“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.
Art is one of the most historic forms of human interaction and a popular pastime among many. In fact, studies from Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch show that creating visual art can reduce the effects of stress, promote relaxation, and even improve emotional resilience. Couples can re-discover the power of creativity through painting canvases and promote discussion. So, no matter how good you are at it, painting can allow you to test your partner’s artistic side and see how well you both interact to new experiences. Here’s why taking a painting class makes the perfect first date for art lovers.
Create A Fun, Stress-Free Zone
Remember those awkward moments where you sat in silence on a previous date? In a world focused on social media, people tend to get distracted by their digital conversations rather than their actual date. With a painting class, you won’t have to worry thinking about what to say next. In fact, there is no time for awkwardness. Between the time you spend on listening to the guide and following instructions, painting your canvas, and sipping wine, there will be plenty of time to discuss your artwork, laugh with each other, and enjoy your time spent together.
Set the Tone for Your Relationship
The first date sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. According to the University of Texas, studies reveal that men and women evaluate potential partners through face-to-face context. Humans focus on how that person behaves and makes them feel in person that cannot be felt in cyberspace. Whether it is a good experience or even a disaster, how we create first impressions are vital to meeting someone new.
Show Off Your Creativity
Taking a painting class allows you to express your creativity and artistic side. It allows you to create something together and show off your skills. Not to mention, you will both achieve a sense of accomplishment when the artwork is actually finished. So, whether you or your partner enjoy art, this thoughtful experience will provide the perfect opportunity to learn something new about them and yourself.
Lastly, nothing makes a great “first” date as much as having fun while you try something new. Whether it is your first time or the hundredth time you’ve painted, taking your date to an art class will become a fresh new experience the both of you can remember and enjoy.
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.
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: 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.”
This month I stopped by shows at Eastbank, Rug & Relic, and the Washington Pavilion. No new shows at the Pavilion this month, but all of the great activities for kids still happened. There were so many artists talking about their work at Eastbank, I spent most of my time there. The variety of work made fewer stops on my route doable, but I highly recommend stopping by some other locations as well. The Museum of Visual Materials and Rehfeld’s were two stops I had on my list. See more art shows on the Sioux Falls Arts Council webpage. -Rachel
RUG & RELIC
This First Friday, Rug & Relic hosted a one-night-only feature show of over 150 pieces from Chris Vance. Vance’s work plays on familiar cartoon-like styles and bright colors to bring his work to life. Pieces like “Peanut Butter” take a more abstract turn, but use the same colors and curvy lines as his other styles. Other work on display at Rug & Relic included light sculptures from Steve Bormes, and paintings from other area artists.
The first artist talk of the evening came from John Kolb. His art style is influenced heavily by his Christian roots. Kolb joked that the goal of one of the pieces on display was to see how many different ways he could do a cross. His pieces focus on shapes in a more abstract approach. He feels that sometimes he gets “locked into” greens and blues occasionally. Using a layering technique with his colors, Kolb’s pieces can get up to 5 coats of paint. He has around 5 pieces on display at Eastbank .
Linda Ackland-Kolb gave the second talk of the night, presenting and describing her pastel-painted beeswax works of art. Her pieces, though small, take a lot of work to get right. She fielded questions about the framing process as well, which is delicate since she does not use sealant to set her pieces. The work on display at Eastbank is a series of vessels and some fashion inspired pieces. Linda plans to branch into more clothing inspired pieces next.
Warren Arends ventured from on-canvas art into stonework and jewelery. His work started as a hobby, but now Arends has two students in soldering. He turns colorful stones from all different countries and continents into pendants and rings. His business, Arends Agates, custom makes every piece for individual requests.
Scott Chleborad was another featured artist at Eastbank. His work combines painting and photography that results in often psychedelic landscapes. Chleborad’s talk was short and to the point, with a few anecdotes about his process. His work with light and contrast makes his work unique and beautiful.
All of the artists’ work at Eastbank is worth a trip to 8th and Railroad to see. More than just these four artists have work on display, and the work they brought is just as exciting. Next First Friday, Eastbank will be doing a “postcard sale” of local art, so be sure to check out the current work on display before then.
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
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.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on what is known, rather informally, in the art world as an “artist talk”. The artist in question was Amber Hansen, the current painting professor at the University of South Dakota. What I expected to be a simple recap of Hansen’s past works was, to my pleasant surprise, a journey through a number of small towns within the Midwest, an interesting discussion on sustainable farming techniques, a viewing of a diverse array of charcoal drawings, large scale murals, experimental films, and Hansen’s insight as to what it means to create artwork collaboratively. What I assumed would be a summary of Hansen’s formal education and a viewing of her portfolio, was actually a dive into Hansen’s world of creating artwork, not simply for herself, but with community involvement and a sense of unity in mind. Continue reading AMBER HANSEN: ART EDUCATOR→
Geneva Costa may have been born and raised on a farm in Montana, but we’re just going to go ahead and call her one of Sioux Falls’ own. Having called both the East and West Coast her home, Costa is now living back in Sioux Falls with her husband Brogan [Green Dream Screen Printing] and two cats. Having known Costa for several years, I was delighted for the chance to delve more deeply into her process. Costa uses oil paints to create photorealistic works, and more recently, using that process to distort the reality of her subject matter. Autobiographical in nature, Costa remains inspired through gender, politics and current affairs. Her persistence in achieving her goals has always been a great inspiration, as is her dedication to keeping her concepts challenging and engaging. I wish her immense luck with her goal of spreading her artwork around the nation. See her work at genevacosta.com ~Hannah Continue reading GENEVA COSTA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW→
I have not stepped foot in the halls of a high school during school hours in over 10 years. Initially, everything seemed pretty true to form, aside from everyone having his/her own laptop and a smart phone. Lunch hour was still the same balance of chaos and control, even more so were the halls in between class periods – like a Jackson Pollock of noises, bodies and puberty. The minute you walk into Mollie Potter’s classroom, there is a very contrasting tranquility. Whether it is the neatly lined rows of empty tables ready like blank canvases, the organized walls of previous art assignments or the instrumental yoga music, you immediately feel a particular kind of focus. This is a place to create, and I want to stay. Forever.
Katie Meyer has been teaching art at Pettigrew Elementary in Sioux Falls for three years now. Katie was born and raised in Minnesota and has an Art Education Degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her husband, Cory, is an Engineer for Verizon Wireless. Together they have two children: Carter is 8 and Caden is 6, both of whom attend Rosa Parks Elementary. Katie passion for teaching stems from watching her students use their imagination and creativity everyday in her classroom. Katie’s energetic personality accommodates her profession as she is always looking to try new activities and projects while keeping up with a classroom of enthusiastic students.