Saturday, August 18, 2012

Holly Grimsrud - Painter

Athletes (detail) / Acrylic on wood / Life size
Holly Grimsrud

Name: Holly Grimsrud
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Facebook page:

I was born in Zumbrota, MN, a small town located southeast of the Twin Cites. I studied drawing and painting at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I graduated cum laude in 2007 with a BA in Studio Art and Art Education.  I began working as a an art teacher in the Shakopee School District right out of school, and have been teaching there ever since.  I began graduate school in the summer low-residency program at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009.  After two summer semesters, I took one school year off from teaching to move to San Francisco and finish my MFA in Painting.  I recently moved back to Minnesota, and now I reside in Minneapolis.

Sports are a big part of who I am.  I was a pretty big gym rat growing up, in Zumbrota, and played four years for the varsity basketball team at St. Olaf.   Now, I run.  I’ve completed seven marathons including Boston in 2010.  Next up is New York City in November. 

Athletes / Acrylic on board / Life size

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
Playing sports has impacted the way I think about acting in a public setting, and has influenced the way I want viewers to experience relevant contemporary issues through video, photography, painting, cut out sculptures, mixed media drawings.  

In Locker Room Tableau, a collection of performative work, I use the athlete’s body, underwear, a pair of sneakers and the Photo Booth crop to subvert the voyeur’s gaze into that of a Peeping Tom.  In my cutouts, the female athlete is portrayed in a Billboard-like Pop Art fashion; her faceless depiction representing a type of person, not a specific person.  Caught at invasive angles in her underwear and Adidas sneakers, the figure is removed from her surroundings, and placed on a white wall, self-contained.  My portrayal of the figure as a form of objectification, fetishization and vulnerability stems from the questions and fears I have about the shared private moments I see every day.  I use the almost-naked athlete as a metaphor for the exhibitionists I observe online, who provide a tell-all, show-all take on their daily lives. 

Athletes (detail) / Acrylic on wood / Life size

The subjects in my close-ups and dribble print drawings are most closely related to the things I have always done – portraiture and faces.  I keep a catalog of photographs of interesting facial expressions and interactions from my Facebook friends; they’re often caught with open mouths, squeezed faces and tongues out.   While studying in San Francisco, I was Skyping with my sister; she noticed a wall of 2” x 2” cropped photographs behind me of people almost-kissing each other, sticking their tongues into their friends ears, clowning for the camera.  Her deadpan reaction, “I feel like I’m looking into the room of a serial killer.”   The anecdote’s a bit dramatic, but when it comes to my prep work, I need to really be an avid and organized Facebook stalker.

Close-ups / Colored pencil on wood / 12” x 12” (each)

How did you decide to become an artist?
Like a lot of people who get into art, I followed in the footsteps of a parent.  My dad, David got his MFA in Graphic Design from Indiana University in 1974 and his MA in Painting from Mankato State University in 1970.  He worked as an art teacher at John Marshall High School, then moved our family to Zumbrota, where he was the Editor / Owner and Publisher of the News Record newspaper.  He taught me that above all, the work and honesty in art is what matters.  A few quotes from his mentors passed down have been John Maakestad (St. Olaf College, Painting Department), “The only bad artist is the one who quits.” and from Henry Holmes Smith (Indiana University, Photography) “Do work that is truly you.”  Now 71 and retired from the newspaper, he has picked up his brushes again, is designing logos, and still manages to act as a support many artists would die to have.  He manages my website, keeps his studio space available for me to paint and builds the frames for my work.  I am very lucky.
Dribble print – 
Dane & Shayna / Mixed media on paper 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
In winter 2011, I was working with a group of fellow graduate students on an artists’ publication called Cement.  In it, I chose to include an interview I conducted with Ana Teresa Fernandez, a bay-area artist with whom I had worked in my first semester at the San Francisco Art Institute .  I asked Ana if she had any advice to lend to young artists.     

“Work very hard. Be open and listen to yourself. Find what intrigues you and what you are passionate about. Passion is not always found in positive things, they most often are found places of struggle and conflict.... not always. Find ways to bring your passion into your work. You will be spending big chunks of your time with it, so you need to like what you are working on. Find a process that works for you. You will be rejected over and over, be aware of this, don't take each rejection as a sign of God. It is not personal. Just keep working very hard.”

I knew Ana was an incredible artist; however, after working as her TA during my last semester at SFAI and saw the potential to be great at something and to inspire that greatness in others.  In that time, I observed the work she pulled from students as varied, technically sound and conceptually rich, all of which are telltale signs of a remarkable teacher.

Britta / Mixed media on paper / 20” x 30”

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

One of the most challenging questions for artists!  I think it depends entirely on a case-by-case basis, and I think that’s what makes it tricky.  What’s the value of your time, materials, execution, your ideas?  I’m not sure.  Some of my peers create light or sound pieces that cost nothing to make, but these people face a different set of questions, which are no less relevant than mine.  I’m happy that I know I have objects to sell.  Networking is key.  I hope to attend more events and meet more artists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

David Grimsrud
Samantha French
Jennie Lennick is from MN - now works in San Francisco, CA

Henri Doner-Hedrick (Midwest artist) but she taught me at St. Olaf and SFAI and she teaches all over the world.  Inspiring!

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

We’d visit Groveland Gallery to see work of local artists I admire:

We’d visit the Soap Factory Haunted Basement on Halloween:

We’d visit Crossings Gallery in Zumbrota, for a hometown treat!

In addition to, 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? 

Facebook is a great resource – by Liking a page, I am able to hear about calls for art, residencies, and stay in touch with my school chums in San Francisco.  Feel free to Like Holly Grimsrud Art to keep up with what I’m doing!

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
One of my pieces will be featured at the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Building as part of the annual competition.  Look for “One Sock” among others selected in the drawing / pastel section.
I’ll be attending the preview party on Tuesday, August 21st, so I hope artists who see this and will be there will introduce themselves.
Holly Grimsrud

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