Monday, November 26, 2012

Julie Sirek - Paper and Textile Artist

A Family Matter (Installation) 
2010 Handmade gampi
Julie Sirek

Name: Julie Sirek
City/State: Edina MN
Website: www/ profile: 

Julie Sirek is a visual artist who lives and works in Edina, Minnesota. She received her BFA in Print Paper Book from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was the recipient of the 2010 Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Minneapolis College of Art and Design Collegiate Fellowship and the Mary Beason Bishop and Francis Sumner Merrit Scholarship at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Her work has been exhibited national and internationally.

Julie uses crochet, embroidery, handmade paper and Joomchi (paper felting), to create two and three-dimensional works of art that bridge traditional techniques and contemporary aesthetics. The context of her work promotes awareness of domestic violence. By bringing attention to this issue, she hopes to increase awareness and create change.

A Family Matter (Detail) 2010 Handmade gampi, thread

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
At the age of 7, I witnessed my father hitting my mother. This type of behavior continued and escalated for the next 15 years. I now incorporate my experiences and the violent experiences of women and girls throughout the world into my work.

I am currently working on two projects. The first involves victims of domestic homicides in the United Sates in 2011. I began by screen-printing blank toe tags onto old tablecloths. A toe tag is normally attached with string to the big toe of a deceased person in a morgue. It is used for identification purposes. I am now in the process of embroidering one toe tag for each decedent with her name, age, gender, and relationship to perpetrator, plus the date, place, and cause of death. At the end of this project, I will have embroidered approximately 1500 toe tags that will be combined into an installation.

The second project also revolves around the theme of domestic violence. This piece will consist of six to eight articles of intimate apparel created from Joomchi textiles, threads, and yarns. Joomchi is a 500-year-old Korean papermaking technique. A single sheet of paper is formed from many layers of Korean mulberry paper, using water and hours of hand agitation. I will also incorporate spun paper thread and yarn into the work. I will use these threads and yarns for sewing, embellishing, knitting, and crocheting. I will be making a scarf, gloves, panties, a slip, and handkerchief. Each will be wrapped or draped on an individual wire hanger. The items will also show signs of distress representing the hardships women endure in their lives. This installation will bear witness to the atrocities being committed against women all around the world.

A Family Matter (Detail) 2010 Handmade gampi, thread, staining

How did you decide to become an artist?
Art has been a constant element in my life since childhood. After graduating from high school, I went to cosmetology school and became a hair stylist. After doing that for a period of time, I started making made holiday ornaments that were sold nationally and internationally. After ten years of making approximately 10,000 items per year, I was totally burned out. I felt like a factory. One day I could not bear it any longer and decided to become a "real" artist. I had always wanted to go to art school and I did not want to regret that I had not gone. I started taking continuing studies classes at Minneapolis College of Art and Design to develop my portfolio. Two years later, I applied and was accepted into their BFA program.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
The best advice has been to follow your heart, not your head. It is easier getting up in the morning when you love what you are doing. I am consistently motivated by the desire to do the things I love and the success I get from doing them is simply a bonus. We have all heard it before but it bears repeating. You only live once and life is too short to be wasting time doing things you do not want to do.

Femicide Garden (Installation) 2011 Mulberry paper

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself? 
Making a living as an artist is the dream of almost every artist. You need to be persistent and learn how to market yourself and your work. In today's world, documenting your work is extremely important. If you do not have good visual reproductions, you will find it difficult to get into juried shows or have a good presence on the Internet. Business cards, postcards and my website ( are vital in presenting my work. I apply to a lot of shows as a way of getting my work seen in multiple venues. Also, I cannot over emphasis the importance of a current mailing list. Everyone in your database is a potential buyer.

I do not sell a lot of art. I tend to make larger installation pieces that are not generally fancied by the casual buyer or collector. At this stage in my career, I am still able to take advantage of the MCAD Art Sale each fall. However, I need to make specific items to sell at this outlet.

I rely on the people that I know in the art world. They know my work, my work ethic, and they are able to recommend me for projects and grants. They know I will not let them down. For example, these contacts help me secure the commission of creating the cover dress for Mpls St Paul Magazine’s 40th anniversary issue. Without having a network of individuals who know me, it never would have happened.

Dissolving Dream 2011 Mulberry paper

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?  
I respond to the work of Erica Spitzer Rasmussen (, and Karen Searle ( These women use thread, wire, fabric and handmade paper to create 3-dimensional objects. To me one of the most important elements in art is the aesthetic. This is what draws me into a piece and makes me take another look. Not only does their work have an element of beauty, but also it is skillfully constructed and has meaning. Both women's work demonstrates a high level of technical skill. I feel the workmanship put into a piece shows the artist’s dedication and thought process.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Walker Art Center (
Minneapolis Institute of Arts ( )
Highpoint Center for Printmaking (
Minnesota Center for Book Arts ( )
Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art (
Textile Center (

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? 
I do a lot of web surfing. I am a big fan of the news reader "Zite". I enjoy randomly scanning artists, galleries and museums from  (, (, and Colossal (

Secrets From My Closet 2011 Mulberry paper

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
My work "A Family Matter" will be the featured work in the "Family Closet" show at the Altered Esthetics Gallery from December 6, 2012 – December 20, 2012.
I have also been selected to participate in the 2013 Fiberart International Exhibition of Contemporary Fiber Art, at the Society for Contemporary Craft and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, from April 19 to August 18, 2013.
Julie Sirek

Altered Esthetics

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stacey E Meyer - Painter

"Fox", 4" x 6", Oil on paper, 2012
Stacey Meyer

Name: Stacey E Meyer
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Twitter: @staceymaude

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

I am a painter.  I work in oils on linen, panel and paper.  I use a lot of metal, pulverized metal and gilt.  The paintings are portraits in abstract surroundings.  I consider all my work to be self-portraits in one sense or another.  I am currently working on a series of more literal self-portraits based on a series of travels.  Each painting represents one trip and the adventure/s encountered or sought during that trip.  I am also starting a Kickstarter project based on these pieces called "Desperately Seeking Adventure-Self-Portraits Phase IV".  I hope to have 10 pieces to show at, as of yet, an undetermined venue, by June of 2013.  We'll see.  This body of work is different from my past work in that it is much more literal in it's imagery.  I have not used my own face as subject matter for the past two decades or so. 

Detail of "Troncones"

How did you decide to become an artist?
I decided to become an artist in 1990 when I started dating an artist.  His roommate was also an artist and a lot of his friends.  I fell in love with their life and their work and I just knew that that was what I was meant to do.  I had previously planned to become an engineer and I completely changed plans and started working on a portfolio to use to apply to art schools.  

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
Never plan on making any money as an artist. 

"Troncones", 36" x 48", Oil on linen, 2012

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

Right now I am just using my website: 
and Gallery Co:  

I have really just started to market myself over the past year or so with twitter:
staceymaude and Facebook:  I did use Etsy in the past, but don't use it anymore.  As I said before, I am starting a Kickstarter project to complete my current body of work.  

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy? 
I love Caitlin Karolczak's work: 
and Carolyn Swiszcz's work: 
and Kathleen Day-Coen's work:  

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

I like Cult Status Gallery: 
and Rogue Buddha Gallery: 
and Fox Tax Gallery:  

You would see a lot of talented local artists and a wide variety of mediums and innovative work.  It's also fun to go to the galleries at the art schools, like MCAD: and Weisman Art Museum: and the Katherine Nash Gallery: to see more Minnesota artists, student art and established artists work.  

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? 

I definitely use Facebook and Twitter as resources for upcoming shows and opening receptions more than any other resources. 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am currently, this week, starting a Kickstarter project to raise money to complete my most recent body of work.  10 self-portraits trying to capture the real weight of the experience of adventure/s sought through travel.  

Stacey Meyer
photo by Elizabeth DeCicco

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Give to the MAX - Local Artist Interviews

LAI requests your support on
Give to the Max Day

Local Artist Interviews is a fiscally sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts.  Not quite a non-profit, but able to accept tax-deductible donations through out GiveMN site.  Thursday 11/15 is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota.  No doubt, this week you will be hit up to no end for your donations.  If you are reading this, consider yourself hit up.

Personally, I'm not a hard sell kinda guy.  All of the artists who are featured here donate if they are interested, but anyone who wants their interview featured is welcome to space on this site.  I have a suggested donation of $12-$24,  but really the site is free to all.

I'm proud of the fact that being featured on Local Artist Interviews is the first time most of LAI's artists have had any sort of press.  I think everyone should have an LAI profile.  Currently, there are about 170 interviews on the site.  I've got some favorites: Margaret Wall-Ramona, Liz Miller, Lance Ward, Pamela ValferJoe Aschebrock, Kara Hendershot, Jehra Patrick, and way too many more.

LAI is a great way to promote new work or a new exhibit.  Most interviews are published in conjunction with a show coming up so coming back to the site is a great way to learn about what art is happening in town.

All this self-back-patting aside, after 2+ years of interviews, there are limitations to the blog style format and opportunities yet to be realized--which is why LAI needs your support today.  Local Artist Interviews is due for a site redesign.  I've gotten quotes, I've talked to some experts, and I need to do some significant fund-raising to make these changes happen.

The first change you would see with a new Local Artist Interviews is that each artist could upload and maintain the content of their own profile.  Decided to add sculpture to your artistic skill set?  Log in and add a new section about your new work.  Want to add more artwork to your image gallery?  How about have multiple image galleries? Have a new solo show to promote?  Update your "What's Next?" section.

