Category Archives: Inspired Interviews

KRISTINE REINER: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

Our final Inspired Interview finds us with local graphic designer, and mixed media artist, Kristine Reiner. Read up, and be sure to keep her on your radar!

Describe to us what type of work you do, and what your preferred mediums are.

I really prefer to reuse stuff around me. I’ve actually just called it mixed media. I paint with roses, mainly. I went to school for graphic design. I received an abundant amount of roses, and I didn’t know what to do with them, so I started painting with them.

So when did you start?

I had one art class my whole high school career. I was from a really small town. My senior year they cancelled my art class…all art classes. They cancelled them, and cut funding. I didn’t know what to go to school for, so I just chose graphic design. I’ve never really painted or done anything like that. 2012 was really when I started painting and experimenting.

How has your work evolved over time?

In high school, my confidence level wasn’t up, and there were all these other stunning artists who make things picture perfect. I was like, I’m never going to be that good. That’s why I leant towards abstract, just seeing how I progress each series I do. It’s funny cause I’m not trying, but my improvements are there. I can’t really gauge it.

Bikini – 2019

Were there any factors that led you to where you are today?

Absolutely. I didn’t really know why I was so attracted to art. I’ve kind of had a rough childhood. I was looking for a hobby, and I was creative, but I hadn’t really gotten to that point where I knew how to use it. I realized in college that creating art was therapeutic, and I started using my art to bring awareness to sexual and domestic violence around town. I’ve actually donated to a few shows, and volunteered and helped, and all other sorts of stuff. It’s actually really cool. Art is too crazy, and it’s such a easy way to open an awkward conversation.
I do graphic design for a living. Selling paintings is harder, but I had one good show.

What usually inspires you to create your work?

My emotions mainly. If I really stressed out and cranky, that’s the time to create. It’s so weird. It’s hard to describe it. I can just tell if I haven’t painted in a while. I kind of get an itch.

Do you do paint every week or so?
I do so many different things. I make lip balm, I make dog bandanas, and other stuff because of my ADD. But sometimes I get in the spur of it. I think my last series, within the matter of 2 days, I made like 12 paintings. It’s just kind of when you are in the flow, you are in the flow.

How long does it typically take you to complete a project?

Well, the one behind you took like probably two weeks. But I’ve gotten a lot quicker, because I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with my style. So, I would say a day tops, unless I hate it. Well, that’s not true, I’ve been fighting with one downstairs, that’s been months. It’s all about my mood.

Do you have anything you want to work on in the future? Any skills you would like to develop over time that you have not yet done?

I would love to actually get where I’ve completed one or two works a week. Where I try to challenge myself, that way I don’t get so creatively blocked.

Does it happen often where you are in a funk?

It does, but I’ll do something else, and then I’ll come back to it.

K -2018

How has Sioux Falls influenced your work? What are your thoughts on the art community in Sioux Falls?

Sioux Falls has been absolutely amazing…just sharing my work and meeting other artists. The community is so tight knit – so close and so helpful. I guess a lot of artists have competitors and people like that, and I’ve never even experienced that.

They are just helpful and nice. You can call them up and say like, “Hey, this really fricken sucks.” They can give you some tips, and they just get it.

The Road Ahead – 2018

Have you been here your whole life?

Basically, I grew up in a small town like 30 minutes away.

P -2018

How did you get know about JAM?

Was in a media class at USF here in town. I needed to volunteer at some art thing for my degree, and JAM was just starting. They were in of the little studio rooms at the time. So, I got to watch that whole progression. It’s so crazy.

CHX RMN – 2019

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?
Don’t give up. Keep trying. Someone in the world somewhere is going to love what you make. It may you take you years to find them, but somebody will.

Wings – 2019
Took 8 white roses to complete, and has a few hidden “Easter eggs,” like the Sasquatch in the bottom right hand corner. Reiner likes to keep her commissions free and personal. The couple she made this for played into their inside joke of the husband being a ‘Sasquatch.’

Where do you showcase your art?

Usually downtown. I’ve been in a few banks and museums. Just kind of event-type of things to raise awareness for nonprofits. As far as current projects go, I’m just working on some commissions, and getting ready for a show coming up later this spring. I don’t have any more information on that however. I do have a piece in the “Finding Our Voices” traveling show. It was just at the Third Eye Gallery. The show aims to bring awareness to sexual and domestic abuse. It’s all survivor-led, and will be at a new location in Sioux Falls soon.

I recently started leading painting classes, as well. The next one is at Full Circle Book Co-op on March 23.

h. 2019

FIND KRISTINE:

Website: kristinereiner.com
Facebook: @Kristinesartwork 
Instagram: @kristinesartwork

E. A. ZOKAITES: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

A writer (she achieved her MLitt with merit in creative writing from the University of Glasgow, Scotland), as well as a fine art painter, this local artist has the need to create just flowing through her veins. Read a little Q and A with E. A. Zokaites, and then definitely check out her website!

Describe to us what type of work you do, and what your preferred mediums are:
I painted oils almost always, occasionally it’ll be with acrylics. I do mostly nature art. I love clouds, so I do a lot of skies….a lot of landscapes. But I’m kind of branching, and do a lot of animal stuff, because it’s super popular. I was thinking about starting to do some trees and stuff like that, but it’s mostly landscape and skies.

