Flourish / Blog:
You are currently exhibiting as part of the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program (MAEP) at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This seems like quite and honor and opportunity. Tell me about the work you are showing there.
I have eight colored pencil drawings in the exhibit. The drawings are still lives comprised of items from around my home and garden, some objects purchased at antique stores or ebay, and many of the still lives contain encapsulated still shots from iconic films, eccentric personas or art history references. I wanted each still life to have a visual richness or lushness to highlight and celebrate the figures or kitsch objects presented (and I use the term ‘kitsch’ with the utmost seriousness).
I’m ‘queering’ each still life through incongruous juxtapositions of objects and identities, and by capturing, containing and making a commodity of portraits, nature, memory and behavior. I’m a portrait artist and symbolist, so the genre of still life seemed like a natural fit for this exhibit at the MIA, an institute that celebrates ‘objectness’. Coding and concealment are an important part of queer history; the slowness of the conceal and reveal in the drawings is intentional and necessary. Dolly Parton is visually present in one of the drawings, and I also appropriate her song titles as titles for each of the works.
What process did you go through to exhibit with the MAEP program?
I like to think of it more as a process of courting and persuading Erika Olson Gross into applying with me! We had previously exhibited together in a show called ‘Garden Variety’ in Milwaukee, and so we decided to create a proposal for the MAEP and submitted to the committee. When we learned that we were paired with Jennifer Davis and Terrence Payne we were delighted, as we were both very familiar with their work. We have all since become a hyperactive little family.
Many artists find art to be a solitary experience, where creating community can be difficult. I wonder if you have a similar or different experience. How would you describe the Twin Cities art community and your place in it.
I would describe the art community as very welcoming, energetic, encouraging, and generous. I always know that if I decide to escape from my studio to go to an art opening or event that I’m going to see some great work, run into friends and make some new ones. Local galleries are incredibly supportive of local arts and I’m always inspired by local artists’ generosity - donating time, artwork, labor, or cash to local arts organizations. It’s a fun place to live and work.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Many of my past art instructors and mentors have stressed taking the role of artist very seriously, and so I make sure that everything I make is done with sincerity, that I’m honest with myself as well as others. Drawing still lives, there’s an interest in allegory and concealment, but I’m also dedicated to making those lies add up to a truth.
Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?
Andrea Carlson is my idol forever, and her new exhibit, “VORE” at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo is incredible.
I love photographer Erika Ritzel’s “SOLD” Series.
Other favorites include
Sonja Peterson . . . .
I’ve been working on sculpture for an upcoming exhibit with Allen Brewer at St Cloud State University, so lately I’ve been hoarding collecting materials. Lots of trips to Michael’s, JoAnn Fabrics, SR Harris, and other crafty-type places.Hunt and Gather Antiques has seen too much of me lately. I like to stop in and visit the lovely ladies of Soo Visual Arts Center when I’m in the area, or check out other local galleries during the day.
What was the last local exhibit you saw and what were your impressions?
Andrea Carlson’s exhibit, “VORE,” at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND (that’s local, right?). The amount of work and thought that Andrea has put into this show is awe-inspiring, and I was lucky to be able to hear her artist talk on cannibal movies and museum collections.
Do you have any exhibits or any interesting things going on in your life or coming up in the near future?
As I mentioned before, I have an upcoming exhibit, “Drawn and Quartered” with Allen Brewer in the Kiehle Gallery at St. Cloud State University. I will be exhibiting mostly sculptural work, comprised of fabric, fur and silk flowers. These sculptures are what I would call memorial or ceremonial wreaths and magic objects. Allen has been working on some really exciting “blind” portraits and sculptures – I’m really looking forward to this show.
I currently have a six-drawing series in the show “Vertical Currency: Five Years of Emerging Artists at the Rochester Art Center,” and a solo exhibition at the College of St Benedict, “Here you come again.”
This winter I’ll be cozying up in my studio and plotting some new work– there will definitely be more colored pencil drawings and still lives in the future.