Which leads me to the next change--an Events Calendar. Create an event that is searchable by artist, by gallery, by date, by geographic region.  Have your exhibit history link to your events archive.  It's going to be awesome.

Are you an artist who would want to see these sorts of changes for LAI?  Are you an art fan who would appreciate a more interactive site?  Please donate today.

There are matching funds available at various times today and tomorrow.  The Knight Foundation is matching dollar for dollar from 10am-11am on Thursday, and the first $250 donated from this moment will be matched by the LAI Founder's Grant (me).

So don't wait.  If you have been an artist featured on LAI or have appreciated what you read hear, make a donation, share the link on FB and Twitter.  I thank you in advance for all of your support.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

David Hamlow - Installation

You Complete Me: Installation View, 
HFA Gallery, UMM Morris. 2012
David Hamlow

Name: David Hamlow
City/State: Good Thunder Minnesota
Website: profile
Facebook page
Twitter: @davidhamlow
David Hamlow holds a BA in studio art from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Minnesota. He has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants and shows work regionally, nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Cashing Out at the Kala Institute, Berkley CA, Hedge Magic at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and You Complete Me with Liz Miller at the HFA Gallery, University of Minnesota, Morris. 

Unconscious Reliquary 3. 
Conserved cardboard, plastic and detritus. 2012.

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

I just finished installing a two-person show at the University of Minnesota Morris with my wife, installation artist Liz Miller. We share a studio, and for this show we exchanged scraps from each other’s works and used them as a point of departure for new pieces. I often work with conserved packaging from my own purchases,transforming it into modular geometric sculptures. 

These new pieces were influenced by Liz’s shapes--which are based in pattern and symmetry--so they ended up being much more ornate than my past work. They were also heavily influenced by Christian reliquaries I encountered on our recent trip to Italy so although these pieces are very three dimensional and sculptural, they are wall based—almost like shadow boxes.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I couldn’t do anything else! When I was young I considered being a lawyer and an actor, but at some point I realized I was more interested in tweed jackets and horn-rimmed glasses than I was in research and argument, in other words I wanted to be an actor playing a lawyer. I was in theater at Gustavus Adolphus with Peter Krause (of 6 Feet Under) and Steve Zahn (of Treme) so I am grateful to their work for providing me the perspective that I wasn’t really committed to acting.  Visual Art is something I always remembered doing and being interested in. It is the only thing I received affirmation for that, even when I was not affirmed, I was still driven to do.

Unconscious Reliquary 4. 
Conserved cardboard, plastic and detritus. 2012.

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

Apply for everything. This is really a field where you need to create your own opportunities by making yourself available for anything that might get offered: shows, funding, jobs, collaborations. I try to have at least five things out in the mail at any given time, so that when one rejection comes in I just focus my attention of the next thing. Some might argue that this is not really about the work (some might even call it selling out) but the other advice I find key is: stay interested in your own work! If you are not personally engaged in and intensely curious about what you are making you won’t keep going. The rest is there to make sure you have the resources to pursue your work.

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

My work is conceptually driven by an anti-market idea. I give away the separate modules from each piece in exchange for an act of collaboration from the people who take the pieces. For example, I have a work called ‘Archival Structure 5’ that is comprised of hundreds of brick-shaped boxes. Each box is a small display case, with windows that show an item I put in the box and another added by the person who ‘adopted’ the box. I think of these people who participate as both conservators of and collaborators in my work. The boxes were designed so as to be completely reversible, making it possible to send them back and forth in the mail for just a couple of dollars.  I am interested in ways of owning and distributing work that fall outside of the usual models of galleries and museum collection, and the patrons who fund and ultimately what work is shown.

For this reason I rely heavily on teaching, grants and funded exhibitions to keep my work going. Exhibitions, of course, often place the work into that formal art world, but it also gives me the opportunity to insert my ideas about art and commerce into that world and expose the audience to a different way of thinking about the value of art and artworks.  Anyone who wants to collaborate on a project can check for opportunities under the ‘collaborate’ tab on my site.

‘Hedge Magic Installation’, 
the Soap Factory, 2012.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Liz Miller
Richard Barlow
John Fleischer
Amy Toscani
Alison Hiltner
Karl Unnasch

Archival Structure 5: Detail. 
Conserved cardboard, plastic and detritus. 2012.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see? 
Soap Factory
Franklin Art Works
Air Sweet Air
Tuck Under

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? 

Archival Structure 5: Mailer Version

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Currently on view: ‘You Complete Me’ with Liz Miller at the HFA Gallery at the University of Minnesota, Morris, October 18-Nov. 21

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am still making a ton of bricks for ‘Archival Structure 5’, and will be showing them as part of As I See Myself: The Creative Self Portrait at the Waseca Art Center, January 4th through February 9th, 2013.
David Hamlow