How long have you been doing your specific medium?
So, professionally, I’ve been an artist for about a year, but I’ve been painting since I was 9 off and on. I’ve always loved clouds. I have a binder full of [cloud] photos that I took probably when I was 11. Whenever I see clouds, I’m like, “Oh, I should paint that.” Just living out in the country when I was little made me love the sky, and the landscape.

How has your work evolved over time?
My work hasn’t evolved as much as I expected, because the themes that I liked have remained the same. I like to try out different styles a little bit. Sometimes it’s a little more impressionist, and a little more realistic, but overall I think it’s been pretty steady.

Were there any factors that led you to where you are today?
My dream was to paint, and then in high school I decided I wanted to write novels. So, my education is mostly in writing and English and literature, and all that. After I graduated, I was tired of writing so much that I went kind of back to painting again, and it’s been full circle. I still want to write, but for right now, it’s mostly the painting I’m doing.

So, is your career mostly your writing or is it painting, as well?
Mostly what I make money from right now is painting. I’m not doing very much writing, but I want to get back to it.

What usually inspires you to create your work?
Sometimes when I’m out driving I have to pull over and take pictures. So, there’s a lot of pictures on my phone of stuff I can paint. Sometimes it’s pictures that other people have given me. But like I said, I mostly work from photos. So, I’ll just snatch a quick picture, and then maybe take parts of it and construct a painting from that.

How long does it typically take you to complete a project?
If we’re talking actual time spent on the painting, I have some tiny ones that are magnets, and those take maybe an hour. But, the bigger it gets, the more time it takes. So, I have some that took like 5 hours, and some that took more like 10. Some of the ones that are in progress are probably going to end up being about 20. But, part of that’s me learning new techniques, too.

So how long did that wolf one take you?
That one took about 5 hours, two of which were probably building the frame and structuring the canvas. That one I managed in one sitting, but some of those other ones like the one on the easel with the grey sky, that one I’ve been working on most of this year. But there’s probably about 10 hours into it.

Do you have anything you want to work on in the future? Any skills you would like to develop over time that you haven’t yet?
Part of what I’m working on right now is trying to build super thin layers. I’m learning about tone grounds. So, instead of starting on the white canvas, you start with a color. And so you have to paint super thin to have that show through. And then trying to learn how to get all those layers to work together. I used to paint all at once. Like the wolf painting I did in 3 hours one session. So, I didn’t do the background and let it dry, I did it all at the same time. But now I’m trying to do this layering work, and it’s tricky. Plus, I’m experimenting with canvas vs. linen, and I’m going to try board and stuff like that. I’m not really sure what the future beyond that will be. I’m sure there will be other techniques I want to try. But that’s what I’m working on right now; super thin layering.

How often do you paint?
Maybe a couple days a week. Not as much as I should.

Where have you displayed your art?
So far I’ve done craft shows. Mostly those. Not galleries, yet.

How has Sioux Falls influenced your work?
Well, Sioux Falls is my hometown. I’ve moved a fair bit, but Sioux Falls has always been the hub, like the center that I come back to. South Dakota and Minnesota is where I’ve mostly lived. It’s the landscape of the prairie that I come back to, and the skies. I think that is mostly what influences my art.

What are your thoughts on the art community here?
They’re really supportive here. They want everybody to succeed. I find that really encouraging. I’ve made a few good friends in the art community, and we’re always trying to help each other get better and share art shows. Like, “Oh, I’ve found this show. You should try it.” There’s some critique groups on Facebook that I’m part of. I actually started out meeting the writing community, and then the art community.

How did you hear about JAM then?
I actually had a studio at Exposure about half a year here. What happened actually is that I met somebody in South Dakota Writes that is also an artist, and she mentioned studios at Exposure that were open, because she had one there. Her name is Hannah Wendt. I ended up talking to her, and the branches spread out; meeting more people, and finding out about JAM.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?
Probably, I would say that it’s easy to get discouraged, but don’t let that stop you. There’s a lot of uncertainty in trying to make a career out of something like your art, and it’s scary, but it’s worth it. You’ll probably have to find some type of support structure to help you when the going gets rough. My family supports me. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their encouragement. Making more friends in the art and writing community helps.

CHECK OUT LIZ’S WORK!
Website: www.eazokaites.com
Facebook: @eazokaites
Email: mail@eazokaites.com


EMILIE NETTINGA: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

Upon introductions, Emilie started in describing her recent artwork at her day job, Schmitt Music. The mural on the wall was installation-mounted to be sculpted to her designs of Sioux Falls, and the high school marching band community near the music shop’s location. 

“It’s definitely a learning experience. It’s new for me. I usually do clay sculpting. Actually, right now I am doing a series with beeswax, so it’s all different stuff. This is definitely something different – applying heat to it, and burning myself a lot.”

Did your boss ask you to create this?

“Yes he did. That’s what I went to school for, and I have degree in. This is my day job. They just built this new area for our repair man to have his own space to do instruments. This wall here was just big and plain. Actually, this is like my fourth attempt at doing this wall. I’ve painted it over and over and redone it, because that’s kind of an artist thing, but I never found what I wanted to do. I was like, I’m a sculptor and not really a painter, so lets do a wall that I can kind of make three dimensional. So, that’s what I’m going for.”

Describe to us what type of work you do, and your preferred mediums:

Sculpting of all different materials. I use to say I’m just a ceramics sculptor, I’m just a clay sculptor, but I’ve definitely branched out these past couple of years. Like I said earlier, the beeswax is super new for me…then styrofoam, and mostly three-dimensionals. 

Did you go to school for that? 

I went to school for fine art, but I had to study all the different mediums. To do that, you have to do painting, and printmaking and all that. 

Do you have more work at your house?

Yes, I have a series right now that I’m working on that is all about honey bees. I’m actually using real parts of beehives, and then beeswax to sculpt bees out of honeycombs and the wax.

All The Queen’s Drones, beeswax on true brood frame and hive box drawer.

How long have you been doing your specific medium? How has your work evolved over time?

I would actually say for sculpting it’s been since college. Probably about 9 years I’ve been doing all creative stuff, not just one certain thing. I’ve done all different crafts growing up…not just one specific thing. Oh man…overtime just the simple basic pottery wheel stuff, like cups and bowls, to putting it on the wall. 

Never done anything like this before, though. Did one sort of wall thing that was actually downtown. In the basement of JAM there was a thing called Art Maze, last year. They asked local artists to pretty much do whatever they wanted with the space. People walked through it like a maze. I did drywall mud on the walls, kind of like a mural to do something different, but never with styrofoam. 

Are there any factors that led you to where you are today?

I mean it’s kind of a cliche thing. I was doing something with my hands since I can really remember. Not necessarily coloring in coloring books, but kind of building and making things. It eventually led to the three-dimensional stuff. Just trying to do a painted mural like the one here took three different times, and kept getting painted over. I just couldn’t get it on the flat perspective, it didn’t look good to me. So, it evolved into this.

What usually inspires you to create your work?

Honestly, for this specific one right next to us, my experience from working here these last couple of years. I didn’t know a lot about the band scene and high school marching band until I worked here. Right down the street is the biggest Sioux Falls high school. In this area, and kind of in the country, they are really good. Their marching band performances are outstanding. Just hearing them in the summer, and their practices inspired me. So, this mural is going to be kind of a city with marching bands and stuff like that. 

The rest of my work, like the beeswax and everyday life things…it’s kind of advocating, because bees are super important. So, it’s about using the most natural things. All of it is the real thing. I’m using real beehives, and not using glue or paint. All the materials belong to bees. 

How long does it typically take you to complete a project?

This one took me a long time. Since like last December, so that doesn’t count. This one would be my longest one. I don’t have a specific set date on it, yet. But, I would say for me it takes longer than a lot people. For me it takes months to do sculptural things. I can’t do quick drawings or paintings. People can do stuff in like a day. Takes me quite longer to do stuff. It also, takes me longer because I have a 3-year-old, and I have my own business, and I work here. 

What is your other business?

I just started two months ago – art appraisal, and music instrument appraisal. So, I’m fitting it all in. It can definitely take months to do sculptural things. If its clay, it takes building, letting it dry, and firing it. I don’t get to commit to a lot of shows, because I don’t have a big compilation of works waiting around. But that’s ok, that’s just who I am. I have stuff made specifically for certain things. 

Emilie’s studio.

Have you sold any of your work?

I have sold smaller works. Downtown Sioux Falls does a great job with the downtown shows for local artists and stuff. The last couple of years I’ve done little clay pieces that were framed. I made like relief things, kind of like this with clay, and actually just fit them with regular picture frames. No glass or anything, and they were painted and everything. So, I’ve sold things like that.

Vivian Vintage, framed ceramic bas-relief-frame is also upholstered by hand.

Do you have anything you want to work on in the future? 

Yes I do. I feel like it’s kind of secretive, but I’ll give a clue. I definitely have a big idea specifically involving coffee, and like the downtown coffee scene. Using actual parts of coffee, the beans, and all that. 

Any skills you would like to develop over time that you haven’t yet?

I don’t know. I would definitely say, sculpting things I have never tried before. Metal working, actually…not sure if you guys noticed the sculpture walk. I would like to do a sculpture like that, but I haven’t done anything that huge, monumental or big. So, just learning how to work with bronze is a long-term goal of mine. 

Gilded Goldenrod, framed ceramic bas-relief.

How has Sioux Falls influenced your work? What are your thoughts on the art community in Sioux Falls?

I’m not native here. I’ve been here for like 5 years or so. So, just kind of taking it all in – a lot of the downtown vibe, the people that are down there. The art scene has been influential. I’ve even included the city logo, and the city itself with the old buildings in some of my works. 

I think it’s really growing. It’s kind of…I use the word vibrating, and you feel it when you are down there. It’s just growing a lot. People should check into it. 

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?

I would say, just be authentic, and just be who you are. Don’t try to fit in a certain bubble of art. What you are inspired to make, make it. Make it genuine, and for yourself. There will be people who will find you. 

FIND EMILIE:
Facebook: @emilieearmark
Instagram: @emilieearmark
Website: EarMark Evaluations

ADAM BEILKE: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

This college student, and Sioux Falls native, has art in his bones. Say “hey,” to Adam Beilke!

