Saturday, December 10, 2011

Natasha Pestich - Installation

Xylander Exhibition Poster #5, 2011
Natasha Pestich

Name: Natasha Pestich
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Email: profile:


Natasha Pestich is a local Minneapolis artist, educator and community artist. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, and her Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is currently an Associate Professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and has spent the last five years developing innovative curriculum in the study of printmaking attracting the attention of the Mid-America Printmaking Journal for whom she wrote an article on the topic of education. Her work has been showcased in both alternative spaces like the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Michigan, and the Generator Gallery in Scotland.

Highlights of her community art work includes several projects, most notably the inter-disciplinary project/performance North & Beyond, in Philadelphia, Sidewalks Saving Lives in Minneapolis, and her most recent partnership with the Pillsbury House & Theater which involved, among other things, the redesign of Pillsbury’s foyer, bringing together local artists, MCAD students and alum, MCAD professor George Mahoney and Pillsbury’s staff and community.

Semblances installation detail, Screenprints and Artifacts for Xylander, 2011

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Since April 2011, I have been immersed in two projects dealing with site through social engagement.

One is the redesign of the Pillsbury House and Theater foyer in collaboration with staff, community, local artists and Minneapolis College of Art and Design student interns, students and Adjunct Professor George Mahoney. The intent of this project was to create a transformative space or “Cultural Community Hub” reflecting the organizations mission of being “a new model for nonprofit human service work that recognizes the power of the arts and culture to stimulate community participation, investment and ownership.” Through the development of specific workshops using art and word play as tools, the Pillsbury staff articulated what the space should be or feel like, which was then translated into wall and column painting, the production of hand-printed couch covers and new systems for accessing information and interacting in the space. Later in the process, MCAD faculty George Mahoney brought in his Design Environment class to make movable tables and walls that would accommodate the multiplicity of needs in the space (gallery, waiting room, classroom, theater reception area, community meeting place). This project was new for me in that I took on a greater leadership role by overseeing most all aspects of the design and by developing the staff workshops, in addition to mentoring the younger artists and student interns through the process of creative place making.

The second project I would like to share is the exhibition “Semblances” with myself, Jennifer Danos and Marcus Young, currently on view at the MAEP gallery in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Working within a strict white wall prestigious gallery in a museum space was a dramatic shift for me, as I have been working in community settings or much smaller venues. The scale and command of the environment pushed my use of fictional scenarios (a strategy I often employ in gallery settings) to be much more involved, demanding a large collection of artifacts and layers of myth-making.

My contribution to our chosen theme, specifically took the form of a faux exhibition charting the trajectory of a fictitious artist’s exhibition career over the span of 10 years, not through the artist Jan Xylander’s actual work, but rather through the design and display of screen-printed exhibition posters (supposedly made by several different designers, but in fact made by myself) advertising his shows.

Both of these projects mine the potential for design and collective storytelling to influence our reception and interaction with site, whether that be a social service agency/theatre or a respected art institution. For the last few years I have explored how we personally negotiate publicly held ideals for different ends through community projects, site-specific interventions, printed sports jerseys and posters. Borrowing heavily from interior and graphic design, popular printing forms and the history of illustration, I weave stories into carefully constructed scenarios that ask us to consider how experience is culturally and socially mediated, while opening up the field to invent or contribute our own stories.

Semblances installation detail, Screenprints, 2011

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

I do not know if I would frame my practice as something that makes “statements”, but I would say I am interested in posing open-ended questions through humor, in some cases sensory perception and the poetic, in a manner that may inspire others to question, invent or exercise their own agency.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

The best advice I ever got came out my graduate school experience. I actually cannot remember who said it precisely, or if it was a general sentiment filtering in and out of our discussions, but it is boils down to this: Do not try to make art. Meaning, do not try to make your IDEA of what art is. This is not to say you should not absorb EVERYTHING in your midst. It means you need to follow your own curiosity wherever it may lead you, work hard testing out your theories, and take notice when something of value happens.

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

I work either on site or in my basement studio. Almost all print-based work is done in the print shop at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (where we recently built a fabric printing table you can use to make repeat patterns or large-scale fabric works- so cool!!). But as I am on sabbatical, I am currently printing at Highpoint Center for Printmaking.

Often at the beginning of a community project, I start with listening to stories- how do people occupy or relate to a given space, what kind of memories surround a site, what are the hopes/fears/expectations/needs being expressed? Where is there conflict, where is there agreement? In the case of my individual studio practice, I invent fictitious scenarios that I then create props for (i.e. posters, wearables, artifacts, environments).

I like to play a lot in the studio- so the images or spaces I construct are often one of many possible versions. I mix, re-contextualize, and respond to what is in front of me. I think this is inspired by my history of working with and teaching printmaking. Printmaking relies on multiple stages or layers and printmakers are always recycling plates, prints and ideas. Even when I work in other mediums, my work is informed by printmaking.

Semblances installation detail, Screenprints, 2011

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Dennis Lo:
Jennifer Danos:
Marcus Young:
Brett Smith:
Paula McCartney:
Jan Estep:
Bruce Tapola:
Luke Aleckson:
Andy Sturdevant:
Andy DuCett:
Steven Accola:
Ute Bertog:
Works Progress
Peter Haakon Thompson:
Seitu Jones:
Monica Haller:

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Walker Art Center:
Rochester Art Center:
Minnesota Institute of Arts; MAEP Galleries:
Intermedia Arts:
MCAD Gallery:
Weisman Museum:
Juxtaposition Arts:
Dressing Room:
Midway Contemporary Art:
Franklin Art Works:
Soap Factory:
Minnesota Center for Book Arts:

I Need A Hero, Screenprint on fabric, construction, embroidery, 2005

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Contemporary Art Daily:
Art in the Public Interest:

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

MAEP galleries at the MIA
There is a presentation in the MAEP gallery on Thursday 12/15 at 7:00 PM.
The exhibit runs through 1/1/2012

March 2012: Seerveld Gallery, Trinity College. Palos Heights, IL.
Fall/Winter 2012: Solo Exhibition, Schaeffer Gallery, Gustavus Adolphus College,
St. Peter, MN

1 comment:

Michael McGraw - said...

Here is a review of the Xylander work: