Tag Archives: augustana

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.

ART STUDENTS CREATE STEAMROLLER PRINTS

Though the wind may have been a minor nuisance, it was a beautiful, sunny day to create art outdoors on Thursday, October 12. For the first time ever, in a parking lot on the campus of Augustana, a dozen art students and 2 faculty collaborated with Myrl & Roy’s Paving in Sioux Falls to create large-scale prints using a steamroller.

Working in teams, students spent months prior preparing their 4-by-8-foot fiberboards, utilizing everything from traditional hand-carving tools to electric routers in order to create a relief. The surfaces were inked, covered with material, paper, carpet, a board, then pressed by the steamroller to create the print. The pressure of the steamroller was crucial for image transfer.

Part of the challenge was to find fabric large enough to print on.  While many students used bedsheets, some were able to find fabric large enough. One group used a piece of satin that printed very well. Another group decided to quilt together pieces of fabric so that the colors coordinated with parts of the image in order to create a color-blocked, screen printed feel. It turned out fantastic!

Photo courtesy of Senior Art Student Katie Munson

Students found that designs with more detail, though beautiful, tended to be more difficult to image than those with less intricate carvings.

Approximately 50 large-scale prints were created in five hours. Some of them are currently hanging in the atrium of the humanities building at Augie through the end of the semester. Be sure to check them out!

Photo courtesy of Senior Art Student Katie Munson

Faculty:

  • Chad Nelson
  • Lindsay Twa

Augustana Students:

  • Colter Benson
  • Breanna Burklund
  • Taisya  Gowlovech
  • Hannah  Grapevine
  • Nora Strom
  • Lotte Solvang
  • Ajla Sundstrom
  • Ella Ng
  • Wyatt Dickson
  • Katlin Munson

Iowa State Students:

  • Caleb Henkelman
  • Jordan Luckow

Augustana Senior Art Show

Fri Apr 28th – Sat May 20th
Eide/Dalrymple Gallery, 2001 S Grange Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57197

Graduating art students at Augustana University will present their senior show April 28 through May 20 at the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery. On exhibit will be a wide variety of works including ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, painting, drawing, digital photography and graphic design.

“Trash Collage”  13″ x 10″  by Courtney Hardie (JAM’s very own intern!)

Senior Artists:
Jada Arnott, an art and anthropology major from Sioux Falls
Noah Fisher, an art, anthropology and English major from Cannon Falls, Minnesota
Courtney Hardie, an art major with an entrepreneurship minor from Watertown, South Dakota
Tyler Johnson, a pre-professional art and K-12 education major from Luverne, Minnesota
Joseph Keating, an art and anthropology major from Sioux Falls
Samantha Levisay, an art and K-12 education major from Harrisburg, South Dakota
Ella Ng, an art major with a French minor from Hong Kong
Carl Norquist, an art and English major from Northfield, Minnesota
Evan Richards, an interdepartmental studies major with emphases in art, business and philosophy from Le Mars, Iowa
Julie Vu, an art and journalism major from Hanoi, Vietnam

The seniors will give artist talks at 7:30 p.m. at the opening awards reception on April 28, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Please, join us for an evening of food, conversation and a celebration of these seniors and the future of the visual arts.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by the families of Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple for whom we are deeply grateful.

SHARON WEGNER-LARSEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

lance (3)There is something special about viewing an artist’s work in-progress. The raw, intimate glimpse of a temporary existence, an image in flux of both content and time. For Sharon Wegner-Larsen, this type of documentation is simply a part of her creative process; each piece seems to be painstakingly documented, and generously offered to the public in an engaging way. Talking to Sharon, you can tell she is a natural born teacher, someone who values the dedication and discipline attached to strengthening a craft.

Much like her marriage of painting, illustration and design, Sharon combines her love of science and art to create vivid, detailed explorations of life on earth and the space above. Seeking to create a dialogue between the two, her pieces celebrate exploration, and the wonder of the natural world. Read on to find the inspiration behind her work, how she keeps herself on task, and how she has watched the Sioux Falls art community grow. ~Amy

Continue reading SHARON WEGNER-LARSEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Lindsay Twa: An Educator Interview

Twa HeadshotMeet Lindsay Twa, an Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery at Augustana University.  She holds a B.A. in studio art and music from Concordia College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research focuses on African-American art and the Black Diaspora, Haiti, and the economic structures of the art world. She has curated nearly 70 exhibitions and her recent book, Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, was published with Ashgate in spring 2014. After a long hiatus, she is back in the studio again and enjoying, as she puts it, the struggles of being a beginner printmaker.

In front of the Taj Mahal.
In front of the Taj Mahal.

Twa is married to Dr. Mark Larson, an Associate Professor of Biology at Augustana College, where he teaches Pharmacology and Biochemistry.  The two love to travel.  Before arriving at Augustana, Mark was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham in the UK.  Being there for three years allowed them to travel throughout Europe, Turkey, Egypt and Israel frequently.

In 2001, after reading Katie Alvord’s book, Divorce Your Car, the Twa family began a “car light” experiment—driving a car once a week or less.  From 2003 until 2010, they went “car free.”  While they returned to owning a car once their son was three months old, they continue to try and be as “car light” as possible by remaining a single-car family.

Twa describes herself as a serious, but amateur, distance athlete. On top of finishing 8 marathons, including the Snowdonia Mountain Marathon in Wales, she has completed two triathlons, and biked across the state of Iowa as a part of RAGBRAI. In 2007, she was an inaugural member of the Central Plains Cycling team and completed races around the Upper Midwest.

“I was the #3 woman in SD that year, though that tells you how few women were racing at the time!” said Twa.

While she finds herself in a range of roles, Twa says her newest and most favorite role of all is being a mother. She and her husband have two boys, Alexander (5) and Isaac (3).

“The days are full, but life has never been so colorful and wondrous,” she said.

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