Describe to us what type of work you do, and what your preferred mediums are:

So, I’m kind of like mixed-media. I like making a lot of digital stuff, because I’m a Graphic Design student. I like doing that, but I also respect the art of traditional acrylic painting, so I do a lot of that, too. Just, like, all across the board.

Do you go to college then?

I’m a second year at Southeast Tech, and it’s only a 2 year degree.

How long have you been doing your specific medium? How has your work evolved over time?

Digital probably 3 years, and then painting I’ve been doing since high school.

I’m always looking at new artists and new styles, so I’m always getting inspired by different stuff…getting new ideas. I think I have a better understanding of what I want to make as time goes on.

Who are your favorite artists?

Off the top of my head, Keith Herring, the 80s artist. I like his simplicity. I like a lot of famous stuff like Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Some other favorite artists include Keith Haring, Alex Grey, Adam Jones, Craig Gleason, Sidney Howard, Nick Guenzler, Karnn Bhullar, Allie Craig and Merritt Cates.

There’s some cool local art, I just can’t think of any local artists off the top of my head.

Were there any factors that led you to where you are today?

I was just always interested in art in high school. Ever since I got out, I’ve been trying to book art exhibits and stuff. So, I’m always continuing it and practicing it.

Do you display your art anywhere?

In the process of making new pieces for my second art exhibit with my friend, Sam Babcock. He and I have known each other since middle school and he was the first person I reached out to about a collaborative show. He and I rented out gallery space at the Museum of Visual Materials this past spring. That was my first art show. We’re going to have another one in the summer. I plan to also work with some other local artists sometime in the near future.

What usually inspires you to create your work?

Usually other peoples stuff. It depends. I kind of have to be in the mood for it. If I have an idea, I have to act on it, and I never know when it’ll hit me. So, it kind of just varies.

How long does it typically take you to complete a project?

Usually, it can only be a couple hours if I’m just sitting down and working on it. But painting, it can be like hours on end. That stuff takes like a long time.

Do you have anything you want to work on in the future? 

I am currently trying to create and develop a clothing brand called “Viable Psyche.” This brand will serve as a way to tie in my passion for clothes-making, along with my design and art compositions. The name and logo represent growth and functionality between the mind, soul, or spirit, yet I encourage people to find their own meaning within its style. As of now, it doesn’t have an official website, but I do have a temporary artist shop using Threadless. I hope to be able to fund and launch a more independent website in the future as the brand (hopefully) grows. I’m selling shirts at Last Stop CD Shop, and also a record store downtown, as well.

Any skills you would like to develop over time that you have not yet done?

In the art world, maybe watercolor. I’m awful at watercolor, but my dad’s really good at it. I’ve never gotten to master that. I’m always retracing over my mistakes and stuff. I don’t know…I think there’s always a lot of stuff you can do with digital art. People are always creating new things and trying to figure out new technical stuff, and finding new techniques all the time.

So, you said your dad does watercolor painting. Does that inspire you?

Yeah, it’s weird because I’ve been drawing since I can remember. My mom’s also an art teacher at Lincoln High School. It just seemed right.

I find that my purest form of inspiration comes from listening to music. Artists tend to rely on looking at what other people are making, which can be a vital way to keep on top of trends and styles, but using music can be a great tool in coming up with my ideas. My CD and Spotify collection span across many genres, causing different emotions and thoughts to transfer upon listening. There’s nothing better than being able to tune out and start from scratch using only the creative influences of audio.

How has Sioux Falls influenced your work? 

I really like the culture here. I’ve been to a ton of exhibits at the Washington Pavilion. I think downtown has a cool creative scene. I think we all kind of inspire each other a bit.

What are your thoughts on the art community here?

Pretty cool. I like them. Like I said, I can’t name any local artists off the top of my head, but seeing stuff that’s around, it’s cool that we’re adapting to new styles and stuff.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?

My advice would be not to try too hard. Being yourself is the most genuine thing you can do when it comes to being an artist. You don’t have to make a canvas. Draw whatever’s on the top of your head. Starting out with just a sketchbook, you can get as many ideas out as possible, then you can kind of pick and choose projects. Just starting out with a sketchpad and being original, drawing to have fun – those are the most important things I can recommend.

STORE: www.viablepsyche.threadless.com

INSTAGRAM: @viablepsyche

FACEBOOK: @viablepsyche

MOLLIE LAGE: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

“The Most effective way to do it, is to do it.”  – Amelia Earhart

With a heap to do the next handful of months – like finish graduate school, a graduate committee review, gallery exhibitions and shows, commissions, teaching a photo class for the first time, and full-time teaching at Washington High – Mollie Lage still carves out time to get in her studio, and hustle that art. We could not think of a better local artist to kick off the year (and revival) of our Inspired Interview Series. So, without further adieu…meet Mollie!

Describe to us what type of work you do, and your preferred mediums:

The art that I make when I’m not working on commissions is mostly abstract, and socially or emotionally motivated. I call it conceptual art because it’s based off of ideas rather than physical subject matter.

I also enjoy creating works that represent stories, which is why commissions are so important to me. It gives me the chance to bring someone else’s idea to life, and is a unique opportunity to give back. Acrylic and charcoal are my mediums of choice, but as a high school teacher, I’ve been dabbling in just about everything!

What’s the story about the people that you paint?

