“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.
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.
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.
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.
Whether you have just moved into a new home or just want to make some renovations in your existing one, an artist space is a priority. While it may seem that any desk or hard surface that can be placed at an angle will work, that’s not usually the truth. In order to really get your creative juices going, you need a space that caters to artistic freedom and creativity. That usually means a space that has your supplies organized and is inspiring, comfortable and provides lots of wonderful light. Read on to learn more.
Organize and Inspire
It’s hard to get in the groove and be creative when you have to keep stopping to search for needed supplies. It’s frustrating and saps away your energy. Get rid of any clutter and bring in shelves, cabinets, and other storage solutions to organize your desk stationery, paper, drawing tools and other art supplies. Your space should also be inspiring and make you happy. Paint the walls your favorite colors, put your favorite photos and artworks on the wall, and add any other personal touches that you love, such as a small plant or some inspirational quotes. The happier you are in your space, the more your creative juices will flow.
Your space also needs to be comfortable. Make sure your desk is at a comfortable level and can be adjusted as needed. A drafting desk would be ideal. Don’t skim on your chair either; you’ll be spending a lot of time in it, so make sure it’s comfortable and supportive. Buy the best you can afford. You’ll also want to make sure your space is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If it’s not, you’ll avoid using it, and that limits your creativity.
There are few things more important to making good art than light. If your space is dark and dreary, it’ll be difficult to come up with creative ideas and they may not look right when you get them down on paper. Your space should have a good source of natural light from more than one direction. North and south exposures are best as they’ll give you consistent light all day. If you need to supplement, use lamps like Ott Lights, which simulate natural day light. Florescent lighting is too harsh and incandescent too yellow.
Having a drawing space you love to be in will pay off big time. You’ll be happier, more creative and more productive. All you have to do is remember organization, comfort, light and inspiration and you’re on your way to a perfect art space.
Lucy Chambers is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across a variety of sectors. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job, and loves the work-life balance it offers her.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for any other inquiries.
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!→
A little bit off the First Friday beaten path, right on what might be considered the cusp of downtown, sits a real gem. Nestled on the corner of 27th and Minnesota is Piper Custom Framing and Fine Art Gallery. As a custom frame shop foremost, it’s possible that it might not even be on your radar as a gallery to stop in and visit. Living only a few blocks north, I have driven past the storefront countless times. Each time curiously eyeing it. Done the same? Save yourself prolonged wonderment. Go in.
The gallery is cozy, and full of carefully selected, beautiful art from Midwest artists – print to sculpture and everything in-between. Not only that, the framing selection makes Hobby Lobby’s wall o’ frame look like a cheap floozy, and the staff are incredibly welcoming, experienced and wonderful to talk to. They welcome local artists with open arms, and are always willing to sit down and have a chat with them.
You can feel that this is a place where quality, and the individual customer experience is the top priority. They care immensely about what they do, and that passion shows the minute you walk in the door. Reaffirming, once again, that there is really nothing better than small business, and really nothing better than buying local art.
Landing an artist residency is a big deal. So when an artist does, it’s cause for celebration.
One of JAM’s favorite artists, Jordan Thornton, has “nailed” down her first artist residency!
It happens to be in Vermont, and there happen to be fees and costs that come along with that, so the Sioux Falls community has the awesome chance to help Jordan in her journey.
But before I get to that, here’s a little more information about Jordan.
She’s a printmaker with a deeply-rooted love of nature, which you can easily see in her work. Handpulled and hand-printed woodcut prints, often displayed in shadowboxes (that she usually makes herself) are her forte.
Jordan describes her current work as having a focus “on plant imagery, primarily the roots. The visual part of these pieces is of the physical plant, while the thought behind the work focuses on our own roots: what holds us to a place, a person, a pursuit.”
She’s been honing her craft for years. And she’s also been applying for residencies for years. And then the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT offered her an artist-in-residence spot for the upcoming month of August.
Here’s the catch: getting to Vermont isn’t free.
So that’s where you come in.
Jordan’s got a Kickstarter campaign that’ll cover the remainder of her residency fee and travel costs. But, most importantly, this campaign puts her art into the hands of the people investing in it.
To kick off the campaign, Coffea Downtown is hosting a launch party which doubles as the artist reception for Jordan’s three month show at Coffea. The party’s going down on May 6th from 6-8pm.
Everyday JAM receives donated, lightly used art supplies that they are able to turn around and get into the hands of artists and crafters at an affordable price. That is just one stroke of the paintbrush. JAM Art and Supplies fosters community. Whether it is through their classes and workshops or their website’s First Friday Reviews and Inspiring Interviews, they are a palette of resources for the Sioux Falls art scene. To support that work, JAM hosts an annual fundraiser – the Sweet Art Show, two days before Valentine’s Day. If you heart art, you will not want to miss it.
Last year, with attendance exceeding 250 people, the first Sweet Art Show raised more than $10,000. Thanks to those generous sponsorships and donations, JAM was able to further their mission in 2015. They offered classes and workshops to Sioux Falls artists and children – ranging from free art clubs for middle school and high schoolers, business coaching classes for artists, private lessons, as well as toddler yoga and sing-alongs. They also held their first creative reuse summer camp last August. Kids 8 to 13 learned what creative reuse was, and were also introduced to art installation. As a group, they developed a concept and turned Exposure Gallery into a “candy thunderstorm.”
Last year’s event was held at the Museum of Visual Materials, and featured the work of 16 local artists. Other sweet attractions included a gourmet ice cream social with toppings (created by Chef Lance Catering), a cash bar, silent auction, a create your own Valentine station, and a surprise performance by the Washington High School drumline.
The night will also include the gourmet ice cream bar and other tasty treats, a presentation of an artist advocacy award, live music by Elisabeth Hunstad, raffle prizes…plus a huge surprise that will give you a taste of just how sweet JAM really is.
Looking forward, along with acquiring space for a classroom and providing scholarships for private drawing lessons, JAM looks to send staff to a Monart Method drawing seminar and a Visual Thinking Strategies workshop – both art-based teaching methods that increase core learning skills, comprehension, and problem-solving skills. Funds will also help sustain and improve JAM’s website, increase creative reuse summer camps to 4, and provide more class and workshop opportunities to Sioux Falls artists and children in 2016.
New year, new goals, one strong mission: get art supplies in the hands of local artists. Get involved, yo!
Exclusive sponsorship opportunities are available for you or your business! Become an art advocate, and support a nonprofit that is making waves in the Sioux Falls community. For more information on sponsoring JAM and the Sweet Art Show, please ask to see the 2016 Sponsorship Commitment Form or contact Jess. Share with your business-owning friends too.
Other great ways to get behind the mission? JAM takes merchandise donations year-round, and is always looking for volunteers.
Check out more of last year’s event below. We will see your face on February 12!