
This being my first stop, I arrived as the beginning acts were playing. When I noticed the presence of several food trucks, I wanted to kick myself for eating dinner before coming…darn!
Well, nonetheless, the show must go on even without trying the amazing foods. Right as I had walked into Eastbank Art Gallery, my spirits were lifted to see such a variety of work being displayed! From jewelry, to watercolor paintings and a painted female figure! Boy, and don’t forget the wonderful sculptures, and vibrant paintings of what our beloved, classy Sioux Falls looked in previous times.
As much as I wanted to stay the entire night for the later bands to play, I had to leave the block party to head up Phillips Avenue. To my surprise, there was a band playing right outside Woodgrain! My second destination was Half Baked Cupcakes to check out what new creations artist, Sara Bainter, has allowed us public to behold.
Now, walking south on Phillips, I directed myself to the New New show happening at Vishnu Bunny Tattoo.
Later that night, Angie Hosh (a personal favorite) was scheduled to play, however, I later found that I wouldn’t be able to see them. Luckily, my dear artist friend, Maddee Ophelia, had attended! Yes!
Through my time spent at Vishnu, I saw MANY incredible works. With the walls brimming with art, it was hard for me to pick a few to show closer up. I must say, these pieces by Sasha McDowell and Emilie Nettinga were some of my favorites. So, you’ll just have to make a hop down to check out the rest and decide which speak to you the most!
I enjoy roaming the collections of locally made work for sale at Unglued; it always brings a smile to my face. Good thing I was already smiling because there was a sparkling photo booth to take pictures in for their celebration! Not to mention, Scratchpad Tees had their first experience in its new location for First Friday. To them, I declare a warm summery welcome!
On my way to peak into the local authors signing event, I couldn’t resist stopping to appreciate Steve Bormes sculpture “School Spirit,” which is part of the Sculpture Walk.
The night had gone by fast, so I took a few skips east on 10th Street to Last Stop CD Shop, or more specifically, the Post Pilgrim Gallery.
Another personal favorite is J. White’s work. In addition, there was a large quilted rug placed in the center of the space. The details in these pieces continually blow me away. (Seriously, go check ’em out!)
Not only was there gorgeous visual artwork presented at Post Pilgrim, but the White Wall Sessions were jamming out with their featured artists! You’ve got to love having the chance to look at some inspiring art alongside with the head bobbin’ preforming arts. What fun!
First Friday, you were a great one, once again! See you next time.
Does Sioux Falls really have interesting things that happen within the city? You bet ya’! Filmmaker Dempsey Tapley has taken on the challenge of capturing these interesting things and people in the form of film–Beware the Locals. As time ticks faster, and as we approach another lovely Sioux Falls summer, I am genuinely excited to see all of the collaborative work come together. ~HannahContinue reading Beware the Locals – Coming soon!→