The show that I’m working on right now is called Visual Language. I teach at Washington High School where there’s a high ELL (English Language Learner) population. For instance, the parachute painting is called “Inadequate Safeties.” These students (some of them coming from refugee camps or war town countries) don’t always have the resources that they need to succeed, not necessarily academically, but in a lot of other ways, which is why I’ve been using my recent artwork to gain support for LSS Center for New Americans, an amazing source of help.

Old Enough”, the painting of a hand holding the balloons, is about the how in some countries birthdays aren’t celebrated, so when coming to America, the children have no idea how old they are. When some immigrants and refugees come into the United States, they have to give a date of birth, so they just put down January 1st of whatever year they think might be right. So, thinking about the mental ability of an average 9 year old versus an average 13 year old, that’s a disadvantage in itself. The balloons are for those students.

The portraits of the ladies are an attempt to represent idea formulation, and potential growth coming from people who don’t look the same as one another. Something that I’ve noticed as a teacher is that when a student doesn’t speak English very well, there can be a tendency to feel it’s necessary to water down the content they’re supposed to be learning. However, unless there has been major trauma or an event that has caused cognitive or educational delays (which is sometimes relevant), a 16-year-old who doesn’t speak English is just as aware and capable as an American born 16-year-old. Some adult refugees or immigrants were doctors in their country, but now have menial jobs or no jobs because of the language barrier, and the assumptions that employers make. I wanted to portray that thought, so I’m calling the series, “We are not weak.”

How long have you been doing your specific medium? How has your work evolved over time?

The first time I used acrylic, other than when I painted Christmas decor with my mom, was in high school, but it terrified me then because I was used to drawing. I got heavily into painting my sophomore year of college, and have been working with it since then, which was about 8 years ago.

Over years of teaching more realistic and technical skills that I wouldn’t necessarily say I had honed in on in high school and college, my work has turned from almost completely abstract (focusing mostly on color and texture) into something somewhere in the middle of abstract and realistic. I still love abstract painting, but I’m not afraid to get highly detailed in some areas of my work. I’ve begun to love making artwork that resonates and means something to other people, too, even ones that I don’t personally know. It’s so enriching to facilitate that connection.

Were there any factors that led you to where you are today?

First of all, my family has always been supportive in my artistic endeavors, so I don’t know where I’d be without them. At first that [endeavor] was music, but in high school I started developing a strong passion for drawing. When I went to the University of Sioux Falls, I went as an art education major with a music minor. Then, I dropped the education major, because the idea of teaching terrified me, and I added a psychology degree instead. Because of that switch, which I eventually switched back, I interviewed for an internship at Sanford in the arts and healthcare realm. I was offered the internship, which was a wonderful, heart wrenching, inspiring experience. Through it, I grew exponentially as an artist because of the emotional impact of working with children and adults who were battling, winning, or losing to cancer. Not only that, but the other artists that I worked with, and the unlimited number of supplies at my fingertips, funneled me into a making spree that hasn’t completely stopped since then. My husband, Chase, has also been a huge support, pushing me to make when I want to avoid it. We’ve been married for 6 months, and I’ve done more with my art than ever before.

Opportunities that fell into my lap, like traveling to Europe with my choir and art department in college, changed my life, my way of thinking about the world, and expanded my brain. Those thing I never expected or even wanted to experience, because I didn’t understand how immensely important they would be in my life. Traveling and teaching are an accurate representation of how my artist journey has been going so far – not knowing I needed something, and then having it plopped in my lap. I thank God for leading me here, allowing me to work my butt off doing what I love. I think it’s so important to say yes. even when you’re scared or don’t feel ready, because that’s how you’re forced to get ready, because that’s how I got here.

What usually inspires you to create your work?

It’s different every time. It can be something social or emotional that is triggering an urge to make. Sometimes it’s just a great way to think through a problem or an idea. Other times, a story has been shared with me, and I am trying to get it down for that person or that group of people. Other times it’s recreational, and fueled by the music that‘s playing.

How long does it typically take you to complete a project?

Until recently, I would go through spurts where I’d paint for 2 days straight, and then wouldn’t paint for weeks or months, but lately I’ve been trying to be more consistent. The amount of time a project takes really depends on the size and complexity of the project, but I am a pretty prolific painter when I get down to it.

Do you have anything you want to work on in the future? 

As far as artwork goes, I plan to continue doing a mix of commissions and originals. I plan to show Visual Language in 2019 and 2020 around Sioux Falls, calling more attention to the Center for New Americans. I plan to have WHS student work up alongside my own work at Dunn Bros in March. After that, The Museum of Visual Materials is hosting my work from September to October, and then I’ll be showing at the downtown Coffea from December to March of 2020. I’m working to fill up the year!

As that body of work is being shown, my plan is to continue with the fundraising project that I’ve been doing the last few months. I just created a website, MLSFStudio.com, which I’m using to host print sales of my own artwork. Each season I’ll be making mini prints of that artwork available. 50% of the proceeds from those mini print sales will be donated to the Center for New Americans.

Any skills you would like to develop over time?

Developing myself into a local business owner is something I’d like to do, but as far as making art goes, I’ll never stop working on my technical and design skills.

“Blown Away” Acrylic and Charcoal on Birch Board, 2018

How has Sioux Falls influenced your work? 

Sioux Falls has been a lovely supporter of the arts since I first moved here, and it’s only getting better. My students here, and the people I interact with at work and in my personal life, are frequently leaving me feeling motivated to make. Obviously, my teaching career at Washington in Sioux Falls has been a huge influence in my latest body of work.

“The Will” 30×30 Mixed Media

What are your thoughts on the art community in Sioux Falls?

The art community here is smaller just because Sioux Falls is smaller, but we are definitely blossoming, and seeing more and more people reaching out to get the arts involved in their projects. We have the Sculpture Walk, the Pavilion with Arts Night and the fine arts center, First Fridays, and more galleries and places willing and ready to host artwork. We’re definitely growing, and with that growth, more opportunities to be successful as an artist here. Lastly, most Sioux Falls people see the value in supporting local artists, businesses, and food producers, which has created an encouraging environment for us to do what we do.

Mollie with her cat, Chip.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as an artist?

Just keep making, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Hone your skill and be diligent. Don’t take criticism harshly even if it’s harsh, just consider it. Look at what you make, and either toss the criticism to the side, or take it as kind advice and use it to get better. Even if you don’t always feel confident about what you’ve made, which you won’t, put yourself out there to other people anyway, because as a collective of human beings with lots of opinions, skills, thoughts, and ideas, the people around you are your greatest resource.

__________________________

Find Mollie’s work!

FACEBOOK: MLSF Studio

INSTAGRAM: @mlsf.studio

WEBSITE/SHOP: www.mlsfstudio.com

P.S. Check out our Art Educator Interview with Mollie from back in 2015!

10 BEST BLOG POSTS OF 2017

Man, is it just us or was 2017 on supersonic speed? As you may or may not know, one of our big goals here at JAM is to be a source of art information for the Sioux Falls community through our website and blog. We have published over 160 posts in the last year on topics ranging from local art events to local artists and art educators, and everything in between.

Didn’t get a chance to read them all? We got you. Here is our top 10 hit list of our most popular posts to help you ring in 2018.

[Psssst.  Want a backstage pass to the local art scene? Join our team! We are always looking for dedicated and reliable bloggers and photographers. We have internship opportunities, too. Holler at us!!]

JAM’S 2017 TOP 10

10. “RELEASE THE CRANES” AT THE WASHINGTON PAVILION

9. FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: SEPTEMBER

8. AUGUSTANA STUDENT INVITATIONAL

7. ELEMENTS AND OTHER APRIL REVIEWS

6. ANGIE GILLESPIE: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

5. FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: FEBRUARY

4. ANGELA BEHRENDS: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

3. GENEVA COSTA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

2. ERIN NGUYEN: ART EDUCATOR

1. AMBER HANSEN: ART EDUCATOR

From all of us at JAM, Happy New Year!

DAVID WOLTER: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

David Wolter is one of the kindest people I have had the pleasure to speak with. From the short gallery talk he gave in the morning through the interview I had with him later that afternoon, his genuine pleasure and passion for storytelling through art was obvious. Throughout the interview, Wolter not only answered all of my questions thoughtfully, he asked some intriguing questions of his own. This Q&A is a little longer, since all his responses were so astute I had trouble condensing the interview.
-Rachel

Rachel: Can you tell me a little about yourself as an artist?

David: That’s a very difficult question to answer, I think. I access art through my identity as a craftsman. So, I see myself in the grand tradition of cartoonists and storyboard artists. There’s this great kind of American tradition – of unfortunately all white males – in the 50s wearing a collared shirt and a tie, and an apron and a little visors and sitting at a desk and drawing cartoons. I see myself as an extension of that tradition. The word cartooning for me, as I define it – it’s misleading for a lot of people but whatever – for me it means you write and you draw both. It’s drawing as a form of writing. So, being a story artist in animation is to me a natural extension of that kind of mentality of ‘I do both of these things.’ I’m not just an illustrator, I’m not just a writer. I love both things. One of the few places where those things are combined is what I do, which I love.

“Cheetah” A part of Mascot Zodiac

What made you start drawing and how have you developed over time?

I think newspaper comics were my first. They were so accessible, there’s the paper, and oh, there’s drawings in the back. From there it was the library, which in my mind is the crowning achievement of Western civilization, the fact that libraries exist. I love them. All of my first exposures to cartoons and comic books were through the local library. You know, the “Garfield” collections, and like “Mad Magazine” when I was way too young to understand it. The planets aligned when I was 12, and someone started a cartooning school in Colorado Springs where I grew up, which is not an artistic place at all. I was able to take classes on comic books and cartooning and it was super formative at that age to see adults be like, “Hey you can do this for a living, why don’t you come learn how.”

Caricatures of Ron Swanson and Batman

How have your desires and goals changed? Or, how have you gotten from where you started to where you are now?

I think that every human being has a responsibility to be the person they’re made to be. Do you know what I mean? Luckily we live in the first world so we have the opportunity to pursue those things. I think it was Plato – don’t quote me, but I guess I’m on the record now – that said “If everybody would do what they loved, there would be no illness in the world.” I’m not that naive but I do think that. How many people do you know who hate what they do and it’s awful to be around them? I have a wife and two kids now, and I want to give them life, and part of that process for me is being as true as I can to the person I want to be. And directing, frankly, doesn’t feel compatible with a life in which I’m there for my family.

I guess my secondary identity – so cartooning is one, but that’s the foundation – the other identity is a storyteller. I just want to tell stories, and I want to make up my own stories, and I want to create characters that people connect with. So, going away to the woods and writing a book is just the cheap version – cheaper version, more affordable version – of having a team of artists creating a movie for years. Not that it’s cheap, but it’s just the more affordable version.

Game of Thrones caricatures

You talked about this a little already. But, do you feel like you have a responsibility as an artist, whatever you might define ‘responsibility’ to mean?

Yes. I think it’s the flipside of the privilege. A lot of people are like “Oh, it’s so cool that you do that,” because it’s kind of a “sexy” job. When I say I work in animation, I draw cartoons, people are like “Oh, I love cartoons!” It’s fun, and it really is fun a lot of times. And a lot of people want to do it, I think. So, if you’re one of the people who is fortunate enough to work in entertainment or work in a creative field, I think you have a responsibility, and this is probably I would imagine true of journalism as well; you have a responsibility to mean it. To bring your best self to the work as much as you can. In a sense, I think in journalism and storytelling, you’re providing a service to an audience right?

Animated films are, in America…I mean animation in America is a genre, and it shouldn’t be. You know what I mean? You expect a certain kind of film when you see an animated film. And really, what our responsibility is, as America sees it, is to provide things that a family can go to together. They won’t be offended, they might laugh a few times, there’s going to be a couple poop jokes maybe, and there’s going to be talking animals, and that’s what animation is. That’s a drop in the bucket of what it could be, obviously. So, the responsibility we have is we want to tell stories that people can connect with. I feel like storytelling is so much more powerful than the genre of animation as America practices it.

“Rich Man Chasing a Dollar”

This morning you talked a little bit about “Eyrie.” I must have missed the first part of that conversation, so can you tell me about that project?

It’s just a fancy word that means “Eagle’s Nest.” I grew up next to a castle called Glen Eyrie in Colorado, so that’s where I knew that word from. It’s a short film I did. It was my second, my student film at Cal Arts. I went there for two years. What I loved about Cal Arts is every year it was one filmmaker, one film, so every student makes a film every year. So, I made a film my first year. It was okay. And I made “Eyrie” the second year, and that’s how I got the job at Dreamworks. I also got a Student Academy Award for that, and I also got a Horizon Award from Augie. That’s probably why I’m here talking to you today.

Image from augustana.edu.

The Horizon Award is an Augustana University award given to alumni who are standouts in their field within 15 years of graduation. It aims to recognize those people for their work.

A still from one of Wolter’s short films.

How has Sioux Falls (or South Dakota) influenced your work?

I think the fact that my formative years happened here…and also I lived in the Twin Cities for a few years after graduation…I think grounded me. I saw working artists at Augie, I saw professors, guys like Jerry Punt who were committed to it, and sort of get into it, and it wasn’t “sexy” but you could tell they were passionate and invested and serious and committed. I mean if you live in the Midwest, it’s really cold a lot of the year, so it creates a…not everyone can do it. I don’t know that I could do it anymore. I think that living here in my formative years kind of steeled me in a way, kind of built in my work ethic and emphasized authenticity to a degree, so that when I got to Burbank all the glitzy Hollywood stuff I kind of don’t care about. Maybe that’s cliché, but it’s kind of my best answer.

More Game of Thrones caricatures.

You’ve done some amazing work on films (Kung Fu Panda 3 for example). What’s it like to work as an animation artist for Dreamworks?

There are days where I pinch myself, like, “This is my life, this is what I do for a living? This is incredible!” and there are days where I want to quit so bad. Sometimes it’s like I don’t feel like doing this today, I don’t feel like doing what my director wants me to do for the next four days. And that’s the job. That’s the give and take of it.

“Making the Sight 1-5”

What can you tell me about your “Mascot Zodiac” project?

I’ve always loved comic books, and decided I wanted to make some. “Mascot Zodiac” is a graphic memoir. Which is, as you know, stories from my life told in a comic book form. They’re specifically focused on my obsession with animals and animal mascots. For whatever reason, that’s dented me in my head, and I’m obsessed with it. I figured out I have like 12 really compelling stories to tell about that phenomenon as it impacts my life, beginning when I was like four years old. I have 12 chapters, and chapter 10 or 11 is about being a Viking. I hope I get to that someday. Right now I only have the first four chapters finished.

A shirt design of the Augustana Vikings defeat of USD and SDSU.

David lives with his wife Amanda, two-year-old daughter Emmy and 3-month-old son Zeke near Los Angeles, California. His current personal project is about Emmy and trying to understand her despite how different she is to him. David’s first priority is family, and making sure he stays in touch with his children is a major part of that. Follow his work on Mascot Zodiac on his website. You can also find David on Facebook and Twitter.

DAVID SIEH: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

Talking with David Sieh in his gallery at the 8th and Railroad Center was a great experience. I learned a lot about what it means to be a contemporary naturalist, and how David approaches his work. Though a small space, Se Gallery was a brightly lit workspace with a lot going on. Getting a glimpse into his artistic process and journey as an artist was a treat.
-Rachel

Rachel: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself as an artist and your preferred medium to work with?

David: Sure. I guess, like we were talking about before, I grew up in the Twin Cities area and then moved here. So my art evolved from nature, landscape and wildlife. Then I was exposed to more contemporary, abstract art, then very influenced by the New York school of artists, all the abstract expressionists and then into pop-art. So my art kind of combines all of that.

About me, I grew up in nature, surrounded by nature and I always had a love of art, to use color and design. Stuff with that really developed my interest in art and I schooled in art so I just continued down that path I guess.

David got his Bachelor of Sciences degree with an emphasis in art from the University of Sioux Falls after bouncing to Augustana and Vermillion for a while. He’s been making art for 30 plus years. He’s been in his current gallery space for over 5 years.

You write that exposure to Terry Redlin’s work drove you to a career in art. What about him and his work inspired you to start making art?

When I was in high school, Terry Redlin was living in Hastings, Minnesota. He was one of the first people to inspire me as far as having a career in art. I actually did go over to his house–his home studio–when he was very first promoting his work. He inspired me in that a person could do the art and make a living. I was very much into nature and environmental art at that time, and I still am. Even though my work doesn’t emulate his work or really show any influence of him, his career path influenced me.

You call yourself a contemporary naturalist painter. What does that mean to you personally and how does it affect your work as an artist?

I’m very inspired by nature, that’s where I recharge my batteries. I have to be alone in nature. I try to do a little bit everyday, even if it’s just walking down the sidewalk or just in the backyard; to kind of get in-tune, get in a rhythm with nature, so as a naturalist I learn from nature. Just seeing how complicated things are…color patterns, designs, all that stuff influences my aesthetic. As a contemporary naturalist, I express that in my own painting through my gestures, colors, compositions. So, my work comes off as non-representational a lot of the time, but still influenced by nature.

You started drawing and painting when you were young “as a form of communication.” How does art communicate to you and how do you see yourself communicating through art to others?

On the representation level it’s a relatively cut and dry conversation where people just see me representing nature or an image. Then I can also combine those images with other aspects so it changes the dialogue to where it makes things a little more complicated. People have to think about the relationship of two images side by side, often times in a conservation aspect where it makes you think about the fragile-ness of nature, also the complexities of nature. Then, if you were to look at the abstract art, it doesn’t necessarily have a dialogue about nature. Its dialogue is more of an emotional impact where hopefully people look at it and have an emotional, maybe even a physical reaction to it. You know, that guttural reaction where you really like something or you really don’t, and then you stop and think about why you do or don’t like it.

Do you feel like you have a responsibility through your art to communicate those things or feel as though you have a responsibility as an artist?

I definitely do. I feel that I have the ability, or talent or sometimes I even feel like I’m a medium. I don’t even know exactly where the work comes from or what the work is, I’m just the medium putting the work down. So yes, I feel that I do have a responsibility to create as much art as I physically can just to get those conversations rolling.

As a part of the Sioux Falls art community, what do you think of the art scene?

There’s a real good talent pool here in town, a lot of people interested in it, but as far as a collector base and as far as general public knowledge it’s really minimal. But it seems to grow a bit all the time.

David’s list of in-town favorite shows include the past “Artists Against Hunger” shows and the Washington Pavilion’s Arts Night. He recommends Exposure, Post Pilgrim, Rehfeld’s and Piper. His work can currently be found at Piper and his studio at 8th and Railroad. He has also done murals at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.

How often do you create new work? And how long does a piece usually take you to finish?

As you can see, I’ve got work that’s in different stages of finish. I paint every single day. I’m in the process constantly. I’m never out of the process.

I’m gonna go with the usual 50 years and 10 minutes. It’s years and years of developing your technique and style.

Do you have any future plans for shows or specific pieces of art?

For me the art career and the whole thing is a combination of steady and consistent and patience. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years, so for me it’s the long term game.

David does accept commissions, seeing them as “Totally relevant and necessary, and part of the process.”

Follow his work through his Facebook page.

ANGIE GILLESPIE: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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.
-Hannah

“Electric Neon” 6″ x 6″

Layers of wax covering Angela’s studio floor.

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.

Angela beginning a new piece in her studio.

Dried wax.

Dried wax.

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.

Angela applying wax to a board.

Angela using a blowtorch to melt wax making it liquid like.

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.

The equipment and products of APLIS Fine Art Printing.

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.

Feel all of that texture!

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!

Follow Angela on Instagram: @angie.gillespie.artist

Can you use three words to describe your art and yourself?

Perseverance. Fearless. Optimistic.

“Bloom” 12″ x 36″

“Sea Foam” 24″ x 36″

Angela’s first piece using her beeswax technique.

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.

 

ANGELA BEHRENDS: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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.

-Hannah

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.

At the SD Art Museum until 7/23/2017

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.

Piece at Shriver’s Square

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!

(See her presentation at Pechakucha Sioux Falls, Vol. 22 )

Angela working on Love or Money show at the Post Pilgrim Gallery

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.

Was at the Sioux Falls Design Center, from artists’ travel snapshots with “SOLD” banner

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.

Magpie

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.

Monotype prints “Cents”

“Walk Softly” presented in Love or Money show at the Post Pilgrim Gallery

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.

www.angelabehrends.blogspot.com

“Land” 6′ 10″ made with artists’ hair

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.